We're posting our favorite Bay Area albums of 2018 every weekday through Dec. 14. Check back here to see who else made the list.
This year, Girlz N The Hood faced the biggest tragedy that could befall a tight-knit group of friends: their bestie and bandmate, Nia Wilson, was gruesomely murdered on the platform at MacArthur BART station. Some media reports called it a random act of violence, but for many Oaklanders, the murder felt like yet another attack on young, black lives amid our country's racially fraught climate.
If tragedy is a test of character, then Girlz N The Hood's album All 4 Nia demonstrates the tremendous resilience and grace of Nia's girl squad. Comprised of Nia's sister Shi (Tashiya Wilson, who witnessed the attack) and friends Mylly, Shotta and Ty, Girlz N The Hood channel their vitriol and sadness into a fiery project with the distinct knock and funky bass of Bay Area mob music. (Parts Unknown, who produced SOB x RBE's breakout hits, has credits on the project.)
With uptempo beats and tough-talking bars, the girls wrangle a fierce determination to make the most of life in Nia's honor. Touchingly, the project features Nia herself. The laidback, G-funk "Run Yo Mouth," a diss track by Nia and Shi about a rival girl gang, initially brought Girlz N The Hood together. The music video shows Nia, a camera-shy 18-year-old, following her older sister's lead, goofing around while trying to look tough in the studio. Hearing the song, one can't help but imagine what Nia could've become had she been allowed to blossom as a woman and artist.
In an interview with Ruth Gebreyesus in The Fader, the girls described Nia as a loyal friend, blunt truth-teller and eternal optimist. Mylly's nickname for her was "Turnt Cuz" for her ability to smile and keep it pushing no matter what she was going through. Nia's personality, sweet yet unafraid to stand up for herself, inspired the girls to grit their teeth and turn up for their friend through the hurt.
On the wistful closing track, "All 4 Nia," Ty sums it up best: "It's kind of crazy how you gone, you was a real one / You my dawg, you gon' always shine in peace / Never folded on a n-gga, always ready for the beef."