Rap Atlas: Oakland

The 40 & 43 Bus Lines

Oakland

Too $hort used to ride these lines in his pre-75 Girls days, selling homemade tapes. This makes him one of the first hip-hop street promoters, straight hustling his music before he had a label deal or a record out. His fame was truly built from the ground up—he started from nothing. The thing about $hort is, you’ll never say he’s the most technical or most lyrical rapper. But his style works. It’s pimpin’. It’s playeristic. And he goes on and on, he doesn’t stop rapping. That comes from this era, because you had to have a lot of rhymes to fill both sides of a cassette tape. It wasn’t just give me 16 hot bars.

You see kids these days standing on the corner at Broadway where the 40 stops, selling CDs and following in the tradition that Too $hort started. Those two lines went all over Oakland, from the deep East up to Berkeley. They were a lifeline for people in the East, especially if you were a young kid with no car, the 40/43 got you out of the hood. Tajai and A Plus from the Hieroglyphics used to take those lines to Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley back in the battle-cipher era, before Hieroglyphics were even a group.

Too $hort - "Don't Stop Rappin'"

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