The music was Bay Area hip-hop, but the cause was Haiti on Thursday night during a benefit concert for the earthquake-stricken nation.
A roster of well-known acts — Too Short, E-40, the Kev Choice Ensemble and Lenny Williams — took to the stage of Sweet's Ballroom in downtown Oakland to raise money for victims of the magnitude 7.0 temblor that devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince and outlying areas.
"There's so many musicians. It makes me feel good to see the community come together in solidarity and stay focused," said D'Wayne Wiggins, of rhythm-and-blues group Tony! Toni! Toné!, shortly before the concert.
Wiggins said he organized the benefit less than two weeks after the earthquake with the support of Bay Area musicians, promoters and Oakland city officials.
"Haiti has experienced a level of tragedy few of us can imagine," Mayor Ron Dellums said Thursday. "The level of poverty in Haiti would break your heart. Haiti can no longer be ignored."
Thursday's concert was the first installment of what Wiggins said would be an ongoing series of events organized to raise $100,000 for earthquake relief called the House Party Tour of Relief.
"$100,000 is the goal, but we can exceed that," Wiggins said before performers took to the stage.
The musicians were a draw for the $20 tickets, and audience member Teuna Gremillion said she appreciated having a local Bay Area avenue to contribute to the relief.
The money will go to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. "We're not just throwing (the money) out there," Wiggins said.
"People are still not getting aid," said the chairman of the fund, Walter Riley, who was in Haiti when the earthquake struck Jan. 12.
He said the organization is focusing on making sure the government of Haiti is held accountable for the millions of aid dollars pledged so far.
Meanwhile, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund is working with aid organizations such as the Aristide Foundation, Shoulder-to-Shoulder, as well as directly with clinics, schools and farmers.
"The need is for Haitians to be involved in a grass-roots effort to rebuild," Riley said.
His son, Raymond "Boots" Riley, is a member of hip-hop duo The Coup.
Fellow member, DJ Pam the Funkstress, was on hand Thursday to perform as a disc jockey. She said she accepted Wiggins' invitation because she wanted to help the victims.
"It's a very serious situation," she said.
"You got a country under a disaster," said Haitian performer King Wawa on Thursday night.
He lives in Oakland, but his family in Port-au-Prince is still homeless 17 days later.
He is now trying to organize a tour to raise awareness of the needs of Haitians.
One of those needs is for aid to be distributed to the areas surrounding Port-au-Prince.
"It's tough. It's really tough," he said.