Hyphy began as true outsider music. No one outside of San Francisco or Oakland was listening to music from the Bay Area in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Rappers from the Bay were effectively shuffled into their own regional corner and kept at arm’s length from mainstream rap radio.
Many rappers and scenes decide to sulk after years of being brushed off by the hip-hop cognoscenti, wearing their outsider status as a badge of honor to gain favor with their fans (aka “pulling a Gambino”). Hyphy flipped this notion on its head.
Rather than mope about a lack of acceptance or conform to the standards of rap radio at the time, Hyphy artists turned their corner of the world into a party everyone would like to attend. Featuring simplistic refrains over slapping bass drums and rife with the signature slang and vibe of Bay Area youth culture, Hyphy was a defiant (and probably drunk) middle finger to the rest of the United States.
Though the origin and entymology and origin of the term “Hyphy” is widely disputed, consensus says that the term was coined by Keak da Sneak in 1994 (thought to be a play on “hyperactive”) and first appeared on Keak Da Sneak’s 1998 track “Alright Cool.”
Keak Da Sneak – Alright Cool