It’s been a while since we’ve delivered a Rep Your City, but today seems like a really good opportunity to bring back our recurring series that highlights the rap scenes in different Northern California cities. We discuss 5 artists we believe are holding it down for their city. In the past, we’ve covered Vallejo, Sacramento, and Berkeley. This time around we’ll take a look at Stockton, CA!
Stockton is often slept on in the conversation of Northern California hip-hop, but that’s beginning to change as the Central Valley city has been producing some of the state’s most interesting music. Nicknamed Mudville, Stockton has a 22.4% poverty rate, was hit disproportionately during the 2007 housing crisis, and like Vallejo filed for Bankruptcy in 2012. To say the least, many folks from Stockton are familiar with struggle and we know adversity produces some of the most intriguing art.
Doja Clik is often considered the city’s most successful hip-hop act, garnering a feverous cult-like fanbase after dropping 1995’s Hard On Da Grind. Funk Mobb aka D.O.A. collaborated with the likes of JT The Bigga Figga, and were early representatives of mobb music. Today the scene has opened up to street artists like Young Slo-Be, Lil Los, Nicky900, and Muski amongst others. We’re even seeing artists on the other end of the spectrum get shine. Don Quez and LilDaddex’s “TIM” has garnered 100,000 views on YouTube and continues to grow by the day.
Stockton is a city of proud residents, and they support the hell out of the artists putting on for them. We’ll highlight five below, but understand there are many more who are worth your time and attention. Do the work to learn their names and become familiar!
Haiti Babii is probably the most obvious name to mention at the time of this writing. In just the past couple of weeks, he’s received shout outs from Meek Mill, Chance The Rapper, Swae Lee, and even Chrissy Teigen! The catalyst of this attention may be a point of controversy for some rap fans. It’s his April 2019 freestyle on Los Angele’s Real 92.3. The freestyle is an unconventional and frenetic display of Haiti’s creative process. He doesn’t write! And because of that, he gets really freaky with his allusions to mountaintops, dragons, and Aladdin.
While some have dismissed Haiti as a wack rapper, those who have taken the time to explore the man’s music have learned that he’s a talented creator. One whose artistic freedom has made him one of the more interesting acts to watch in Northern California. December’s Welcome 2 Da 9 and April’s Warrior are albums to peep if you’re having doubts. If Rihanna following him on Instagram is any indication, his viral moment is working in his favor. We expect to see a lot more from him in the coming months and years. He’s just getting started.
MBNel’s sound can be likened to NBA Youngboy’s, with his frequent use of auto-tune and street introspection. Nel grew up watching his family in gangs and when he became old enough, he too joined a Filipino crip set. In the current landscape Nel’s music stands out because despite having a brutal edginess and more than enough clever gun bars, Nel ultimately contemplates the meaning his decisions on wax. He doesn’t singularly glorify the gang lifestyle on albums like Lifestyle and Forever. Instead, he questions the consequences, weighs the risk against the reward, and presents a more or less balanced outlook on his life. He is now a soon-to-be father, so we expect that to further expand the complexities of his reality and sound.
Lil Daddex is a bit of an anomaly on this list. The face tatted artist employs a sound that has found a ton of popularity in the past few years. It’s Soundcloud trap music that incorporates elements from punk and emo rock scenes. He regularly discusses themes of heartbreak, using drugs to numb feelings, fantasies of death, and romantic conquests.
His numbers are undeniable. His music videos and Soundcloud uploads regularly reach upwards of 300,000 plays. It’ll be interesting to see how his sound positions him to attract a mainstream audience. We’re already seeing him get a fair amount of support from Adam22’s No Jumper. So keep your eyes on the moves Daddex will make in the future.
The EBK HotBoiiz embody the violent energy of Stockton’s underground street rap scene. They deliver raw raps over banging beats packaged with lofi mixing. At their best, they’re clicking up on mobbed out, aggressive bangers like “Dondadda” and “EBK Anthem”, licking off slick threats aimed at opps. The under produced nature of their visuals paired with the barebones grittiness of their sound recordings make for what feels like an authentic portrayal of their section. They say they’d do you grimy, and you believe it.
It’s difficult to determine exactly how many members of the crew are rappers. Each music video features at least a dozen characters occupying the background. But, rap groups are making a come back. SOB x RBE and Shoreline Mafia have proven that West Coast hip-hop groups can win in big ways on larger stages. We’ll see if EBK HotBoiiz will be the latest to do so.
Every time a Stockton rapper has walked into Thizzler HQ we’ve asked them who should we be looking out for in Stockton. Without fail J Blacc’s name always came up. The South Stockton emcee has a strong reputation in his city. He spent six years in prison from age 17 to 23 but since he’s been home, he has been putting in work to establish his name in the rap game. A representative of Trap Mob Ent., J Blacc’s goal is to unite the city despite its history of violence. He’s made an effort to work with artists from different sections in hopes the rest of the city would follow suit.
He isn’t as flashy as a Haiti Babii or MBNel, but his bars paint a vivid picture of life in the streets of Stockton. On Stoccghanistan you can hear a hunger and eagerness to create a shift for himself and his loved ones. 2019 hasn’t seen much new music from J Blacc, but if that changes it will probably make a difference in the city’s musical landscape. It’s clear he has the respect of many as well as the makings of a leader. Who knows what those characteristics can lead to when paired with frequent and consistent output.