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Monday, January 30, 2023

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Arts + CultureMusicSF rappers unite on Halloween weekend to support Prop...

SF rappers unite on Halloween weekend to support Prop M

'Full House(s)' show brought attention to vacant homes—and drew some of today's biggest hip-hop talents

With local elections looming this year, Halloween felt a different kind of spooky—with a shade of realness, urgency, and community organizing behind the usual revels.

Sure, there were dudes dressed up as the 1960’s San Francisco Warriors basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. And yeah, there were women wearing alien suits and neon blue wigs. But there was also a communal sense among neighborhood artists to use their platforms to make a difference in a rapidly changing Bay Area landscape.

And at Bottom of the Hill—the iconic venue known for punk rock, indie music, and real Frisco rap culture—that’s exactly what a tightknight community of San Franciscan emcees and performers came together to do for a night of fun (and fundraising). 

The Prop M-focused event—playfully titled “Full House(s)”—showcased the multidimensional talents of various rappers, instrumentalists, DJs, visual artists and photographers from the Sco. All profits went to the Democratic Socialists of America in San Francisco’s support for Prop M getting passed. 

Things kicked off with DJ Jenset setting the tone with an array of hyphy bangers, sticking to new school West Coast favorites and throwback classics that ranged from YG to Tha Luniz. As partygoers danced, a beautiful illustrated series of San Franciscan Victorians were displayed throughout the space, creating a sense of pride and unity for those who call The City home.

Throughout the set, an event host would hop on the share information about San Francisco’s houselessness epidemic, such as “one in seven homes in San Francisco is unoccupied” and “there are about 10,000 homeless people but [an estimated 40,000 to] 60,000 vacant homes.”

Those details helped tie together the night’s theme of what it means to make sure all San Franciscans have a house to sleep in, regardless of their income or social backgrounds. It’s something that the underground battle rapper, Frak the Person—who helped to co-organize and facilitate the night—is passionate about as a 415 native.

“I’m really thankful for my upbringing,” Frak told me prior to the show. “I had access to cultures, my mom worked in the Mission and a senior center. I met all types of walks of life and I did a lot of shit with Youth Speaks and develop my creative cohort. We’re artists and activists who are doing creative shit. Now, at my age, I see the culture being dominated by tech and a specific style of Patagonia human beings.

“I’m not just hating on that, but no city should be one thing. It should be many things. I feel like San Francisco has economically narrowed itself to a few industries that young kids growing up in the city are seeing and maybe they don’t want to live like that. I’m hoping that a resistance can continue and allow artists here to make their mark.”

Rapper and event co-organizer Frak the Person dressed as “lofi girl.” Photo: Kyle Baarde.

Before he took the stage, a beat battle took place between Baghead and Will Randolph V—the latter of whom was crowned as the winner by the audience. Though a competition, it was all love, and demonstrated a subculture of San Francisco soundmakers who are innovating their own mix of bass-heavy and sample-savvy hip hop.

Afterwards, perhaps my favorite act of the night came on: an up-and-coming San Francisco-born artist named AlienMacKitty. The self-proclaimed “Hyphy Badu”—a title she lives up to—she’s also the daughter of San Francisco rap legend Cougnut. But make no mistake, AlienMacKitty stands on her own and is 10 toes down in the Bay’s layered rap game. Think punk rock outer space alien with a little bit of Mac Dre. 

“We need to fill these muthafuckin houses,” she declared during her set, in between songs that felt like they could have been part of the Hyphy Movement with touches of Erykah Badu and flamboyant vibrations that somehow reminded me of Sly and the Family Stone. She’s all of that.

She was followed by Family Not A Group, a collective whose presence was definitely felt throughout the night, with the group—er, family’s—live band set led by Afterthought, a smooth and laidback lyrcist who was dressed up like a 2005-era East Bay rapper. 

Frak’s performance was entertaining and humorous, something his brand of music is built on, mixing political issues and comedic banter with incisive bars that could slice down in rap battles. His mentor, North Oakland battle rap hero Passwurdz—who dropped his debut studio album earlier this year—was in the crowd, vibing with the rest of the crowd, which had filled to the brim by that point in the chilly Friday night.

At one point, the beat cut out, and Frak hit the audience with his trademark acapella flow, displaying his pride as a lifelong San Franciscan in the way only a true battle rapper from this soil can: “I’ma rap if this the only thing I do, even if we living with our parents ‘til we 62, even if we robbin muthafuckas thinkin Frisco new, and even if there’s nothing in their wallet we take Crypto, too.” 

The moment encapsulated the purpose of the night, which was to create space and voice the frsutrations of locals who feel pushed out by deep-pocketed newcomer—yet are still finding ways to remain rooted in the city with their art and hustle.

Photo by Hannah Matranga

The night ended with the ever-proactive GunnaGoesGlobal, who spoke on real issues and is currently working on a project that addresses mental health in his community. His tracks like “Blue Klux Klan” emphasize social justice and reparations for those who have experienced police brutality. “The media wouldn’t want you to know that San Francisco has more [housing] projects than any other city in California,” he tells me. “That would frighten people. But it’s the truth.”

Gunna wasn’t alone. He brought his homie, Stunnaman02—who has risen to become one of San Francisco’s most well-known voices after his hit single, “Big Steppin’.” Like Gunna, Stunnaman also has a purpose. He’s a champion for his city.

Stunnaman02 with the crowd. Photo: Kyle Baarde.

Whether on stage Big Steppin’ or outside of the venue talking to young kids about being the next generation of leaders, Stunnaman embodies the energy of what SF’s rappers have long been—community voices exerting their knowledge and bringing others together to stand up against the institutional forces that keeps many of us here divded and disorganized.

“Full House(s)” was a reminder that the Bay Area—with San Francisco at its core—isn’t just about partying and getting Hyphy on Halloween. It’s about speaking out on real issues and looking out for one another’s best interests, especially when it feels like elected officials aren’t.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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