The word hyphy ( HY-fee) is Oakland slang meaning "hyperactive". More specifically it is an adjective that describes the music and the urban culture associated with that area. It was created by Oakland-based rapper Keak da Sneak when he used the term on an album he recorded in 1992.
The hyphy culture began to emerge in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a response from Bay Area rappers against commercial hip hop for not acknowledging their region for setting trends in the hip hop industry. It is distinguished by gritty, pounding rhythms, and in this sense can be associated with San Francisco Bay as crunk and trap music is to the Southern United States. An individual is said to "get hyphy" when they dance in an overstated, fast-paced and ridiculous manner, or if they get overloud with other people. The phrase "to get hyphy" is similar to the southern phrase "to get crunk". Those who consider themselves part of the hyphy movement strive for this behavior.
Although the "hyphy movement" briefly saw light in mainstream America, it has been a long-standing and ever evolving culture in the Bay Area since the early 1990s. Throughout the Bay Area (particularly in East Oakland), there are regularly events called "sideshows", where different people come together and partake in or watch illegal automobile performances. This is where drivers do things such as donuts, ghost-riding and street race while others dance and "go dumb" around them. These events can be very dangerous. From a USA Today article: "Every record label was getting at us at that time, but we fumbled the ball," says E-40, whose My Ghetto Report Card entered the Billboard album chart at No. 3 in March 2006. "I hung on like a hubcap in the fast lane along with a few other rappers, and now it's time again. We had a 10-year drought and they went to other regions and were bypassing us like the sand out here. But we're trendsetters, and the rap game without the Bay Area is like old folks without bingo."
For many Bay Area natives it is crucial that Rapper Mac Dre is dubbed one of the head founders of the Hyphy Movement, after his tragic death in 2004, Mac Dre paved the way for a new musical genre. Mac Dre's Treal TV DVD special represented everything Hyphy, from what goes on at the sideshows to street slang, and common dances like "going dumb" and the "thizzle dance" became popular moves created by Mac Dre. Many artist like Drake and DJ Mustard pay homage to Mac Dre because he had a huge influence in their musical career. With the start of Mac Dre's label, Thizz Entertainment, he was able to shine a light on local talent such as E-40 and Andre Nickatina, prominent members of the Bay Area rap scene. The energy of Hyphy music had anyone feeling happy and along with Mac Dre's upbeat personality, the two went hand and hand.
In the early to mid-2010s, the genre of hyphy music saw a resurgence in the mainstream as a part of being a stylistic influence to an up tempo and club oriented type of mainstream hip hop known as "ratchet music," which was popularized by various Los Angeles producers, including DJ Mustard. The production style of DJ Mustard is adapted from hyphy music and played a role in bringing West Coast hip hop back to national attention. DJ Mustard has been attached in producing for popular artists' singles, which include: Tyga's, "Rack City," 2 Chainz's "I'm Different," Young Jeezy's "R.I.P.," B.o.B's "HeadBand," YG's "My Nigga" and "Who Do You Love?" (as well as the majority of his 2014 debut album My Krazy Life), Ty Dolla Sign's "Paranoid," Kid Ink's "Show Me," Trey Songz's "Na Na," Omarion's "Post to Be," and Big Sean's "I Don't Fuck With You," among others.
Among the local, more peripheral acts that achieved success outside of the Bay Area include Lil B, a member of the Berkeley rap group The Pack that has built a strong cult following on the Internet; the Richmond-based hip hop collective HBK Gang with individual members Iamsu!, Kehlani, Sage the Gemini, and P-Lo making their marks in the mainstream ; Oakland-born pop rapper G-Eazy, who has gained two Billboard Top-10 hits with "Me, Myself & I" and "No Limit" (the latter featuring ASAP Rocky and Cardi B); and the Vallejo-based quartet SOB x RBE, who found mainstream attention after being featured on the track "Paramedic!" in the Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack album for the 2018 superhero film Black Panther.
