There’s Only One Bay Area Rapper At The Outside Lands Music Festival

Festival queues have always catered to the general public. When it comes to the flyer, at least, it seems like big headliners are always the draw, and anyone with text size 14 or smaller isn’t considered culturally significant enough to spend hundreds of dollars to see. I think we all accepted this festival logic.

So when the Outside Lands lineup was announced, I was both shocked that I could only recognize one Bay Area rapper on the ticket. How does the biggest festival in the Bay Area not include more of the region’s rap talent, especially when there are so many? Sure, Green Day is cool, but so is Too Short. The same goes for the E-40. So where are all the Bay Area rappers and why aren’t they the headliners?

The short answer is that the bay’s demographics have changed. Another short answer is that Bay Area rap has always been more local and music festivals sell out to the mainstreams.

Enter Larry June. As far as I know, he’s the only Bay Area rapper on the ticket. (Editor’s note: Symba, who also performs at Outside Lands, was born in the Bay Area, but his festival bio describes him as “based in Los Angeles.”)

Larry makes the kind of music that Mac Dre would co-sign and Drake would inevitably “borrow” for a verse at some point. June recounts his real life and the lessons he learns along the way. Whether he’s pushing green juice, financial stability, or just chatting about his many girlfriends, he has a way of taking the listener with him on the journey of an authentic bay life. Neither he nor his supporters want it any other way.

I sat down with him to ask him what it means to perform at Outside Lands, a festival that doesn’t necessarily do enough to promote local rappers, what it means to wear the mantle of the rap gods who have it preceded, and what the future of Bay Area rap looks like, demographics be damned.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.


MIGGS

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.


MIGGS

San Francisco rapper Larry June is scheduled to perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage. 1 credit

SFGATE: Where do you consider yourself specifically?

Larry June: San Francisco is where I was born. I only went to Vallejo for a year. I spent time at HP. I’m still in San Francisco now. Sorry, I know I’m boring.

SFGATE: As a local, where can people find you in the city?

June: Honeybear Boba. Reno liquor. Getting squid very peacefully. Honestly, I ride a bike and shit. Music recording. Hanging out with my friends. Now that I’m 31, I’m so out of it. I have my son full time, so I’m doing some daddy bullshit.

SFGATE: As the only Bay Area rapper on the Outer Lands ticket, how does that make you feel?

I mean, I think it’s super dope man. I worked a long time to get where I am. I know the Bay Area hip-hop scene, and we don’t get a lot of love like that, even for the home stuff. They gave me a good playing time. They showed a lot of love, and I feel like everything I’ve done is paying off.

But I think Outside Lands, as far as I know, is for a whole different audience anyway. Maybe they think Bay Area rap is overdone. I’m so out of the loop. It’s a whole new wave of music. The Bay Area is tricky when it comes to music, and I always wondered why there wasn’t much hip-hop here? So it’s hard to say it should be one way, and then when something big happens [for Bay Area rap], he might get shot or something. It’s a lot of politics, man. I don’t do politics. I just do me.

SFGATE: One thing I don’t like about the bay is that people feel empowered. People think they come from somewhere, so they should be on. This goes hand in hand with the set times and the people who want to book you.

June: I’m one of the biggest artists in the bay and I don’t even listen to the radio. I don’t depend on that. It’s like that. Build your own thing, and the money will come and you have to keep rocking. I would prefer it otherwise.

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.


MIGGS

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.

San Francisco rapper Larry June will perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.


MIGGS

San Francisco rapper Larry June is scheduled to perform at Outside Lands on Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage. 1 credit

SFGATE: How important is playing as Outside Lands?

June: It’s in my city, and I’m promoting the album right now, so why not? I’m not dying to do festivals, though. I don’t care if there are 100 people in my set, I just keep pushing. I don’t even care about set times or anything, I just do my thing and go home.

I just understand the path I’m on. I don’t feel like a festival is going to make or break me. I am very grateful for this opportunity, but I know that no one but me will make it. It will not be a festival, a radio or a blog. I put the work to the ground. If you blow up in the streets and make it happen in the streets, they’re going to find you. They want to get everything hot on the streets.

SFGATE: Why should people stop and see your set?

My scene will be very dope. The show is going to be amazing. A healthy and organic experience. The festivals are different, however. We did a solo show in Chicago that sold out in one day. We do Lollapalooza and it’s very different. It’s going to be dope, but different.

I think it’s cool when people don’t know who I am. That’s the fun part when people don’t know who I am. I can walk in and walk out with 200 more fans and that’s the beauty of it. I don’t even know what kind of people are going to be there. I just want to put on a good show and get back to the bag.

SFGATE: Where do you see the future of Bay Rap?

June: I think anything is possible. I think there’s going to be a new wave of young artists and someone going mainstream. There’s a lot of talent in the Bay Area. And I’m part of it, but I really think it can be something for the general public. The general public is definitely watching. The bay has always been a talented place. People come here to get ideas for their own stuff from what I see.

It’s not a real industry here as far as music is concerned. It’s like a techno world, and musically in the streets, so it’s hard for people to grow up. Maneuvering through the Bay Area is very tricky. That’s why I avoid talking about certain things. It all depends on how you move.



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