Old Raps Episode 4: 1992 Oakland California

I SAW Marvel’s latest huge superhero blockbuster Black Panther a few weeks ago. And while I loved the incredible cast, the futuristic action and the twists and turns of the plot, the highlight of the entire movie for me happened less than five minutes after it started.

The movie is bookended by scenes in Oakland, California. The first one announces itself proudly by displaying “1992 Oakland California” across the screen as teenagers play basketball in the projects. Usually when we see a scene like this in a blockbuster, we’ll get some generic, royalty-free instrumental hip-hop as the soundtrack, or its 2017 replacement: anything by Run The Jewels.

If we’re lucky we’ll get one of three DMX songs movie producers know. If we’re unlucky they’ll take a page out of Suicide Squad’s book and blast Eminem’s ‘Without Me’ for the entire scene. Instead Black Panther gives us a song by an Oakland artist that was released in 1992: ‘In The Trunk’ by Bay Area legend Too Short.

Too Short’s been making music since I was born, but I’ve never heard one of his songs playing out of cinema speakers. I wanted to punch the air but I was at a 10am media screening as a guest of a serious movie reviewing friend who’d never let me sit next to him again if I sat in anything other than complete silence. But I was stoked. It seems like such an obvious choice (Too Short is the first thing that comes up when you google “Oakland rapper”), but it’s so rare to see a soundtrack decision made right in a huge mainstream movie, especially when it comes to rap.

So just like Kendrick Lamar was inspired by Black Panther to make its official soundtrack (none of which sounds as good as ‘In The Trunk’, imo), I was inspired to make a podcast about rap in Oakland in 1992. From legendary Oakland figures like Too Short and Mac Dre to extremely underground, one-cassette release-only acts like 9 Lives Click and Ski & The Mafia. Even honorary Oakland resident 2pac shows up.

Here’s to setting more superhero movie opening scenes during the 1990s in some of America’s best rap cities. Let’s hope Captain Marvel opens in New Orleans for some reason. – DJ Levins

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1. Too Short – In The Trunk
2. Mac Dre – Punk Police
3. The Coup – I Ain’t the Nigga
4. All City Productions – Bust Your Rhymes
5. 9 Lives Klick – Dope Game
6. Ski & The Mafia – Oakland Hustla
7. Pooh Man – Don’t Cost A Dime (featuring MC Breed)
8. FM Blue – Oakland Styles
9. The Govenor featuring 2pac & Richie Rich – Gaffled Like That

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