Introducing the Brodies and their unique style—R&Bay. This island-influenced Bay Area supergroup includes Oakland’s Adrian Marcel and Vallejo’s CRSB, a.k.a. Chris Ramos and Sonny B. These fellas will take the stage and vibe with JBoog for San Jose’s Music in the Park this weekend, and at the UC Theatre in Berkeley on Nov. 3, groove rockin’ in a new way.
R&Bay is the new wave of R&B the Brodies are planning to release in waves. Without labeling themselves as one style or genre, Marcel, Ramos and B. are building a repertoire of multi-faceted Bay Area-exclusive music. Influenced by their shared familial experiences and roots in Hawaii, the three blend together roots-rock-island-reggae with the Bay Area’s hyphy scene and hip-hop to make their signature sound. Starting this weekend with an expected new release, the rise of R&Bay begins.
“We’re expecting a party, baby,” Ramos said. “We’re starting this very, very, very big movement. And you’re catching us kind of at the surface.”
With an expected capacity between 2,000 to 5,000 people, the fellas are ready to turn up at Music in the Park. This music is meant to show love, grooves and good vibes. But they’re not going to give the new goods away all at once.
While they met only recently, during the pandemic at a chance encounter in an East Bay studio, the three artists have compiled a secret stash of 100 unreleased tracks over the last two years. They plan an upcoming tiered release of those songs throughout the rest of the year.
“Piece by piece, rather than just trying to give this all to you in a big package,” Marcel said. “The sound is so different. It’s so new that I think that it’s really all about how they see it and how they feel it, just as much as how they hear it.”
The three grew up listening to island music and visiting family in Hawaii, as well as singing and performing—B. had a special fascination with the ukulele. And they grew up with a blend of island music and hyphy hip-hop like E-40, Too$hort, Mac Dre and the rest of the late ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s Bay Area rap. The three went on tour with artists such as JBoog, Common Kings and Kolohe Kai in the early 2000s.
“Me and cuz, [Sonny B.] we’re trying to build this bridge where people who looked like us could exist in this world,” Ramos said.
Now, they have strong-armed some space for themselves in the music scene, garnering millions of streams on their older tracks, with a heavy market in San Jose, the East Bay and Hawaii. They recently collaborated with McDonald’s on an ad campaign released throughout the Bay Area—a testament to their growing fanbase and increased influence.
“We been in every type of situation for people to celebrate love,” B. said. This includes featuring their songs in weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other celebrations. Now that they will again share the big stage at Music in the Park, they are ready to bring a new style with them.
This new music includes upcoming releases with heavy hitters. Though they are shy to admit who else will be on their tracks, they hint at more collaboration with E-40 and other Bay Area artists. Recently, the group released Adrian Marcel’s “Bip City,” a laid-back groove track about mackin’ and bein’ so fly as to steal someone’s girl, featuring E-40 and produced by B.
Another recent Marcel release, “Wait,” featuring CRSB, timestamps the beginning of the R&Bay era, a slow-jammed Bay Area love song with all three represented on the track.
The three note a rise in appreciation throughout the U.S. for island music and culture, especially with the recent devastating fires in the town of Lahaina on Maui. Ramos and B.’s ’ohana live on Maui and are reeling with the rest of the island community trying to make sense of a way forward. All three have ties to the islands and this influences their ear when they make songs.
“When something bad happens, we feel it as a people,” Ramos said.
This style of music isn’t just about goin’ stupid and gettin’ faded. All three artists have a knack for tapping into deep emotions and feelings of serious gravity. This kind of music is meant to be a reprise from the standard hyphy sound, while still respecting its influence on the era Marcel, Ramos and B. grew up in.
B. said that over the years, the Bay Area especially has embraced more inclusion of Polynesian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander art and artists. A few years ago, Marcel interviewed on Sway in the Morning, a hip-hop podcast and radio show with a cult following. And earlier this month the two performed for thousands at Holo Holo Festican in Wheatland, revealing major increased interest in Polynesian culture in Northern California, B. said.
“When we first started, there weren’t many festivals doing that,” B. said. “You’d have to go outside of California to experience that kind of festival.”
But the Brodies are looking to be a part of that greater change. And when B. and Marcel first met two years ago, they demanded that they and Ramos be at the forefront of that.
“This was ordained,” Marcel said. “This was something that was bound to happen, whether or not people were ready for it or wanted it or tried to keep it from happening.”
CRSB & Adrian Marcel: HOMEGROWN 6 play at the UC Theatre Nov. 3 at 8pm. The UC Theatre, 2036 University Ave., Berkeley. 510.356.4000. www.theuctheatre.org