Recalling an unprecedented Bay Area sound with Kamaiyah

Growing up in the Bay Area, the likelihood of hearing retro synthesizers, varied bass rhythms, and heartfelt stories disregarding the Hyphy Movement is pretty high. For someone living outside of the little cluster of cities by the water, this sound is probably new.

Story | Nico Blitz

Image | Instagram

Introducing Kamaiyah, who released her debut mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto, an ode to her experiences through her 21 years of life growing up in Oakland, California. Her entertaining storytelling, exciting lyricism, and smooth instrumentals take you on a journey to the 90s and create an aura that brings out the party animal, lowkey chillin’ with your homies livelihood, and the personality of an artist who has seen her fair share of ups and downs.

But one thing I noticed in her style is a reminder of retro Bay Area music, minus the Hyphy Movement. Listening to the first track of the mixtape “I’m On”, I found a resemblance in an old Roach Gigz single “Get It” and got reminded of Mob Squad’s “Da Urkel Dance” – two songs primarily known by Bay Area rap enthusiasts.

However, what differentiates the Oakland MC is how she presents her topics. Indeed the instrumentals emulate Old School Bay Area, and she can’t express enough of her pleasurable lifestyle, but she touches upon both her ups and downs and masks them behind this sound.

Take the entire second verse of “I’m On” for example.

Put your mind to this shit and it’ll happen/ I grew up in the slums wasn’t raised up in a mansion/ Days full of hurt, I was sad/ Pallet on the floor, no pads for the mattress
Music was my answer to the madness/ I say I gotta do this, so I focused on the rapping
Father was on drugs was my daddy/ Mama ain’t around, black queen, but I’m damaged
This is the life that I came from/ Struggling, hurting, and anger
But I stayed down with my day ones/ God made a way and I came up

Or even camouflaging the club banger “How Does It Feel” with the fact that she yearns to feel a surplus of real money.

And somehow in the same tape she’s more than willing to express a deeper side of her life, opposite from the energetic slaps the radio would likely play.

She’s displayed immense versatility in only her first mixtape release. This makes a great foundation for the projects she has cooking up for the future. As a Bay Area native, I would love continue seeing her flourish with the nationally unprecedented Old School Bay Area sound. But one thing’s for sure, she’s en route to no longer singing “How Does it Feel”.

Founder of The Lunch Table. Writer, DJ and Master of Ceremonies.

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