Image via LulDame23/ Instagram

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The Bay Area doesn’t sleep, and neither does Yousef Srour.

Welcome to the BAY AREA TYPE BEAT series, a recurring column in which Yousef Srour sheds light on Bay Area artists and Bay Area-adjacent artists. Each week, he handpicks five cuts that are either brand new or have been victims to the Spotify algorithm. Lo and behold, BAY AREA TYPE BEATs:

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Luldame23 is frustrated, annoyed, agitated, standoffish and sensitive to the slightest disturbance. You could say the latest prodigy from Vallejo is a little tight-wound. The beat’s hi-hats ring off like a slot machine clicking into place. The keys hop around the piano like a superhero’s suiting up sequence. The BPM races against Damem, but hurtles himself into the song as if he’s already been rapping nonstop for the past 21 seconds.

Following in the footsteps of SOBxRBE, LulDame23 introduces us to the rarely mentioned eastside of Vallejo. Thumbing through green portraits of Andrew Jackson, tugging at the bussdown cuban links around his neck, and surrounded by a swarm of his comrades, he’s at the front-and-center of his crew. Physically a cross between Babyface Ray and Cameron Boyce, it’s hard to believe that instead of walking on a runway, he’s being chased down Porter Street, out of breath and claiming: “Dropped a hundred fuckin’ shots that’s why they’re after me.”

He cools off, but after being provoked, Dame is visibly distraught. Please, enough with the questions, “I don’t know what happened to the last n****, stop asking me.” Half-ranting half-sprawling with confoundment at his long list of problems, nothing is working out for Dame. The police are harassing him, he can’t trust his friends, and his devotion to collecting cash seems to be teetering towards the brink of compulsion.

LulDame23 is consumed by a self-destructive yet self-imposed work ethic. He repeatedly sighs, “I just want to ball with my n****s,” but how can he loosen up? His Presidential Rolex can’t compare to the Patek he’s picturing on his wrist, he’s fiending for a “Vicky,” and for some odd reason, people are still calling him broke. Dame doesn’t have time to spell it out; this is a North Bay takeover, and Dame doesn’t even need to say the word.

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In Oakland’s Funktown, formally known as Highland Park but nicknamed after the notorious street gang Funktown USA, the wind whistles to vacant blocks and empty streets. On “Church Hill,” Mitchell steps away from his partner, 1100 Himself, for an intimate confessional. He’s withdrawn, looking down at his city from the summit of Grizzly Peak, alone and incapacitated from seeing his block slowly crumble before his eyes.

Sparking a blunt in the same car featured in “The Set Up Pt. 1,” Mitchell stares through the dashboard, wistful for solace. His voice is heavy, his guard is down, and the “ayes” that punctuate his lines collapse into groans instead. The kick drums are light, the hi-hats are sparse, and the synth tones are hollow and barely keep your attention away from the sample’s hushed disillusionment, repeating the phrase: “So ‘pressing to my eyes.”

Intentionally uncredited, Mitchell was the sole producer of 1100’s breakout mixtape, Funk Theft Auto. He thrives off of his peers’ success, and despite seven solo tapes, he’d throw it all away for a platinum single in 1100 Himself’s name. But that kind of sacrifice has a price, and Mitchell has a premonition that it’s his name on the bounty. When he admits, “I think the label got some plans to leave me in the dust,” there’s no remorse in his voice, just fraught acceptance. Once again, Mitchell is left to fend for himself.

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It was only a matter of time before one of the EBK boys got their hands on some baile funk. We’ve seen EBK Osama rapping over distorted crunk, EBK Jaaybo pondering the desecration of his mental health alongside indie pop, and EBK Young Joc will even sing along to ‘90s R&B when he’s given the chance.

Brazilian funk was practically bred for sample drill. As a producer, all Yvng Ecko needs to do is pitch up the sample’s vocals, splice in some subdued space gun pops, and add even more bass to the already-fizzling 808s. You don’t need to speak Portuguese to appreciate a bassline so phat that it sizzles like a cracked egg on a piping hot skillet.

Every one of Trey B’s lines are punctuated with a period. He lets the beat breathe as he concocts a list of theses about the slight work it takes to be him, beginning his first three proclamations by explaining that “it ain’t shit” to be better than you. Ssrich33, on the other hand, spares only a single moment of silence in his verse. Rapping with continuous authority, he taunts, spins blocks and reminds us that no one should even dare rap beef with him: “That n**** said he gon’ kill me, don’t even own a gun.” Don’t be silly.

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More than halfway through his twelve year prison sentence, Yatta proposed to his girlfriend exactly three weeks after this song’s release while still behind bars. With his palms facing up and a heart in his hands on the single’s artwork, the San Francisco rapper literally croons his heart out.

Moody synthesizers stir lightly in the background like a faraway shriek too far away for discernment. 5amtruly’s keyboard chords are scarce and held-out, and the consistent bass drum taps and rim shots on the snare seem to be the only thing keeping the rapper together. Despite spending the majority of his career behind bars for attempted murder and use of a firearm, Yatta seems more isolated than ever. Better known for autotuned warbles than straight rhymes, Yatta’s voice cuts like a swan song dedicated to his soon-to-be former alliegents. His voice is faltering, his memories are unraveling, and he can’t seem to shake the words of his late grandmother: “Fuck yo’ women, watch yo’ bros.”

Better known for autotuned warbles than straight rhymes, Yatta’s voice cuts like a swan song dedicated to his soon-to-be former alliegents. As Yatta reminisces about the fatalities within his family, from finding his aunt dead in his cousin’s house to news of his grandmother’s passing, he begs for peace. Showing love has failed him, his so-called friends don’t pick up his collect calls, and with six years left in his sentence, Yatta doesn’t want to endure any more suffering than he has to.

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LaRussell is on track to becoming one of the most respected artists in the Bay Area off word of mouth alone. How can you not love him? He’s on YouTube rapping in front of his local liquor store with nothing but a smile and a microphone. He transformed his childhood home into a performance venue for the whole city of Vallejo. His smile is contagious and his positivity radiates onto everyone meets.

But that doesn’t mean this collaboration makes sense. For one, Oakland’s ALLBLACK has the bite of a pitbull and his septum piercing adds a devilish pair of horns facing the ground. He’s gruff yet light on his feet; his bars are quick, and his flow sounds calculated like he’s running a football play. No longer doing 2 Minute Drills with Kenny Beats, now he’s moved from practice to playing for his own fictitious alma mater, SAVERZ UNIVERSITY, alongside his day-one teammate, DTB, the album’s sole producer.

Fully independent like Thizz Nation’s late leader, LaRussell embodies the jovial spirit of Mac Dre. In stark contrast to ALLBLACK’s growl, LaRussell is beaming with pride – so much so that you can’t help but admire the flexes in his verse: “DTB! I came up on housing and EBT” If BLACK is the quarterback and DTB is the receiver, then LaRussell must be the coach who promises to rap a verse in the locker room if the team wins the championship.

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