Lo-Fiction Chases That Bag Through East Oakland

I've always felt like chasing the bag is an endless pursuit. And evidently, I’m not alone.

Oakland hip-hop collective Lo-Fiction's new video, "Nike Check," illustrates the permanent pursuit of the purse. As a canvas bag of money floats through the streets, the group's seven members race after it, always out of reach. It's simple and effective, and the best part: it didn’t cost them too much to make.

“We got a sack, some string from my grandma’s sewing kit, and tied it to my girlfriend's car,” Nimsins, one of the group’s MCs, told me during a phone call. “We just wanted to make it realistic, and do what we normally do.”

Maybe that’s what caught my eye—it’s kind of normal. It also looks like it was fun to make. As Nimsins said, “We put the filmmaker in the trunk, and we made it work.”

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Eric Bui, the filmmaker in the trunk, is originally from Tracy. He’s lived in Oakland for about four years, during which he’s worked with Nimsins on a couple of videos.

“I’m happy they came up this idea,” Bui told me during a phone call. “It’s a reality, especially within the music industry—and they’re making light of it. They’re making fun of it while doing it: literally chasing the bag.”

Due to having so many takes, the video was a workout for Lo-Fiction, who ran on and off for several hours. Bui, at 25 years old, is just a bit older than the Lo-Fiction crew—the members are all in their early 20s—but he's appreciated seeing their growth.

“Shout out and respect to those kids,” Bui tells me. “I respect their craft, their sound and their whole aesthetic," noting that their sampling, beats and structure as a collective are reminiscent of another East Oakland group—Hieroglyphics.

The bag we all chase. (Screen grab from the Nike Check video)
The bag we all chase. (Screen grab from the Nike Check video)

Along with Nimsins, the group consists of Keese Sama, SemCity Chris, Esosa, Jafari, Giahni, and Jamal. About a year ago they released a cassette mixtape, Lo-Fiction and Friends Vol. 1, and last month they sidestepped conventional nightclubs for a show at Berkeley punk warehouse 924 Gilman. All of them grew up together, mostly in East Oakland’s Seminary neighborhood; Sem-City, as some call it.

“Every time we shoot videos, we just see people we know, and people just jump in the video,” Nimsins said. “Something about East Oakland, people don’t do a lot of filming out here. People were just jumping in, and driving the cars behind us. Little kids even got in it!”

Before he got off the phone, Nimsins told me that although the video has a relatively low view count thus far, the support from friends and family has been great.

The way I see it, it has the potential to go a lot further—because while the video is hella local, the concept is truly universal.

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