Many know about the New Bay sound emerging from the
West Coast. At the helm of this new movement is an MC by the name of Balance. He is known as the Bay Area Mixtape King.
Beyond the mic though, he seems to have some real
leadership skills. Balance seems to have embodied the
Japanese saying that None of us, are as smart as all
of us. So his team is strong, like his lyrics. His
website www.balanceskillz.com gets blown up by the
hour from people all over the planet. It seems
everybody is lookin for that ill Bay s**t. His
latest mixtape features, Frontline, Sean T and Planet
Asia, among others.
In this interview, we talk about his journey from
mauling mics on mixtapes to being the leader of the
New Bay sound. He also talks about how he came to
build with EA-Ski, DJ Vlad and thoughts as to why they should
legalize sideshows in the town .
AllHipHop.com: You, Frontline and The Federation are really
running things as far as The New Bay. People are
really respecting your music, and your business mind.
Tell me about your journey over the last year?
Balance: A year ago we created a movement. I study the
politics, and The Black Panthers- being from Oakland.
I learned quickly that there is strength in numbers.
You gotta have a movement to make change. A year ago,
I felt like we were in a depression. There were not
many outlets for a Bay artist on the radio or in a
magazine. Magazines, videos, just seeing your product
in a store- it was just tough. I felt like there was a
dire need Not just for myself, but any artist after
me Like It has to end now. We dont wanna wait for
the next generation [to change things]. We wanna make
it easier for them now .
Luckily, a lot of cats had the same ideas as us. They
just did not have a name or title for it. We came up
with the idea of a New Bay. New- not meaning better
than the old, but just, rejuvenating the idea of the
Bay Area. So, welcome into the millennium with a whole
new outlook. Like It aint gonna go down like this no
more. We gotta make good music. We gotta be more than
just hustlers tryin to make money. We gotta preserve
our Hip-Hop. Otherwise, itll fall apart.
AllHipHop.com: I first heard about you from DJ Vlad. He used to
tell me about you being raw. I was like Okay, okay, hes
dope Then like, a year passes, and you are everywhere.
I gotta give Vlad props on identifying you as like,
one of the next big hitters in the Bay. He knows how
to pick em!! How did you guys meet and the kind of
relationship you guys have.
Balance: I met him about two or three years ago. I worked in
retail. He came in with his mix CDs. He was doing
blends. Id been in retail for three years prior to meeting Vlad.
So, I knew a little bit about marketing and stuff. I took some. His covers were real dark at the time.
Like, have some toxic dude on the front I was like
You gotta step your cover game up.
AllHipHop.com: Now thats what hes known for.
Balance: In turn he helped me out. I had been doing
freestyles on mixtapes for about a year before I met
him. He had heard me on Mad Idiot CD T-ski .I felt
kinda cocky at that time like Who is this Vlad dude
coming to me for something? It just goes to show you
that you cant be cocky So, I did it Anyway, the
freestyle ended up being on the beginning of the CD A
year later, he moved to New York and held down the whole New York fort. He put me on a lot of CDs and it gave me a
chance to be heard by a lot of DJs.
The whole Rap industry is on some groupie s**t. So if
you are on one guys mix CD, and its hot .Its NOTHIN
to get on another guys. So I went to DJ Rondevu, then
I went to Absolute and just started swellin. But
thats how I met Vlad and me and Vlad is good friends.
He just came out here and gave me his new DVD and hes
really helped me out.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about how you hooked up with EA-Ski. If
you really from the Bay, you know EA-Ski is a living
legend. Tell me how you hooked that.
Balance: At the time I was doing the mix CDs I was also
doing drops on the radio. I was doing jingles, like a
one minute rap about a DJ and his show. I did one for
DJ Mind Motion on KMEL. EA-Ski heard it and liked it-
Mind Motion told me. This was at the time he came out
with Manuscript. We was at a club and Mind Motion
was like EA-Ski is here, I want you to meet him.
When I met him I was like I already know who you are.
Youre a legend. Your beats is fire. He said, The
drop you got over that beat is hot. It was cool because before we did music we kicked it. Hes from the old school. Its not just, You hot, lets get in the studio. He took me around The Town, we kicked it. We listened to music. He picked my brain. He saw that I was about
my business and that I was a nice guy. I was not out
to get him or bring bulls**t. He did a track on my
first mix CD and he did a track on my new one with me
and him together. We been folks ever since then.
His ability make songs From the production to the
concepts to the mix- its ridiculous. Ive never met a
producer that thorough. And the final product .You can
play an EA-Ski song, right after a Dre or Quik song,
because of the quality and the professionalism.
AllHipHop.com: Lets get into a
very local issue. A lot of cats talk about sideshows
now. I used to check out side shows way back, not far from Eastmont Mall It was cool back
then Cats used to wash their car, start dippin and do
a doughnut or something and that was it. Now, its
huge and getting dangerous. Cats are getting shot all
the time, getting run over. But its real viral now.
But I think that it should be legalized. Billy Jam
actually mentioned the idea to me first.
I think they should find spaces to let people get
their dip and doughnut on Like lowriding Cops hated
that to back in the day- now its an industry. I think
the sideshows have a similar potential. I think
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown should work to legalize it.
Instead he does the weak move and criminalizes kids
who dont have anything to do. What are your thoughts
Balance: I think one of the reasons is because they [the
politicians] cut so much s**t outta The Town Theres
no where to really kick it. You got all these kids
filled with testosterone, and they have nowhere to
gather. They need to set up some rules for it, give
the kids some space and legalize the sideshows!!
Adisa Banjoko is author of the new book Lyrical
Swords Vol. 1: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix. Buy
one today at www.lyricalswords.com