A Different Part of Town, A Different Kind of Freak

Unlike some people in the small, rural town where I grew up, I didn’t think of San Francisco as a scary, dangerous place. But my exposure to SF was primarily from visiting my mom’s family, usually staying with my grandparents’ at their house on 10th Avenue.

So when I first heard Rappin 4-Tay’s single, “Playaz Club” in college, I was surprised at how SF was portrayed. It seemed almost comical to me to hear terms I associated with Southern California’s gang culture — gats and glocks, hoes and homies — with references to San Francisco, like Army Street and the ‘Fillmoe’.

Fillmoe, H.P., and Sunnydale
There’s a playaz club everywhere you dwell
Lakeview, P.H., and Army Street
A different part of town, a different kind of freak

While most rap in the 90s mentioned places like Compton or Watts, “Playaz Club” also gave shout outs to places like Bakersfield and Sacramento — areas that I didn’t even think were urban. I thought they were farm towns.

Even though I hadn’t seen the “Playaz Club” side of San Francisco myself, when I moved to the City after college, I considered the song a handy guide to areas I should avoid: Fillmoe (Fillmore), H.P. (Hunters Point), and P.H. (Potrero Hill). I took note of the one specific intersection mentioned toward the end of the song: “Third and Newcomb right in the heart of H.P.”

You can learn a whole lot from a playa

The song had a lasting effect on me. Even after 10 years in SF, I still bypass many of the places mentioned in “Playaz Club”. Of course, I realized that there are good and not-so-good areas of Potrero Hill and Fillmore, but I assumed everyone avoided Hunters Point.

At least that’s what I thought up until last summer when I went to hear the founders of Quesada Gardens speak. At the talk, the speakers asked for a show of hands: how many people had been to Hunters Point? To my astonishment, most of the hands in the room went up. I know it sounds hopelessly naive, but from “Playaz Club”, I didn’t think you could actually go to “to the heart of H.P.” and live to tell about it.

A lot of people get a misconception
Start driftin in the wrong direction

It’s only in these last few years that I’ve gone anywhere remotely close to Hunters Point. (Although I know so little about this area that I’m not sure exactly where Bayview ends and Hunters Point begins.)

I first went to Dogpatch, a tiny neighborhood mixed into the mostly abandoned industrial buildings along the Bay and within view of the Potrero Hill housing projects up on the hill. Then I went a little deeper down Third Street to (the very not-ghetto) Flora Grubb Gardens and to Building REsources, where I saw took the picture above. (If you click on the picture, you can actually read the graffiti at the top of the building, which says, in a very “Playaz Club” kind of way, Friskoes’ Nuts).

This side of town offers an undoubtedly different view of SF than you get from the Painted Ladies, but from what I’ve seen so far, it also doesn’t look straight out of ‘Boyz N the Hood’ or a rap video.

Man on the corner of Third and Newcomb right in the heart of H.P.!

Mr. WholeHog recently told me that on his way to pick up mulch for our little garden, he went by the infamous intersection of Third and Newcomb. “It’s not the heart of H.P.”, he told me, knowing immediately that my mind would automatically refer back to “Playaz Club”. He said it was pretty non-descript.

It’s possible, of course. For all I know, Third and Newcomb is now considered Bayview, not Hunters Point, and a lot has changed in the 15 years since “Playaz Club” was released. But despite Mr. WholeHog’s eye-witness account, there’s a part of me that still trusts Mr. 4-Tay.

Stick to the script don’t slip in the nine-fo

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One Response to “A Different Part of Town, A Different Kind of Freak”

  1. Heart of H.P. « Whole Hog Says:

    […] Whole Hog I Came to the City and It Changed My Life « A Different Part of Town, A Different Kind of Freak […]

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