FEATURE: Keak Da Sneak,Left Coastin’

You know how they say don’t yell “fire” in a movie theater? Well don’t yell Keak Da Sneak’s name in the Bay. Just mentioning him has been known to instantly make legions of Northern Californians ghost ride their whips, start side shows and go dumb. But outside of the Bay, there’s less of an effect, even though the Oakland MC has been in the game for over 15 years. Formerly a member of the gold-selling group 3X Krazy in the 90s, many outside of Cali were first turned on to him from his scene-stealing verse on E-40’s 2006 smash hit “Tell Me When To Go.” Although he boasts a hardcore following that swears by the gravel-voiced rapper’s every word, the energetic left coast rhymer still has a chip on his shoulder and is channeling it through his music. XXLmag.com caught up with Keak to discuss his latest projects, why Hyphy won’t die and what’s holding the Bay back.

XXLMag: It seems like hyphy disappeared from the national spotlight but you still rep it. Do you feel like the rest of the country treated it like a fad?

Keak Da Sneak: Well first of all [hyphy] is more than a movement, it’s a ritual. It’s a way of life. It’s really how we get down out here. I’ve been creating good music way before the word hyphy. I came up with that word in like ’95-’96. I feel like it was misrepresented. I just feel like a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon and tried to capitalize off of it and they didn’t treat it like how they were supposed to. They treated it like it was a lick. Like, I don’t know if they thought it just meant rapping over uptempo beats or what, but it’s more than that. But hyphy isn’t going nowhere, it’s how we have fun out here, similar to crunk in the South. This is what we do. It’s here to stay. Even if we gotta force feed ‘em that shit.

XXL: I know you recently had a promotion where you were giving your iced out “Keak Da Sneak” chain away to one of your fans. Who’s walking around with that now?

Keak: Yea, I was just going to give it to one of my fans kind of as a treat for being down with me for so long. It was made for me and given to me by a jewelry shop. I just wanted one of my fans to show me all of my albums like ‘man, I been down with you, I been following you, I deserve that chain.’ I had broads doing crazy shit like [sending pictures] with my albums between they booty cheeks…it was crazy. I got a lot of feedback from that. But nobody even ended up winning the chain, and I was really going to give it away too.

XXL: OK, your last record, Deified, was released this past summer and now you’ve just released two new projects, Word Pimpin’ 2 with QZ and Baby S and Welcome To Skokland with San Quinn. Why put out more material so soon?

Keak: Basically, I’m just trying to stay in they face like Noxzema, nah mean ? Just doing new shit. I still feel like I have something to prove. Prove that I’m still relevant and I still do good music. I still feel like I’m being slept on, not where I’m from, but in other regions. I still feel like I’m one of the best kept secrets. The Word Pimpin, I’m really just featured on it. It’s more like a Keak presents, but that was for LA. They love me in LA and I just took it to the streets with that album. I’m just able to do that cause I’m still independent, but in a major way.

XXL: Speaking of independent, the whole Bay is known for its indie grind. With the industry changing, has your independent hustle changed too?

Keak: Well, right now with the bootlegging and the internet, it’s kind of hard to sell [those same amount of] records if you’re not already that dude. If you don’t already have that fan base. But me, I can sell 30 or 40K and if I’m getting $5 or $6 off a record, I’m eating. Plus I’m still doing shows. So you just gotta still be grinding. I’m still out here. Still shaking hands and taking pictures with my fans. You just gotta keep something fresh, something new.

XXL: The Bay has its share of stars from Mac Dre (R.I.P.) to E-40, Too Short to yourself. What’s stopping the Bay from being the next powerhouse region?

Keak: I think we need a lot more unity. Basically, the Bay’s story hasn’t been told. There’s something new happening everyday. It’s hard to really explain the Bay but we’re trying to preserve what we have for the next generation. We’re leaders, we’re trendsetters. Our slang, the way we talk, our dress. But it’s like being on the cover of Madden, we’re cursed. All these other regions, they be platinum before we even hear the shit. Niggas take from what we do, put it out there and make millions off it. But to actually do music where I’m from, it’s hella hard. You gotta put in extra work. I gotta do it like I’m doing it. I’m not a quitter and I’ve already started something. People are counting on me. I’m not going to be hot forever, but while it’s there I got to capitalize. I’m not going to be putting out albums when I’m 40.

XXL: So come 40 what will you be doing? What’s next after the albums stop?

Keak: I’m just trying to pave the way for the next, you feel me. Like Too $hort opened it up to show there’s talent out in Oakland. There’s more $horts, more Keak Da Sneaks, more En Vougues, more Tony! Toni! Tones, more MC Hammers. But I’m making smart investments to come money coming in other than rap. I got a shoe coming, Keak Sneakers. I’ve written a couple movies, just getting it while it’s there. Because when it’s all said and done I just wanna make sure I’m on top. -Anthony Roberts

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  • Devon

    This might be pretty good better than that nipsy hussle bullshit at least this nigga dont put dead niggas he dnt know on his shit

  • that nigga

    Listen XXL. Stop interviewing corny niggas. Please. I know you gotta show love to all areas, north, south, west, midwest, blah, blah, blah, etc…But got damn, man. There are some nicer rappers and m.c.’s out there you could be interviewing. You and these corny motherfuckers suck.