In November 2011, Canadian hip hop artist Drake released the song "The Motto," featuring Young Money labelmate Lil Wayne, as the fourth single for his sophormore album Take Care. The song's instrumental (produced by T-Minus) takes major influence from hyphy music, and was a commercial success in the US--having sold 3,113,000 copies in the US as of April 2013--due to the meteoric popularity of the catchphrase YOLO during that time. It peaked atop both the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and US Rap Songs charts, and was ranked 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-end Chart. "The Motto" was also nominated for Best Rap Song at the 55th Grammy Awards. A music video was released on February 10, 2012 and features cameos from Bay Area rappers E-40 and Mistah F.A.B. as well as including an introduction from the mother of Mac Dre, Wanda Salvatto. Salvatto has also said, in a 2016 interview with Complex Media, that Drake told her how Mac Dre influenced him when he was 15 years old, and how important that was to him.
DJ Mustard's popularity around the same time began another movement that stemmed from the Bay Area, known as R&Bass. Coined by producer J Maine, this movement has gained widespread popularity, specifically on the Internet. R&Bass blends hyphy music with contemporary R&B, thus garnering crossover appeal. Artists like Jonn Hart, Rayven Justice, and producers like Christopher Dotson embrace the R&Bass style. As well, through this movement, there have been numerous collaborations with various hyphy artists, including E-40.
As a result of the recognizably and commonality between many of DJ Mustard's chart-topping singles, a number of artists who employ production similar to his have been criticized for unoriginality and sometimes plagiarism, with some of the biggest offenders of this style rip-off including the 2014 chart-topping Iggy Azalea single, "Fancy" and "Classic Man," the 2015 debut single by rapper Jidenna which samples "Fancy". However, the popularity of Mustard's style started to gain influence outside of hip hop. In 2012, electronic dance music (EDM), which incorporated elements of southern trap music, began gaining popularity and brought wider attention to the derivative forms of trap, including hyphy, as well as Jamaican Dancehall music. This so-called "EDM Trap" genre saw the use of techno, dub, and house sounds combined with the Roland TR-808 drum samples and vocal samples typical of trap.
In December 2013, French producer DJ Snake and American rapper Lil Jon released the single "Turn Down For What", which became both a commercial hit charting in several countries and a viral hit throughout 2014. The composition of the song borrows elements from crunk and hyphy songs, and Rolling Stone voted "Turn Down For What" as the second best song of 2014, saying that, "The year's nutsiest party jam was also the perfect protest banger for a generation fed up with everything. DJ Snake brings the synapse-rattling EDM and Southern trap music; Lil Jon brings the dragon-fire holler for a hilarious, glorious, glowstick-punk fuck you."
The success of "Turn Down for What" set the standard for Trap EDM and even Pop music in the mid-2010s, which kept the influence and legacy of hyphy music alive. Among those songs include the DJ Snake and Major Lazer collaboration "Lean On," the Skrillex-produced Justin Bieber single "Sorry," and the chart-topping 2016 song "Closer" by American DJ duo The Chainsmokers.
Known as Hyphy and hailing from Oakland's Bay Area, the synth-led staccato beats represent a culture that encompasses cars, clothing, slanguage, graffiti and dances like 'going dumb' and 'ghostridin' the whip'... Deriving from the word 'hyperactive,' or referring to the act of 'getting hyped,' getting excited and rowdy, Hyphy may be most syonymous with Mac Dre but the style and phrase was first coined on record by Bay legend Keak da Sneak. While it may be far from fledgling, it's new to mainstream music ears and thanks to artists like The Pack, Mistah Fab, E-40, and the late Mac Dre, it's about the most exciting offshoot seen in rap since crunk.
... the Bay Area biggest hip-hop genre known as hyphy (pronounced "hi-fee"), in which stewiness, maininess, dumbness are everything: the means and ends, the sun and moon and stars...
Hyphy was born in the cities of Oakland, Richmond, and Vallejo in the late 1990s... The movement started in the '90s and gained momentum in the early 2000s as a response from Bay Area rappers to commercial hip-hop's ignoring of the Bay's influence.