San Francisco Bay Area native, HBK Skipper, has a real love for the city that’s evident by the way he represents it through his music and how he talks about it. From the storied music culture to the city’s radio stations, as well as just being an overall student of music, his sound has been shaped from where he grew up. His latest album “Prezidential” just dropped earlier this month. Be sure to have a listen to “Right Time” featuring Iamsu! from the release embedded below.
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Dean Azriel: Kicking it off with the Bay Area, what really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the surrounding area?
HBK Skipper: There’s a couple of places I would recommend that are drastically different. For a more artsy, underground vibe go to the underground in downtown Oakland. If you’re into a more fast-paced, city-life feel it’s definitely downtown San Francisco. Berkeley is a good mixture of both, it’s where the city culture meets a more laid back feel. There’s lots of little shops and restaurants with good food. Roaming around you can stumble upon a lot of unique street art, and visit the farmers market for a fresh taste of the local foods and harvest. It’s pretty cool. They’re a lot of different flavors you can get into.
DA: Very cool, and sounds like the perfect place to get a good, wide-variety taste for food. Since were on the topic of food, one of my favorite topics to talk about, tell me about the food in the Bay Area. What are some of your favorite foods and eateries?
HBK: One of my favorite foods is sushi. I love sushi. I go to a place in Berkeley on Telegraph Avenue called Tako Sushi. They have the best and affordable sushi in the area. It has big portions, the food tastes really good and you get the most bang for your buck. If you like good fried seafood, you have to check out 938 Crawfish near Berkeley, as well. They have amazing lobster tail, fish and chips, crawfish and shrimp. Pizza is another one of my favorites, definitely check out a spot called Blondie’s in Berkeley. Actually, Blondie’s is a Bay Area chain, and they have some really good pizza.
DA: You can never go wrong with thick crust. Taking a little segue into you and music. What was your first real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career?
HBK: My first exposure to music was with my family. Every one in my family was musically talented in some way. As for the beginning of my career, I just jumped into it one day on a fluke. I was hanging out with all my friends at the time, the group, HBK Gang. They were all making music before me, where I started about six years ago. They’d ask me if I wanted to rap on a song and I’d jump in like, “Sure, why not?” I grew up listening to a lot of rap and hip-hop, at the time I was drawing inspiration from guys like Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Mase, 50 Cent and Juelz Santana.
So, we would throw parties at our friend’s houses all the time, big house and pool parties. We were just making music to play at the parties, and it blew up from there. It was when we got our first hit and it started playing on the radio, spreading past the Bay Area into national and international waves, that I thought, “I really had something here, I should pursue this.” I started taking it seriously, and have been on it ever since.
DA: To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
HBK: Definitely, changing places and exploring new environments is always good for music. I really enjoy the traveling. I grew up most of my life in the Bay Area. Being home most of the time staying stagnant gets boring. I really enjoy going out, experiencing new environments and seeing how I react. I really enjoy the traveling. I definitely love to go out and see different cultures. It definitely is inspiring, because it makes you want to work harder and see more.
DA: Yeah, you never know when inspiration is going to hit. Now, you just released your album “Prezidential” February 2nd. What was your overall vision or goal for this release? Describe your excitement to play it live for your fans.
HBK: I’m really excited. I worked really hard on this project for the past year. Just tried to really make everything right. I really wanted to make sure that the message that I’m trying to convey came across in the best of my ability. We also wanted to make the sound of it up to par with not only myself, but what’s going on currently in music. I wanted to have a well-rounded project. I personally felt like we did a really great job on it. The reception of it has been really positive as well. I’m glad people are receiving it the way I wanted to dish it out. As far as my excitement for the fans, that’s what I really do it for. They inspire me to keep going. They inspire me the most.
DA: Listening to music is essential when traveling, what radio station would you suggest people tune in to when in the Bay Area? Is it the one you grew up on?
HBK: I would definitely say, as far as hip-hop, to listen to 106 KMEL. They also play some good music on 99.7 NOW! You also have 102.9 KBLX, that’s more soft jams and R&B. But, 106 KMEL for sure. They play my music and I’ve been listening to them all my life.
DA: When you really want to get a minute to yourself, where do you head to in the city, or maybe around its outskirts?
HBK: It really depends on the mood. I’m more of an inside guy. I definitely like to go [in the city] on the weekends, but I’m kind of an inside person. The city is definitely fun. You can find anything and everything in San Francisco for sure. If you go anywhere near Broadway there’s a lot of nightlife over there. There’s a lot of nightclubs over there. They also have Sundays on 6th Street. There’s a big party they have on Sundays there. It’s pretty cool. The city is really a melting pot of everything.
DA: Really cool to hear. Do you go through periods where you like to switch up the genre that you’re mainly listening to? I find that switch between rock to hip-hop and electronic music pretty frequently.
HBK: Yes, I kind of just go with whatever mood I’m feeling. My musical taste is pretty eclectic. I listen to anything that’s good. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop, because I’m really in my album mode. I’m trying to really get a feel for what else is going on around music.
DA: Lastly, what do the next couple of months have in store for you?
HBK: Right now it’s really just all about pushing the project. We’re trying to get as many ears as possible on it. I’m also planning to drop another project really soon, probably in the next couple of months. This was my first project in two years. I’ve dropped singles here and there, but this is my first project in a while. Through that time I’ve been making a lot of music, so I want to follow this up with another.