Heartbreak Gang: The Odd Future of the Bay Area, Keeping Hyphy Alive

For those who have never heard of the Heartbreak Gang (HBK), think of them as the Bay Area’s Odd Future.

In the third year since its inception, #IAMSUMMER, a showcase of HBK Gang members, has solidified its place as one of the most anticipated summertime events in the Bay Area; In a sense, it’s like the Bay Area’s Camp Flog Gnaw. I pulled up on site at the historic Fox Theatre in Oakland, and an undeniable energy was buzzing. I joined a growing, anxious crowd of fans looking to claim their spots on the GA floor to catch one of the Heart Break Gang’s most notable rappers on stage, iAMSU!.

Story | Jasmine Sabagquit

In a time where gentrification is hitting the Bay Area hard (ironically visible just a few blocks down Telegraph Ave, where the venue resides), iAMSU! brought out the real Bay Area faces in every sense, from the “YEEs” to the turf dancing, the fashion, and of course the grills. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Heartbreak Gang, think of them like the Odd Future of the Bay, a multi-talented group of artists and producers who unite and put on for their home’s music scene.

Amongst their most popular members, I’d like to think that HBK’s iAMSU! is like Tyler, the Creator (the founder), Kehlani is like Frank Ocean (the breakout superstar), P-Lo is like Hodgy Beats (the producer turned rapper), and Sage the Gemini is like Earl Sweatshirt (the rapper everyone knows).

However, the HBK Gang stands as its own entity. They’re a mix of creatives, who represent the different cities in the Bay Area, who are bringing Hyphy back to its roots, and there’s no question why that is a direct reflection of their supporters.

Anybody who’s ever been to a Hip Hop event in the Bay, knows that you’re going to be sipping some Heem (Hennessy) and if you’re not lighting up, chances are you’re probably going to get a contact high from all the weed smoke blazing in the air.

#IAMSUMMER brought a different type of experience that didn’t need a boost. From the time iAMSU! hit the stage to the end, the energy didn’t fade. Not purposely naming certain artists out, (I just can’t remember) but he was joined onstage by fellow Bay Area rappers, Nef the Pharaoh, Kool John, Myles, Dave Steezy, Kool John and Show Banga, as while as special appearances from Casey Veggies and Bay Area legends Mistah F.A.B. and Clyde Carson. Su even brought out a Chinese Dragon performer on stage while he performed “Shang Hai”.

The annual summer concert felt like a family function. iAMSU! could have easily taken all the shine as front and center on the main stage, but he allowed the team to showcase their individually, unique talents. And for those who have ever doubted that the Bay was losing its flavor because of the change in tides that gentrification brings, fear not because Su and the Heartbreak Gang are keeping that Bay Area culture alive and blooming.

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