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zumbi oakland rapper

A Bay Area Rapper Was Priced Out of His Home

Here's how he used his music to fight back.

Zumbi is an Oakland artist who has traveled the world over the last 20 years as the lyrical half of Hip Hop group Zion I. Known for futuristic production and bringing attention to social issues, it’s no surprise that Zumbi turned his personal struggle into a political art piece with his “Tech $” music video.

In the video, we watch Zumbi and his family pack and move out of their home as he raps on the bed of the moving truck. “When I put out the video, I had no idea people would feel it so much,” he told MarketWatch.

I get so many comments about this happening in Austin, Texas, Portland, Seattle, New York, L.A. All these people are like, ‘Man, it’s happening in my city too.’

Zumbi and his family - a pregnant wife and two boys - were pushed out of their East Oakland home when the owner let them know he was selling the property. Forced back into an increasingly competitive rental market,  Zumbi experienced instant sticker shock as rents had suddenly jumped up thousands of dollars and open houses, “looked like barbeques.”

Many of these renters were new residents to the Bay Area brought to Oakland and the surrounding areas by the tech industry and they have been the catalyst for increasing rents. According to Trulia, affordable rentals have declined by almost 20% between April 2015 and April 2016 and in places like Orange County, Phoenix, and now Oakland, affordable rent is disappearing altogether.

It’s no wonder that Zumbi and his family were ultimately priced out of Oakland into neighboring San Leandro while still having to pay $500 more than they had previously.

“I’m not a rich man by any stretch, but I’m also not poor,” he said.

I feel like I’m blessed to be able to do my music and support my family and live a decent life, you know. I can only imagine people that are actually struggling economically dealing with this situation.

Want to read more about gentrification in The Bay? Find out what can happen "When Silicon Strikes."

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