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SF Rapper San Quinn Returns to San Jose, Weighs in on Bay Area Rap Scene

In Clubs, Music

“When I think about us on a national or international level, there ain’t nothing bigger than E-40 or Too Short,” he points out. “I’m just ready to see us on these Top 20 weekend jams with two or three videos in the mix, not just one.”

Though hip-hop fans may attribute the strength of a scene to the overall star power of its talent, its sustainability is dependent upon maintaining visibility despite turnover. That’s been a missing link in the development of the Bay Area scene. To take that next step, Quinn contends, “We need a mogul.”

Why has the Bay Area struggled to gain a foothold? In addition to the lack of a sustainable local industry, Quinn links it back to nationwide misperception about the scene’s message. “They don’t really look to us for respect,” he admits.

The Bay Area’s rap sound, he says, is still considered goofy, an association that gained national momentum after coverage of hyphy focused on illegal car sideshows and ghost-riding the whip, the act of dancing alongside your car while it rolls in neutral.

“Even when you listen to Chief Keef coming out of Chi Town, you might not like everything he’s saying, but there’s a certain aura and persona to him,” Quinn says. “Even if you’re still dancing and moving to it, it’s not funny. I think most of [our] music is funny to people.”

Asked for his current take on the state of hip-hop in the Bay Area, Quinn didn’t mince words. “It’s not bubbling,” he concedes. “I see Iamsu on his way, but he’s a rapper. What we need is business to start taking place here.”

While he hopes to see a greater infrastructure develop, Quinn has been enjoying recent success from a left-field source: Tap Tap Revenge, a touch-based mobile game similar to Dance Dance Revolution. Following the lead of his manager, he agreed to add “Paid” to the game’s song catalog. So far, the gamble has paid off.

“I got 40 or 50 thousand downloads [from the game],” he says, admitting it’s forced him to do his homework. “It’s making me try and figure out what it is.”

Still willing to give anything a chance, Quinn’s out there with his brush, ready to paint.

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