    You suck the bay area just like ATL BUNCH OF HOMos SaN FRAN

    • c_realla

      EASTCOAST is the yeast coast, bitchass corny son talkin ass ni99as

  • og bobby j

    pure ass…lets hope this shit never makes it out of the bay. when e-40 and too short are your claims to fame, your rap cred is ass!

  • gerv

    East Oakland reppin all day do yo thang man and shake off these hatin ass niggas that don’t respect the Bay!

  • Mutada al sader the king

    What no mention of Spice one ? Ah man.. Do you Keak, I dont really fuck with you but you doing something right.


    NY has a bigger population , so that means you more faggots….. all of them live in the Village, and Meat packing district… fuck the east coast all ya niggas live in closets and call that shit a condo.

  • Nate

    That bitch a$$ ni$$a doesn’t know shi%
    The gay jokes are tired because out rappers don’t live in the Castro. Fillmoe, H.P., East Oakland, etc, come spend some time in our real neighborhoods and you won’t talk down on the Bay. LISTEN to the artists or buy a taste of their 15-20 album collection before you think a verse on E-40 or Mac Dre’s album is what they are all about. Keak is totally a acquired taste like Beer, but he does have a lot of substance in his rhymes when you get accustomed to his voice. Atlanta snap music isn’t original or talented. Again if you haven’t listened to the various albums from San Quinn, Messy Marv, Turf Talk, E-40, Keak, Mistah F.A.B., Locksmith, B-Legit,Ya Boy, mac Dre etc then you can’t speak on the Bay. If you want dope lyrics listen, If you want hyphy, listen. Club songs, ditto, serious issues, ditto. You just need to know which albums and artists to sell you the brand of crack you lack. If it’s about a wise crack you spit from your bitch lips, then you shouldn’t be posting a blog on this. because you aren’t qualified to speak on it.

    The Eastcoast doesn’t suck when it comes to talented artists but the biter who used it to speak down on us does. Never generalize on a area. I mentioned Atl snap music but I recognize real artists. ATL artists off the top of the head I bump Outkast, Luda, T.I.P.,
    Youngbloodz, Killer Mike, etc but I recognize in general there is a lot of talent. In other words unlike the ignant I’m not hating on a region just because I see a A&R contrived video from Dem Franchize Bitch Boyz.

  • Nate

    Hey Bitch Bobby:

    If you an “OG” then you know E-40 is a true one since long before 93. Put together many Gold records, and sold over 5 million CD’s not including the Click or his whole empire of artists he presides over. Invented a lot that the whole nation copied.

    And are you kidding? Talking about Too Short? He ONLY has half a dozen Platinum records and Half a dozen Gold ones!! He’s ONLY been in the games since 83! No that wasn’t a typo hoe. 83, not 93. So you cats in your 20′s shouldn’t use the term OG. If you don’t know call up wikipedia so you can now know.

    Too Short sold 12-20 Million but he’s a artist that has also that many albums bootlegged. There are hundreds of thousands of stories of people who all say that Too Short was that artist (like Too Live Crew) that they would hide from the parents because they would get their ass beat because of the lyrics. This was since pre-NWA era through the decades so what you know about that?

    And as much as we give 50 for bringing back the mixtape as a means of getting yourself or your group out there to the public Too Short STARTED that in the early 80′s. It was born in Oakland. He made mixtapes for the crews and neighborhoods shouting them out and slanging them personalized like a T-Shirt Shop does. Dudes was riding listening to the top artist shouting out their hood and Nobody had that before.

    You might as well talk down On KRS 1, Sugar Hill, and all the pioneers while you are at it.
    Tell us Pac and Biggy suck next. You are on a roll.

  • Stylistic

    All these people hatin on the yay area. Keak’s album might be pretty straight! I’m sorry but the west coast has been puttin out some fire since the origin of the hyphy movement 3 years ago, E-40′s been puttin out the best music of his career since reinventing himself. Too Short’s last 3 albums were hot, especially Blow the Whistle, and Game and Snoop dropped classics in 2006, which is pretty recent. South this and South that, but Sorry, the west has been puttin out the best music the last few years, and we need more of their shit on the radio and in the clubs….and oh yeah I’m from the Eastcoast!

  • Anti-Mainstream

    Co-sign with everything Nate and Stylistic said! The West Coast is def a highly underrated coast. We’ve had some good music coming out of there for a while now, and they def deserve more recognition and respect then they are getting!

  • trend setta

    nate nd stylistic…mad respect..VALLEJO STAND UP!