OAKLAND (CBS SF) — As one of the hottest rental markets in the Bay Area, Oakland has its share of stories of residents getting priced out after having lived in the city for decades. Now those stories include a well-known East Bay rapper who recently channeled his frustration into a new song and video.

Tech money pushed rapper MC Zumbi –also known as Steven Gaines of the hip-hop group Zion I — and his family straight out of Oakland. They got forced out by gentrification.

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So Gaines put his story to music with the song “Tech $” and its accompanying video.

The tech boom in the Bay Area has led to well-documented struggles across the Bay Area as the housing markets in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose have skyrocketed in recent years.

Now the struggle that has led so many people to move out of the region is also inspiring art.

“All I want to do is make sense/Love my city/But the gentries got it real tense,” he raps in the clip.

The “gentries,” he raps, are those invading Oakland to buy houses out from under residents renting in the suddenly lucrative, high-end housing market.

“Basically I wrote this song out of frustration. As an emotional reaction to what I was experiencing,” explained Gaines.


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“I’m out here right now, moving my family, on the spur of the moment,” the rapper is heard saying at one point in the video.

He shot his move from a place he, his wife, and son had lived in Oakland before being forced out when the landlord sold the place. Things had changed from his previous real estate experiences.

Gaines’ family life mirrored what a lot of Bay Area residents went through in the past decade. He bought a nice house in West Oakland in 2007 that was top of the market.

Then the market crashed. He eventually he sold the home for 35 per cent of what he paid for it at a short sale.

“I was flabbergasted with the price jumps,” said Gaines. “And I was like, ‘Why was everything so expensive?'”

Average monthly rents in Oakland are up 30 percent in a year. It now costs close to $3,000 dollars a month for an average single family home.

“My intent was to stimulate conversation. And I think I’m doing that,” said Gaines.

CBS San Francisco spoke to Gaines as he prepared to take his show on the road as he tours to help promote his upcoming album Labyrinth that is scheduled for release in September.

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When he comes back he’ll be going home to a new house he and his family are renting in San Leandro.