Rap Atlas: Oakland

Lake Merritt

Downtown Oakland

Lake Merritt is like the Oakland equivalent of the globe in Queens that the Beasties and Craig Mack used. It’s this man-made lake in the center of town—really, the center of the Bay Area—which separates North and West Oakland from East Oakland. (There is no South Oakland.) It’s completely ubiquitous. The thing is, they have a Masonic temple right on the lake, it’s called the Scottish Rite Temple, so chances are it sits right on, or next to, the ley lines, which means something if you’re into geomancy or geodetics. They have weddings and graduations there, but Taj from APG Crew told me that DJ Cash Money once battled DJ Joe Cooley there, and Joe just destroyed him.

Lake Merritt has more hip-hop history, of course. Too $hort’s Get in Where You Fit In album cover was shot there, as was Mistah F.A.B.’s Son of a Pimp. Back in the day, they used to have the Festival at the Lake, a lot of rap groups used to play, but they shut it down because it got too wild. The Lake used to be a spot where people would high-side, but the city came up with this anti-cruising ordinance, where if you were observed going around three times in a row, they could arrest you. That was straight-up racial profiling. Boots Riley of the Coup had this group of activists called the Young Comrades he was down with, they marched into City Council chambers in 2000 and protested against it, but to this day they have these signs that say “No Cruising Zone,” so I don’t think they were successful.

Mistah F.A.B. - "Super Sic Wit It"

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