Balance: Sick Rhymes & Sideshows

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 […]

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 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 . 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 don’t 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 ain’t 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, it’ll fall apart. I first heard about you from DJ Vlad. He used to

tell me about you being raw. I was like ‘Okay, okay, he’s

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 CD’s. He was doing

blends. I’d 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.” Now that’s what he’s 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 can’t 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 CD’s and it gave me a

chance to be heard by a lot of DJ’s.

The whole Rap industry is on some groupie s**t. So if

you are on one guys mix CD, and it’s hot….It’s NOTHIN’

to get on another guys. So I went to DJ Rondevu, then

I went to Absolute and just started swellin’. But

that’s how I met Vlad and me and Vlad is good friends.

He just came out here and gave me his new DVD and he’s

really helped me out. 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 CD’s 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.

You’re 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. He’s from the old school. It’s not just, “You hot, let’s 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- it’s ridiculous. I’ve 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. Let’s 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, it’s

huge and getting dangerous. Cats are getting shot all

the time, getting run over. But it’s 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 it’s 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 don’t have anything to do. What are your thoughts

on that?

Balance: I think one of the reasons is because they [the

politicians] cut so much s**t outta The Town…There’s

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