There are hella ways to enjoy a Bay Area summer. Historically breezy and mild-weathered, you might spend the day at a nearby beach or waterfront, on a lovely hike, exploring wine country, or just lounging at the crib. You might kick it with your squad at the lake near downtown Oakland, posted up on a hill with some bottles somewhere in San Francisco, or hop on two wheels and ride your way along the Bay’s shoreline.
No matter what you do though, you’ll need a soundtrack that slaps. And when it comes to music and soulful representation, the Bay Area has never had any shortage.
With two months left in our summer (and let’s be honest, a bit past that), here’s a curated selection of songs by a group of our region’s most eclectic rap artists, who are capturing the vibes and spreading audio love. Each track was released just before, or during, summertime 2022. So sit back, and let this bump in your trunk. Hit the Spotify playlist below, and read further for more info and links to support the artists.
This track came out right around the time the Golden State Warriors locked up their fourth championship in the past eight seasons, making them—and the whole Bay—a veritable dynasty this decade. There are a lot of doubters and haters out there who want to see us lose, but just remember, “I know they wanna see me doing bad, but I’m good.”
- Jay Anthony, “Plétranada”
Since appearing on the scene, this HBK Gang member has been featured on some of the most iconic songs during a resurgent Bay Area sound wave that began in 2010, which featured the rise of artists like Kehlani and G-Eazy. Although Anthony—formerly Jay Ant—took a hiatus, he’s back on the scene with this super bassy player’s anthem.
- Cold Medina (ft. Matt Kelly), “Tiempo Divino”
A 415 rapper, Cold Medina makes his studio album debut with Knights in Tropicana. Mixing Spanish slang and references with a crisp Bay Area confidence, you get this unique, jazzy trap project with a tropical soundscape.
- Iamsu!, “Flying Carousel Freestyle”
The iconic Richmond rapper has been on fire this year. His latest production? The appropriately titled IAMSUMMER 2022. With a name like that, how could we not include it on this list? Check out his latest video from the album, a funky visual with a Lil’ John throwback appearance.
Hailing from East Oakland’s Brookfield Village, Duece never backs down from an uphill battle. Such is the theme of his latest album, Coordinates, which is narrated by his cousin, Damian Lillard, and features Grand Nationxl crew members, including Kevin Allen and Ian Kelly. The opening track is hauntingly mesmerizing with its deep notes and genuine introspection.
- Mani Draper, “Kush/Gospel”
Following up on this year’s magnetic release, Communion: Book One, Draper returns with Book Two—an upbeat thesis on the rapper’s continued journey around the world and within his hometown of Richmond, CA. As always, Draper provides complex insights in the form of rhythmic, life-hardened poetry.
- Rexx Life Raj, “Save Yourself”
The much-acclaimed summer release, The Blue Hour, puts Berkeley’s own, Raji, at the top of the Bay Area ecosystem. A layered navigation about the loss of both parents, the lyricist grapples with honesty and selfhood in a way that is rare and filled with altruism. This is simply a work of art.
There isn’t another duo in the state of California making more noise than these two. And most impressively, they keep doing it live—recording albums in one day on the spot, streaming the process for fans to witness, then releasing entire EPs the next day under LaRussell’s independent Vallejo brand, Good Compenny. They are the definition of true Bay Area hustle and entrepreneurial imagination, consistently giving fans “hope” and “dope.”
- Kamaiyah (ft. Cash Kidd), “Play Too Much”
A certified legend, Kamaiyah never misses. Fresh from a voter participation concert in her home city, Oakland, she’s back with a full-length album, Divine Timing. She simply does what she does best: providing the Bay with another golden West Coast classic.