Those changes have instigated yet another Brothers Grimm makeover. The last tape we sampled of the Brothers G came on like one big dose of psychedelic jazz. Of particular note was "What R U Sayin," sort of like a retooled Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine over a bed of ethereal flutes and percussion. According to DLB, "We've gotten away from the alternative House of Pain/Cypress Hill sound and we're more straight back East hip-hop now. And we dropped one of our members, the other white guy."

DLB has learned that, as far as record labels go, you've got to be able to hit somebody with a 12-inch that's going to be able to be pushed to radio right off the bat and do well in all the urban clubs and markets. In the meantime, a 12-inch DLB recorded before the Le Face deal will be out in the record pools very shortly, as will DLB's production work for J.C. (a.k.a. Styles and Jiz, Southside Boys), another local artist inking a deal with Le Face. It's a safe bet that Phoenix's future in the hip-hop marketplace is looking decidedly Grimm.--Serene Dominic

Know Qwestion
P-Body spins the beats, Cappuccino and Cash flow the lyrics. And Know Qwestion as a whole goes coast to coast to try to bring Phoenix a hip-hop flava to call its own.

Like East Coast rappers, this trio trains the spotlight firmly on the lyrics, which are damn fine. Cappuccino is true to his name--smooth but with a kick just when you need it. He's the better of the two KQ rappers live, but Cash wields the sharper pen, dropping clever pop-culture references and incisive rhymes like a B-52 carpet bomber.

The similarity to East Coast rap ends there, however. Because in place of that school of hip-hop's stripped-down, boom-bap sound, P-Body favors lush, melodic instrumental tracks and deeper beats. The deejay also plays live bass on all of his cuts. "We're very street, but we're not gangsta," he says. "We steer clear of all trademarks except our own."--David Holthouse

The Weirdoz
You can say this much for the Weirdoz: They don't lack confidence. "We ain't limited by nothing or nobody," says Weirdoz beat master Cipher. "We're tighter than any group that has come up here, and any group that has come up here came up behind us. They have their own style, but we're on the top and they just follow us. And they know that, too."

Weirdoz rappers J-Boogie and Butter Fingaz write all their lyrics individually, then blend them together for a continuous flow. "We don't do any of that political or socially relevant rap," says J-Boogie. "We just want to get up there and show off our skills." The Weirdoz are easily the most hard-core hip-hop group in Phoenix, and Cipher says his taste in beats and lyrics runs straight toward that old gangsta shit. "I like the Dogg Pound, yeah, but not the Fugees. We like Snoop and 2-Pac [Shakur]. That's what we're into. We like to really blow it up."--David Holthouse

Best Reggae
Grant Man and
Island Beat

Grant Man is one of the few people in Arizona able to convincingly end a conversation with "You have a beautiful day, mon. Jah Rastafari!" Man's sincere exuberance carries over into his rootsy reggae music, making it sound borne of the islands rather than Scottsdale.

Warm, uplifting and soulful, Grant Man and Island Beat is the Valley's most legitimate straight reggae act, even though Terry Slew, the quintet's bassist, is the only bona fide Rastafarian (Man was raised in Liberia, Africa).

One of this band's best qualities is its ability to vocally harmonize over bright, highly textured orchestrations. This interplay is particularly evident on "The System Is Poison," a call to resist the moral bankruptcy of Babylon. Several of the band's other songs recall the soft sensuality of Jamaican crooner Gregory Isaacs, or Bob Marley in a lighter mood.

Playing under the motto "Let love be at the forefront of all," Island Beat comes off as inspirational but not hokey, blending a roots earnestness with traces of modern R&B/funk for positive, exotic vibe.--Matt Golosinski

Rastafarmers
The Rastafarmers call their melange of reggae, blues and funk "Desert Rat Reggae." The band prefers festivals and community events to the club circuit, and is wildly popular on several of Arizona's Indian reservations. The Rastafarmers also frequently volunteer their time for causes like Youth at Risk, where they teach children the musical rudiments in a massive jam session.

The 'farmers have a formidable rhythm section in percussionist Ernesto Mansanedo and bass player Keith Jennings--whose low-end excursions pack a visceral wallop and clearly serve as the band's foundation. But it's the newest Rastafarmer, Ben Molina, who brings the most surprising ingredient to the mix with his harmonica. Reggae harp? Hell, why not? Another player to look for is Erick Stevens. At six-foot-seven with blond dreads, the guitarist known as "Big Yella" should be hard to miss.--Matt Golosinski

Walt Richardson and Morning Star
Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Walt Richardson has assembled a talented quintet that serves an effervescent blend of African, Latin and Caribbean music, tinged with American pop rock.

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