Riding the Sound Wave 

How Al Lucchesi built the biggest incubator in Bay Area music.

Page 5 of 5

"When it first opened it wasn't an experiment, but Al was still trying to figure out 'What I'm gonna let go down, and what ain't gonna go down,'" said G-Wiz, a hip-hop producer who rents space at Soundwave. Hanging out in the studio's second-floor office that Wednesday, he and Lucchesi dredge up a history that parallels the development of Oakland's music scene over the last three decades. In the early '90s, Jackson Street saw a renaissance of new jack swing and metal. Decades later, the new Soundwave Studios would become a focal point in the era of Mac Dre and hyphy. Then it became a harbinger of new development in West Oakland. After opening the 21st Street studio, Lucchesi joined the board of the West Oakland Commerce Association. He watched the neighborhood turn around as refugees from the San Francisco arts scene began moving in and new businesses began popping up — Soundwave now counts the newly renovated Noodle Factory and popular restaurant Brown Sugar Kitchen among its neighbors.

"I had to impose some Italian order in West Oakland, here," said Lucchesi, who thinks he's pretty much got the place under control.

Since moving to 21st Street, Lucchesi has logged two dead bodies and two confirmed conceptions at Soundwave. He thinks they balance each other out.

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