The Dock of the Bay: Worship The Music -NOT The Man

Dave returns with another installment of The Dock of The Bay San Francisco has tried to clean up the SOMA area for years. The way I look at it is you can raise the prices on apartments, start using fancy words like Condo or Flat to sell them to all the college kids in the […]

Dave returns with another installment of The Dock of The Bay

San Francisco has tried to clean up the SOMA area for years. The way I look at it is you can raise the prices on apartments, start using fancy words like Condo or Flat to sell them to all the college kids in the world. But the homeless people need somewhere to stay. If you trickle off Market street going towards 101, the Caltrain or PacBell Park you will notice what I’m talking about. Littered grounds, syringes laying next to their victims, the Endup club. This is where you end up if the night hasn’t yet come to a close for you even though the sun has risen. This is where the touristy magic of San Francisco is lost and the land becomes a real city. And what comes with this type of neighborhood is also some of the best-kept secrets the local scene has to offer. For example, The Brainwash Café. This is a Laundromat/café/live music venue. I used to go get their breakfast sandwich before a long day of song writing and people watching. Go around the corner over to 11th street and you will find Slims. This little venue is the place where I popped most of my underground hip-hop cherry. Where I stood in line for hours at a time getting my friends with fake ID’s to buy me booze from across the street while heads like Aceyalone got ready to make their Bay Area appearances.

They don’t search you, scrutinize, nor harass. I walked in with three tall boys in my backpack wrapped up in a hooded sweatshirt and chugged them in the upstairs section of the club. The line up that night was huge although at this point in the game that meant that a place like Slims would fit the capacity. (Even in 2000, these heads weren’t selling out large venues.) This club with metal rods protruding from the ground in front of the stage, a bar covered in dedicated hipsters wearing tight biker pants, must of only fit a few hundred tops. The groups playing went in a mechanical order of popularity that night. First, one of my personal favorites, ZionI. They came out with a live band with Amp Live on the MPC. ZionI’s performance is nothing short of amazing. These Bay Area transplants spill their emotion into each word as Zion rips his raps while spinning around in Sweat pants and socks.

Next, was PEP LOVE from the Hieroglyphics crew. His cut and paste delivery brought with ease of tales ahead of roaring beats was a performance I would soon not forget. I love watching any head from Heiro do their thing any day of the week; they are truly a talented bunch and will be from 93 till…. There was actually a crazy moment that happened here now that I’m recollecting the night’s events. One of the eager young men in the audience noticed a stray mic on the side of the stage just as PEP had finished a track. I guess the young man figured this was his chance to shine. The cocky smiling hopeful grabbed the microphone from the edge of the stage and began to rap as fast (and sloppily) as he could. The boy got about five seconds in and yank! Pep Love snapped the microphone out of his mouth, his eyes turned to rage. “What the Fuck?” The kid must have been smiling smugly. “What the fuck was that?” Pep Love repeated. Now a couple other Heiro heads came out of the woodwork as Pep Love’s nostrils flared. “Get the fuck out of here! This is my time motherfucker! I paid my dues!” The young dumbass must have been proud until he was put to shame by these seasoned vets. I thought the Heiro crew was going to jump off the stage and hand this guy a beat down. But with one more “Get the fuck out of here” the kid, his smug over proud character, was gone.

Next came the group of the minute, Cali Agents. Planet Asia and Rasco doing their thing. Anything coming out of Rasco’s mouth was in sync with his waving sweat rag. Planet Asia smoothes through intertwined rhymes that most would stumble over. These were the Bay Area boys all of us were so proud to have blasting from our boom boxes while we skated a ledge. True homegrown, love of the art motherfuckers.


It was intermission, or in an underground way a moment to get people pumped for the final act. I knew that us being the audience monkeys were supposed to clap and hoot and holler for twenty minutes or so, so I decided to grab a smoke and my friend wanted to grab more booze from across the street.

We walked out into the nippy air, the bass pulsating the building from outside, hollowed out and droning through the foggy streets. I finished my smoke; my friend was taking a while. I wanted a swig of whatever it was he was purchasing so I crossed the street to the dusty liquor store. What I saw next seemed almost surreal. For I was yet (and still haven’t) to confront an emcee in a drunken “I’m your greatest fan” sort of way. See, my friend was real excited to meet Rasco, and at the time he thought that all rappers would be like Living Legends or the traveling Project Blowed heads with tapes and CD’s for sale. I saw my friends drunken mouth open, “Hey man, Dude, your work kicks ass!” Rasco and his rent a homie (you know the type, friends of the rapper who stick by their side to be self entitled and “cool.”) Rasco looked over at my friend from the line by the register, my friend opened his chops again. “You got any tapes for sale man?” Rasco looked to his rent a homie and glared at my friend with resentment. With over the top sarcasm he replied in a white boy kind of tone, “no bro, I don’t, like, have any tapes man!” My friend stood back shocked, why would someone who you’ve been supporting, buying his or her music, and are actually trying to buy more music from be such a dick? It’s probably the same reason why Rasco never made it much out of the glass ceiling us heads in Cali have created.

I don’t think the air around a skate session was ever again saturated with noises of the deep voiced emcee from the Cali Agents. It goes to show, as a rapper, especially an underground rapper, your NEVER insult your fans. You might have the B-Boy stare down but understand these kids watching you are your livelihood. The heads from your neighborhood aren’t about to buy your music, it’s the white kids from the suburbs who support you. As a matter of fact rap in general wouldn’t even be shit if it weren’t for the “Cool rich kid movement” explained so thoroughly by William Wimsatt in No More Prisons. Where else would the money come from? Think about it, the city kids? Hell no, they don’t have the extra money to buy up a whole websites worth of CD’s like I’ve seen some of the rich kids do. Not to say the rich kids know and feel what you’re saying but they are putting the money in your pocket.

I walked back over to Slims just in time to hear the main act of the night gear up. “YESSSSS MEN, BUT I’M NOT A YES MAN!” I ran back inside almost slipping on the black linoleum steps as the beat started pulsating my brain. This is when the crowd goes into a trance, everyone works as one at the same time, moving like a small body of water as the lyrics penetrate anything but your deepest thoughts. It’s therapy really, when a head like AC the face man whizzes through his set it reminds you of why we picked up a tape threw it into a stereo and let the day’s pain bleed through the dying batteries. The other heads of the blowed clique sound like a tongue twister recorded then sped up to the Nth degree. Not something you can understand all the time, nor does it hit your heart emotionally, but the boys have skill, and you don’t want to step. I’ve been down with the Blowed Clique sounds since I first heard em, truly a bay to LA connection.

I left that night a bit more head strong having learned one thing, Worship the music, not the man. My friend however wanted to punch Rasco in the face. The outcome would have been disastrous, an underground rumble of massive proportions where men become beasts protecting their ego’s. I’m glad I dragged him back to the car.

One Comment

  1. AlejanDRO1 said this February 16, 2008 | Permalink

    Its funny, what a little fame and recognition can do to a man i dont understand how they can disrespect the FAN. The most valuble to an artist. The FAN is where the respect from others is at. These idiot MC’s cant recognize that, these are the people that make him who he is. Its the reflection of the few that can relate to their art. “Worship the music not the man”!!!!!!!!! 2MEX (Visionary Crew)


Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *