New Zion I Song "Tech $" Tackles Tech Fueled Gentrification of Oakland and the Bay Area

Posted by Billyjam, June 28, 2016 11:57pm | Post a Comment

In September Zion I will release the album the Labyrinth featuring the new preview track "Tech $"  (Anthony Cole directed music video below). "Tech $" is about the impact of gentrification in Oakland as a result of the Bay Area tech boom.  Zumbi has lived in the Bay Area since the nineties and has seen a lot of changes. In the ZIon I hit of a decade ago, "The Bay," he rapped of all the diverse things that made the Bay great on the anthem like track. The new song is not as uplifting.  On the post AmpLive, Mikos da Gawd produced track he recalls how, "In the nineties it was the dot com" but now it is full scale gentrification, an unavoidable scenario that's been noticed (and noted) by other Oakland hip-hoppers.

Prozack Turner
of Foreign Legion fame, who lives in East Oakland and runs the Oakland bar/club The Legionnaire Saloon on Telegraph Ave. near Grand Ave., addresses the topic of gentrification in the song "HIgh Enough." The brand new track, that features mic guest Brother Ali, is from a forthcoming solo album by the Oakland artist. Meanwhile another Oakland artist, Elujay, has themed his entire forthcoming album on the topic with the title Jentrify.

While gentrification and displacement of artists is a familiar topic in the Bay Area, similar scenarios are unfolding all over.  Another recent song that addresses the same topic is "But Anyway" by Tarica June (video below). The Washington DC rapper, who goes by her first name professionally, has seen the impact of gentrification on DC.  Earlier this year when profiled on NPR she noted how gentrification is happening everywhere. "People have contacted me from Oakland. Somebody on Facebook posted something saying, 'This could be about Austin' — which, I didn't even know things like this were going on in Austin. People have posted, 'This is just like Detroit,' or 'This is just like Brooklyn.'"  

Brooklyn, as well as Harlem, are two good examples of the current gentrification's impact on the culture of New York City. Between 1990 and 2014 rents in Central Harlem rose 53% and drove out much of its black population which fell from 77% to 55% percent in that time period. As for Brooklyn, many have suggested that it's gentrification that's helping erase hip-hop culture. The Brooklyn immortalized in Spike Lee movies and that gave the world such artists as Jay Z, the Notorious B.I.G., and Mos Def doesn't exist anymore. Hence hip-hop like that cannot be made. It's been driven out with the rise in real estate value.

Zion I "Tech $" (2016)

Tarica "But Anyway" (2016)

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Gentrification (5), Hip-hop (217), Zion I (29), Tarica (1), Mos Def (20), Prozack Turner (7), Elujay (1)