Editor’s note: This story is part of That’s My Word, KQED’s year-long exploration of Bay Area hip-hop history, with new content dropping all throughout 2023.
The hyphy movement looms large in the Bay Area. Its trunk-rattling beats, high-energy dance moves and flamboyant fashion still sit at the core of local culture over a decade since its peak in the mid-2000s. But there’s a lot more to hyphy than going dumb. For a generation that came up in the aftermath of the crack epidemic and mass incarceration, the subculture’s wild expressions of joy also made room for catharsis, protest and liberation.
Laurence Madrigal’s feature documentary We Were Hyphy puts the movement in this larger social context. The director enlisted an expert team of executive producers: “I Gott Grapes” hitmaker Nump, Thizz Nation photographer D-Ray, Thizzler founder Matt Werner and Blindspotting’s Rafael Casal, all of whom except Werner appear as commentators in the film.