Rap Atlas: Oakland

Central Building

436 14th St.

This is an old school office building in Oakland that was built in 1926. It's a 17-story high-rise right in the middle of downtown, and it's pretty classy: a doorman, elevators, the whole nine. A lot of non-profits work out of there now. In the late ‘90s, it housed the Bay Area Hip Hop Coalition and ABB Records, Beni B’s label, as well as Hiero Imperium and Solesides, before they became Quannum. So these cats would all see each other in the building and strategize about the independent moves they were making. The indie hip-hop dudes held it down for the Bay during the drought, after Tupac’s murder when all the majors abandoned the region. But these cats did it on an independent level, keeping their business tight, putting out quality music. I did a roundtable Q&A up there in 1999 or early 2000 on the state of indie hip-hop for the SF Bay Guardian, it was Beni, Blackalicious, Domino from Hiero, and Planet Asia, who was living in the Bay at that time. To this day, that’s still one of my favorite interviews, it really summed up what was going on at the time.

Hieroglyphics - "You Never Knew"

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