Koran Streets: From Lower Bottom Playaz to Rolling Stone and Billboard


(U.Know.I.Got.It Cover Art)

Everybody knows an overnight success is the result of years of work if you are unsure ask Berkeley rapper Koran Streets. Koran has been acting since he was 9. He started out with Oakland's Lower Bottom Playaz doing Shakespearean adaptations. He is in fact, one of the only two actors in the world to have done the August Wilson Century Cycle, (appearing in all ten plays) in chronological order. He gained some visibility in the independent film, LICKS, produced in the Bay Area.  LICKS, a coming of age film, placed in South By South West and was awarded Best Film, and Streets was named best  Supporting Actor at the Chelsea film festival in 2013. He followed that up with a part in Kicks a nationally distributed film. Reliable sources indicate that he is in current talks about a new movie role. But music has always been Street's first love.

In his middle school years he was one of the founding members of a group called Turf Starz that created a hot young sound with a lot of promise. From there he started working independently and released a number of Mix Tapes all similarly titled, "U. Know. I. Got. It", Volumes I-III. The latest rendition,  U. Know. I. Got.,  It. is his first full length  album, released in late 2016,  the joint is a strong freshman statement  that's making national noise. His lyrics come from the Bay Area streets he grew up on, and strike an honest cord in listeners and music critics. The production of the album is sonically dope, and his easy straight forward flow is a welcome addition to today's music scene. The video production that accompanies the work, produced and directed by Streets along with videographer Luis Montoya, indicate a film makers eye, offer up some incredible visuals from the Bay Areas inner city, and speaks to Streets ambitions to be recognized as a world class artist.

While he is often recognized on the streets and associated with one of his projects, it's usually in response to a role he played on screen or on the stage. Sometimes it's a parent of a young person he mentored in his summers working at a free summer theater camp, (The Lower Bottom Playaz Summer Theater Day Camp in Oakland) where he passes on opportunity to youngsters who come to learn how to act on stage and in the world. One of his former students also landed a role in KICKS because of Street's mentor ship and advocacy. Streets is a person who has always made his way when no way seemed possible. Until very recently, he was a one man company on a mission, with the attitude, "All I need is for someone to push play". Someone did, and now they are listening, finding it compelling, fresh, and authentic. Streets is building his fan base and looking forward to new projects while he rides this rising wave of interest in his considerable talent. The work seems to be paying off for him and things are changing almost overnight.

These days it's the music he's being recognized for. From  Billboard to Rolling Stone who named his album as number 28 in a list of the top 40 albums of 2016. Recent articles across the hip hop blog sphere say he's a comer and a sound you want to discover. Hip Hop bloggers are calling and so are record labels. Streets, while taking all calls, seems in no hurry to tie himself to a label, and most interested in what this new attention will offer him in the way of opportunity to make the kind of music he makes, in the way he likes to make it. But that's a good problem to have. As he travels between the Bay, L.A. and New York he reflects on the amount of work it took to get this far and wonders if the doors will continue to open for him. So far it looks like a go.


2017 is looking like it might be a year for some long deserved visibility for the Bay Area rapper determined to make it in an industry that requires as much luck as talent to get a good foot hold. If talent and perseverance are the right tools then look for big things from Koran Streets, you know he got it.

Marvin X. Jackmon

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