Say Aye Aye for the Bay With Oakland Rapper Capolow

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Capolow shows off his chain as he stands in front of the Cow Palace in Daly City.
Rapper Capolow (@lincolnlook)

East Oakland's Capolow is a rapper on the rise.

Known for his high-energy anthem songs and his catchy "aye-aye!" ad lib, Capolow's music is ringing bells in the Bay Area and beyond. He made an album called "Oakland Nights" with Kamaiyah, and has made tracks with E-40, ALLBLACK, and Nef The Pharaoh.

But before he was a rapper – ten years ago – Capolow was one of the students in my class at Oakland Tech.

He was one of 20 students, all African American men. The class was all about brotherhood and developing the critical thinking they'd need as young Black men in America. It was part of Oakland Unified School District's African American Male Achievement Department (now called the Office of Equity).

Since then, my former student Capolow has seen some highs and lows. The once fresh faced kid who rocked a high-top fade and loved dancing is now covered in tattoos, has spent time incarcerated, and is scheduled to perform at Rolling Loud later this year.

Between his popular uplifting party anthems, Capolow has some tracks that cut deep; that duality is just part of being a Black man in America.

In this episode of Rightnowish, I'm checking in with Capolow on his journey and his music.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.