Rap Atlas: Oakland

APG Crew HQ

853 Apgar St.

APG Crew was one of the seminal Bay Area groups of the golden age. They're largely unknown these days, but they were one of the first hip-hop collectives to make some noise locally, even before Hiero, Solesides/Quannum, Digital Underground, or Hobo Junction. There were several groups and artists under the moniker APG Crew: Mello-Mar, J-Cutt, MC Money Ray, DJ Red Slice, Cold Comin' Up, Ken & Kev. Turntable T, who’s the label manager for Too $hort now, was also in it. APG was derived from Apgar, the block they lived on, but they also called themselves “Action-Packed Gangsters,” which was a song that was a big local hit in 1989.

It’s ironic, because APG had a gangsta image, and they were definitely what you’d call "soil-savvy" these days, but if you look at the segment in the 1990 documentary Rap City Rhapsody featuring APG in the studio, it’s apparent that they also had a real conscious side. That’s one of the things you have to stress about the late ‘80s-early ‘90s, you didn’t have all these subgenres of hip-hop or rap like backpack and gangsta or turf and conscious. It was all lumped in together and it was all good.

When we went to shoot the location for this article, there were some dudes hanging on the porch. I introduced myself and asked, "Did you know this spot is a historical landmark?" As it turned out, the guy I was talking to was Allen Blackwell, APG’s producer (pictured at right above). He started telling me all this stuff about their history, how they pressed up 500 copies on vinyl and sold them practically instantaneously. It’s cool that dude still lives there.

APG Crew - "Action Packed Gangstas"

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