And now, a devoted fan and local artist is arranging a more traditional artistic tribute: an Oakland art show, 'Dre Area,' featuring a selection of works in several mediums celebrating the rapper’s life, whose journey from Vallejo’s rough Crest neighborhood to local stardom helped shape the hyphy movement of the early- to mid-2000s.
But the artist curating the show wasn’t always a Mac Dre fan. The first time Alameda artist Maxwell Sage heard Dre’s music, he wasn’t impressed. Dre’s bouncy anthems celebrating drugs, partying and the occasional crime rubbed Sage these wrong way. (“I was going through my backpack hip-hop phase,” he notes.)
Yet after friends pressured him to give Dre’s music another chance, he eventually became a huge fan, not only of his music, but of the man himself. It was the early 2000s, and Dre was an omnipresent figure in the Bay Area rap community, out of prison and eager to build a unified local rap scene. Like so many others, Sage got swept up in the new, positive energy trickling around the Bay Area. “I made hyphy music, I thizzed, wore the stunna shades and everything,” he said. “The hyphy movement, from my perspective, was a whole generation of Bay Area youth trying to emulate Mac Dre.”
More than a decade after he was fatally shot in Kansas City, Mac Dre is still an influence. Recently, Sage started posting Photoshop art featuring the rapper on Instagram, where it was reposted by Thizz Entertainment, the label Dre founded that helped launch the careers of Mistah F.A.B and Keak da Sneak.