By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
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By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Now, y'all know P-town's bi-Kelly Monaco and I have both got us a sweet tooth or three, myself being partial to a pocketful of Abba-Zaba, and the Jettster having a thing for the eye candy of both sexes. So it's a mystery to me why we took so long to check out the sweetest Tuesday night in Scottsdale, Sugar at Next (www.nextscottsdale.com). Not only does this evening draw a large, stylish hip-hop crowd, it's also got Power 92.3's DJ Fashen spinning a slammin' set that packs the dance floor, makes the squalies bump their humps, and the ballers bounce along with them.
Fashen is one of the best-known wax-masters in town, due primarily to his work with those freaky knuckleheads Da Nutz on Power in the afternoons where Fashen's in charge of the "Drive at Five" mix. But Fashen has also rocked the after-party for the Soul Train Awards, is a member of the illustrious DJ crew the Heavy Hitters, and recently snagged a New Times Best of Phoenix award for Best Hip-Hop DJ. On the radio, you imagine the cat being a cross between Fat Joe and DJ Quik. The reality is he's the Marshall Mathers of PHX DJ-dom: a skinny white dude with a cherubic face who looks like he should be playing video games at Castles-n-Coasters. Appearances are deceiving, though. Because even if Fashen resembles a Real Worldcast member despite recently turning 34, he gets much love in the club.
Anyway, when the J-girl and I roll up in the spot, the first order of biz is coppin' some vodka-Red Bulls from the bar to the right of the dance floor, which is just starting to move and won't become fully crunktified until about midnight or so. Next has an upstairs, too, but all the action is downstairs tonight in a room that's kinda vaulted with brown roof beams, causing it to look like, I imagine, P. Diddy's Swiss chalet. (You know the playa must have one.) I'm only halfway through my drink, and already the Phoenix version of Da Brat is ordering herself a second round, with a snifter of Grand Marnier to boot!
"Easy, sport," I tell her. "Don't be mixing like that or you'll be doing your Courtney Love impersonation before it's over."
"Stuff it, Kreme," retorts the Jettster, sticking her tongue out. "I'm a big girl, and besides, I haven't had a drink all week."
"All week? It's only Tuesday, fool," I grumble. "Do what you want, but I ain't driving your inebriated fanny home. Or bailing you out when the bulls show you the inside of a drunk tank."
"You got one thing right, chubsy-ubsy," she spits. "You're not doing anythingwith my fanny, no matter how faded I get."
Since things are still beginning to build, we decide it's time to score an interview with Fashen before the party peoples are whippin' around like Hurricane Wilma in here. Over at the DJ booth, Fashen conversates with us the best he can as he's exchanging platters out of all these crates of LPs.
"Damn, Fashen," I state after we introduce ourselves. "How many LPs have you got?"
"I couldn't even put a number on it," he replies, looking like a big kid in his oversize Kanye West bear-logo tee. "I keep an air-conditioned storage unit that's all full of records. I go in there at least once a month, and I always find at least one crate of stuff I haven't played in a while."
"So what's the big diff between your radio set and club set?" I ask.
"On the radio, you're playing for the masses," explains Fashen. "When people are at work or in their car, they're not necessarily trying to hear the same songs that they're hearing in the club -- they want to hear ballads and a mixture of everything. In the club, it's all energy all night long."
"I love Da Nutz," offers Jett, licking her lips. "Uh, listening to them, I mean. What are they really like?"
"Great people -- actually, they're assholes," he goofs. "Don't print that, I'm playing! No, really, they're good people. Topnotch guys. I'm very proud to be on their show."
"Well, assholes arevery close to nuts," I observe.
"Hush, Kreme, no one wants to hear about that!" exclaims the J-unit, walking off in a huff.
Jeez, so sensitive. We leave Fashen to the wheels of steel, and almost immediately bump into Jimmy Harris and Garrett Robinson, the night's promoters. Robinson has sort of an Afrika Bambaataa/Eazy-E thing going on with black sunglasses and short dreads, and Harris is a little more on the Kanye side of the equation, in a preppy shirt with stripes. Robinson is from D.C., Harris from Chicago, and they're both students at ASU -- Robinson in business, Harris in marketing. They relate that Sugar has been up and running for going on three years now, and that Fashen joined the party about three or four months ago.
"This is more of an East Coast kind of a night," Harris tells us. "Nobody has to worry about it being a mixed crowd or a Scottsdale crowd. Everyone's cool. We like to think it's the truest hip-hop night in the Valley."