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by Oliver Wang
1 January, 2001@12:00 am
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 If you were here to experience it, hip-hop in the early to mid ’90s around the Bay Area was nothing less than magical. If New York had its moment in the early ’80s, the Bay followed suit a decade later, blossoming into a vibrant local scene on the strength of the success of the Hieroglyphics clique and inspired by Southern cousins like Pharcyde and Freestyle Fellowship. That included the start of more well-known artists like Saafir, Peanut Butter Wolf, Encore, Blackalicious, Rasco, etc. as well as now forgotten acts like Bored Stiff and Homeliss Derelix (not to be confused with the similarly named but differently staffed Dereliks). The sound, lyrics and attitude were what you could have called organic, progressive and positive – off-shoots of the New School era that was withering out East but taking up new root in the West. By the end of the ’90s though, this era passed into memory as hip-hop – across the nation – shifted as well while local opportunities dried up as well.

DJ Serg, a longtime contributor and aural historian of the scene time warps you back to the Bay’s near-past with his mix-CD Golden State of Mind. Much of the CD is directly taken or influenced from the sounds of the time. That includes such forgotten gems as the Homeliss Derilex’s “Critical Meltdown”, Bored Stiff’s “Peaceful Rotation”, Plan B and Saafir’s ultra-rare “Runnin’ from 5.0″, Blackalicious’ “Swan Lake” and DJ Shadow’s “Entropy”. Unlike the blustery approach of the NY mixshow crowd, Serg keeps his presence through hands-on chatter only – no shout outs or repeated boasts – just deft mixing skills that keep the album’s pacing brisk but fluid. If you’ve never heard the music that he includes – or if you have but just forgot – don’t let a solid first or second chance slip you by. Serg reminds us all what the Bay was once capable of – and what may yet lie in the region’s future.

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