My name is Albert I DJ by the name whatsupalbert … I also used to DJ under the name Neto. I’m from Richmond, California, and I made a mix about …kind of downtown, West Oakland.
I chose these neighborhoods because these are the neighborhoods I moved to when I first came to Oakland and started living here permanently. Also, it’s probably, maybe the wildest, funnest time that I had Djing… is kind of the reason I chose the time period. Also I just think it was an interesting time in Oakland nightlife, and I kind of wanted to have a little fun with that and just, you know, reminisce a little bit.
The time period that I chose was the 2010s, probably up to about 2015 or so. Just kind of the tail end of the warehouse party scene, house parties, and just kind of my starting out deejaying. And I chose that period because it was a lot different, the nightlife [then] …there weren’t all the bars and venues there are now in Downtown Oakland, so everyone kind of had to make their own spaces. You know, like I said, warehouses, living rooms, kitchens, storage units like, you know, we were throwing parties on busses. It was just wherever we could put a P.A. system.
And a lot of the stuff I played was just stuff that I felt like, at the time, I couldn’t hear in the couple of bars that were here. And, you know, just because it was just stuff that was interesting to me. It is kind of the things that came after the Hyphy movement in the bay and in Oakland in particular. Things like Cloud Rap, and things like HBK Gang and those kind of people who took those ideas and kind of remixed it. And also, just the beginning of being on Twitter and people being accessible all over the world where you could just reach out to people and learn about Juke and learn about Jersey Club and learn about, you know, what they’re playing in Mexico and all over the world. It was mind expanding as a DJ, you know, being like, “I have everything”, you know, so that was the time period I really wanted to play around with. But with the focus on what I felt happened in the bay in our little crew of people.
Some of the stories that kind of pop out [from the time] are the beginnings of First Fridays, like, Art Murmur that sort of stuff…when people came down from the art galleries, drinking beers out of paper bags and that just kind of growing. And throwing some parties where we were able to bring in people from Spain, deejay people from different parts of the world. Chicago Juke deejays, we had DJ Earl and stuff. And just try to put on a couple of different rappers that we really loved like Main Attrakionz. And producers we love like Friendzone and and those sorts of things. I think the best part of it was just seeing what people were making in their living rooms and then feeling like I had pipelines to this really creative energy. That’s basically what I remember it as, but also not remembering a lot of stuff because it was a very weird time. It was a very big party scene, for sure.
I feel like the neighborhood has changed in the last few years. There’s more venues now that are official, you know, more bars to play at. I think DJing is more accessible than ever, so there’s just a lot more voices in that scene, which I think is dope. I think it’s great and a lot of people are getting paid to do what they love, which is great. And yeah, I do miss the, you know, underground aspect to it. Um, so I would say that’s the biggest change is that Downtown Oakland IS the nightlife center right now. And the amount of people that are out having fun has increased, you know, exponentially for better or worse. And so, yeah, I think that’s definitely the biggest change is that there’s just a whole nightlife scene down here where, you know, 10 years ago there wasn’t there was maybe a handful of bars, you know
I think gentrification has changed a lot of the neighborhood scene in a lot of ways. Like I said, everything is a little bit more sterile. Everyone doesn’t live in old Victorian houses. They live in these new mega apartment complexes and stuff like that. So it is a lot harder to feel like you’re in a neighborhood. It feels a little bit like you’re in some ultra clean development. Going to a nightclub is fun, going to a bar is fun. But I’m glad I spent my 20s going into people’s actual spaces and seeing how they live, and, it’s definitely easier on the wallet.
The music has changed in a lot of ways because of the internet, you can have all these kind of niche musics and subcultures being catered to in nightlife now. Which I think is really dope. People play all sorts of really forward-thinking dance music and cumbia and things from all over the world and thats because there’s more people in more establishments… those voices are heard more and those places get followings and they, don’t have to necessarily only go to a nightclub where top 40 is being played. The people are putting their money where their mouth is and getting these places support. On the flip side, I do, kind of miss, when there were less places and everyone kind of had to rub elbows with each other because that made some really great art. You know, if you’re hanging out with all the punks and the metal heads and the rappers and artists and playwrights, it does make, I think, better art. But I’m really glad that there’s just stuff that whatever you’re interested in, you can go see it. And that’s amazing. You know?
So I think COVID definitely impacted the neighborhood. A lot of the parties that I would play were, you know, live work spaces, homes, that sort of stuff. And, you know, obviously you can’t do that sort of thing anymore. People aren’t inviting each other into their spaces, or they probably shouldn’t be. I hope they’re not, you know? But you kind of lose that intimacy. A lot of stuff is replacing it, things like Twitch and streaming and that sort of stuff. But it’s not the same as, you know, being on top of somebody, crowd surfing in a kitchen, you know, it’s just not the same.
I want to say, what’s up to everybody in the old crew TT6 and Sick Sad World crews, Local 1200. All the deejays that started the downtown scene Local 1200 and the Oakland Faders. Really just an amazing history of deejaying in Oakland, especially in this neighborhood in particular. And uh, yeah, everybody that went to those old parties. I hope you’re well. Friendzone and Main Attrakionz ought to be way more thought of as an influence on modern rap. And Friendzone and all these people. And yeah, you kind of had to be there.
(This interview has been edited for clarity)
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