With a musical love letter to his rapidly changing hometown, Oakland's favorite sideman takes center stage
"When people talk about Oakland as the new, hip place to be — it's always been that," he says. "Aside from LA, Oakland is the cultural center of the West Coast. There is so much art here. The music, the history, the politics...but when you start seeing Oakland on lists of top destination spots, why are they saying that? Because there's a certain amount of five-star restaurants now, or cool little hipster bars?" he says, in the few minutes before he has to leave to head toward Uptown, into the heart of them. "That's starting to get away from the essence of what Oakland really is, which is about the people."
"At the same time, there are people within 20-mile radius of us right now who are literally scared to come here. 'Oh, they'll shoot you over there, they'll rob you.' Look, there is a possibility that will happen," he says. "There's also a very real possibility that you'll meet a very intellectual person and have a great conversation, or go to a club and hear some great music, or walk up the street and see people doing capoeira, doing some crazy, creative shit.
"People block out what Oakland is because of their perception, and perception is everything. If you never spend time here, believe me — it's something entirely different from what you'd expect."