Hiero Day is once again upon us, and the holiday’s sixth annual celebration continues to bridge the gaps among the Bay Area’s avenues of hip-hop, art, and culture right in the streets of Oakland.
Naturally, the event’s namesake and other NorCal rap legends take top billing. But the selection of DJs and up-and-coming youngsters is what makes this year’s lineup particularly exciting, so we’re going to give you the lowdown on the seven must-see surefire shots this Labor Day.
Born in LA and elevated in San Francisco, Duckwrth has slowly but surely come into his own over the course of his two-decade-and-change existence in this world. The “funk wave” movement founder (who opened for Anderson .Paak on his 2015 tour) is an eclectic fireball encompassing and embracing every aspect of his persona: A little punk rock, a little hip-hop, a little avant garde, psychedelic and unafraid to put his own spin on any piece of art and culture he lays hands on. His latest single, “MICHUUL.” is a funk-ode to the King of Pop and comes from his upcoming An Xtra Uugly Mixtape, the follow-up to his vibrant and catchy release, I’m Uugly.
Say “Hey!” to King Most at his Hiero Day debut, bringing his well-seasoned San Francisco nightlife vibes to Oakland’s annual hometown heroes celebration. The curator and selector for events such as Soul Slam and Wonder-full, King Most has been called a chameleon of sorts for his mental library of tunes and general music junkie-ness that allows him to rock parties of any flavor, from Top 40s and club rap to rare disco cuts and boogie jams. Oh, and his production hand isn’t too shabby either.
Black Ken is out in the universe and Lil B is back on stage. The 2017 Hiero Day should be an extra-special event with the Based God’s effervescent positivity in the air — the Berkeley rapper’s long-withstanding loyalists have got to be itching to see him back on the mic, especially after waiting seven long years for Black Ken to arrive to the surface. Lil B took a two-year hiatus to fully dedicate himself to the 27-track project, so it’ll be interesting to check out how his newfound musicianship translates to an outdoor stage.
In early 2016, LA Weekly contributor Jeff Weiss called Linafornia’s Yung record, “the best rookie album” emerging from the city’s burgeoning beat scene. Since then, the self-dubbed ‘MF MOON’ has been playing at local beat showcases (Low End Theory, The Exchange, The Rabbit Hole, Smart Bomb), and festivals (SXSW, Soundset, Girlschool LA) around the country. Linafornia is a master at chopping and repurposing samples to meld a Madlib-esque vintage soul sound with the space dust vibes that may be reminiscent of Ras G and Flying Lotus, but demands to be recognized as uniquely her own.
Clearly, Rayana Jay is a Bay Bridged favorite. But can you really blame us? Her 2016 EP Sorry About Last Night received high praise for its confessional tone sung in Rayana’s sensual notes, and she’s just coming off a successful New York City listening party for her follow-up project, Morning After (out on September 15). In an earlier TBB interview, she calls this project the bounce-back record in concept and sound, teaming up with familiar and fresh producers such as Mikos Da Gawd, Drew Banga and Soulection’s ROM to cushion her brand new wave. Also be sure to check out her tour DJ, Red Corvette, drop a Hiero Day set as well.
Toro y Moi (DJ Set)
Everyone has that friend that’s quiet and shy, but deep down is the coolest person you know. That’s Toro y Moi for you, the dude responsible for some our favorite records, including Causers of This, Anything in Return and the work under his counter-moniker, Les Sins. As a man who likes to switch up his style from album to album, that’s a prime indicator of an extensive music knowledge at work, which can only carry over to his DJ sets. There’s no telling what Toro y Moi will bust out for his DJ sets, only way to find out is to show up. Pro tip: Bring dancing shoes.
Whether you call him Young Murph the Kidd or YMTK, the LA-via-East Oakland rapper has been slyly, yet consistently, releasing bangers since August 2016, starting with his All the Right Places album, his collaborative EP with Rexx Life Raj dubbed Emoji Goats, and a string of loosies in between. Despite being listed last on this list (solely for alphabetical reasons), YMTK easily sits at the top of our Hiero Day priorities because we want to see smooth-y king in person. On record, YMTK somehow manages to fit his melodic croons comfortably on any track, whether it’s an 90’s R&B-sampled jam or a hyphy-inspired club heater. And with the level of Bay Area collaborators he has in his back pocket, there’s no telling who will show up and share the stage with him.
Hiero Day 2017
18th & Poplar (Oakland)
September 4, 2017