Zion I Tackles Gentrification in the Bay Area With "Tech $"

Zion I Tackles Gentrification in the Bay Area With "Tech $"


Thousands of highly paid professionals have swarmed to the Bay Area to cash in on the latest tech boom. And, it’s not surprising either. These changes have resulted in a lot of money and a lot of jobs in cities like Oakland; however, not everyone in the area is benefiting from the shift—particularly the lower-income residents who’ve been bearing the brunt of gentrification.

In 2015, Oakland-based hip hop duo Zion I released a song about this very issue. The Mikos Da Gawd-produced track “Tech $” addressed the Bay’s changing landscape and how many families have been forced out of the area due to skyrocketing housing prices. It’s an issue that Zion I’s Baba Zumbi has experienced this first-hand.

According to MarketWatch, the rapper had no choice but to move his family—a wife, two sons, and another child on the way—out of their Oakland home after their landlord decided to sell the property. He said he had hoped to stay in the city and rent another house; however, most of the rentals were going for more than $4,000. So he and his family packed up their belongings and moved to the neighboring town of San Leandro.

“I wrote this song as a reaction to my experience of all of a sudden being introduced to this gentrification thing in the city I love,” Zumbi told MarketWatch. “I’m reacting to it based on my experience and my emotions of seeing something I love about to change and wither away in a way that I don’t think is necessarily healthy.”

To really highlight Zumbi’s point and concerns, Zion I released a music video for “Tech $” last week; it shows the rapper inside his old Oakland home while his family is packing for their move.

“Got pushed out, this ain’t your house/ Third-generation came from down south,” he raps. “Now I got these mummies all in my mouth/ Throwing tech money trying to get me out.”

Check out the “Tech $” video above.