About a year ago, Oakland held performances from numerous musical eras at City Hall. I was part of the team tasked with researching and curating a collection of music from four time periods – ’50s through the ’90s and some modern artists – in the city's history. Although it was interesting to discover Oakland's music history, I want to focus on modern-day as the area’s entertainment scene is rapidly growing.
I grew up experiencing the nightlife around 2013, and that was an interesting time because it was after the big recession. Oakland was starting to blossom again with new residents who were either attracted to the city or could no longer stay in San Francisco, Alameda or Berkeley.
Here's what I've experienced so far.
Kilo The Wizard, an Oakland artist who doesn't shy away from punching the creative boundary. that delivers tracks like “Memory Overload Goodnight” with alluring melodies combined with his mystical style shot by Rene Ramirez giving fans an ambient visual aid. It's no surprise that his popularity is growing and is considered a key role in Bay Area hip-hop resurgence in the entertainment scene.
Elujay, a big repper of the town with notable projects like Blu, delivers a relaxing, stimulating blend of hip hop and Rnb. He pulls inspiration from Kendrick Lamar and Musiq Soulchild. He’s continuing on the path of taking his sound to transcendent levels and creating his own wave to Oakland.
One of Oakland's emerging hip-hop innovators is people like Ovrkast. One of the notable up-and-comers in the resurgence that gained popularity in 2019. Claiming that it comes easy for the young rapper as told in an article by Rolling Stone.
If Frank Ocean and Sade had a baby, ASTU would be it. Oakland artist ASTU was a former minister and she now refuses to pledge allegiance to a single vibe. She cultivates a brilliant blend of retro-soul, 90’s R&B, and a touch of new wave-inspired synth-pop. With a knack for turning irresistible grooves into unhurried bangers.
Bars and Venues
Buildings all over downtown Oakland have found venues occupying those spaces. CryBaby Oakland is a brand new club that had its grand opening in February 2022, and has since, become one of the most popular spots in Oakland’s nightlife. In-house DJ’s like Whatsupalbert, bring fun nostalgic 90s-themed parties every month that always have the venue packed.
I also wanted to mention the Oakland Metro Operahouse. Through Crybaby, I discovered that they're known for hosting Hoodslam, which is an amateur underground theatrical wrestling event that you should check out, and if you don't know much about mature wrestling, you should watch “GLOW.”
Eli’s Mile High Club is a bar on the outskirts of downtown; a bar that has a venue that books shows that are diverse and has grown popular for weekend nights of bar hopping. Amidst their success, they started renovations to the venue in 2021 and in 2022 they finished and claimed ownership, renovated and reopened Stork Club with a brand new Betty Boop mural.
The New Parish is a well-established venue with multiple bar rooms and upstairs seating areas which adds to the experience. In the main space, which is the stage, you can get pretty intimate with the artists that perform there — featuring bands in many different genres including R&B, hip-hop and alternative rock. Shows can be as reasonable at $10 but for big artists, you have to throw down more, and are often sold out.
Old Oakland’s neighborhoods are mostly known for their foodie spots, streets that are lit up, and paved-brick sidewalks. One spot stands out more than the other, and that's the Parliament. I've come to appreciate the ambiance the space has. It's a perfect place to throw events and performers like DJ Edel an emerging DJ who threw warehouse shows and parties spin at venues like this.
I hope this helps you discover Oakland more intimately.