Few artists in Phoenix mix consciousness and music with more elegance than poet/rapper/educator Myrlin Hepworth. His lineage as the son of an English professor shines in his music, which effortlessly jumps between race relations, feminism, sexism, police brutality, and violence.
He's now looking to take his show on the road. Having just raised $4,600 via Kickstarter (far exceeding his goal of $3,500), Hepworth and fellow Phoenix rapper Mic Maven plan to tour the western half of the country, performing Hepworth's album Eulogy and Blue, which the rapper rapper released earlier this year. Though this won't be the first time he's performed out of state, it will mark the first time he's embarked on an actual hip-hop tour.
One thing that he'll bring with him is his acute sense of social justice. No social issue goes un-discussed in Hepworth's music. Toxic masculinity in particular is an issue the rapper handles with aplomb. Hepworth's music isn't all political, though — it's often biographical, and he's unafraid to expose his dark side for his art. In his song "The Oh," a track that didn't make Eulogy and Blue, he starts rapping about a woman he's interested in and then proceeds to break down the way he's attracted to her and the social conditioning that has led him to regard her with a certain predatory mindset. "Men enter the world of sex built for conquest / Images project that getting lots of women is a sign of respect / locker room respect connects to the panties you collect / we accept the pretense that if you ain't got a hundred grand and a sexy woman / then you less of a man."
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The song goes on to break down harmful ways in which society treats both male and female sexuality, and Hepworth laments on the chorus, "I don't want to be a cold-ass lover." The lyrics imply that a problematic view of sexuality is the default, and that it takes conscious effort to achieve a higher, more equitable view of the world.
"You've seen that movie The Sandlot? You know that scene with the rich kids who roll up on their bikes? [The children start insulting each other.] ... The biggest insult is 'You play ball like a girl!' And that, right there, is indoctrinated in us as men. We're taught that we have to define ourselves against [women] … that being anything like them makes us less masculinity. Femininity is seen as a threat to masculinity."
Hepworth is looking to spread his message of enlightened men to people around the country. He and Mic Maven will set the mood for the tour tonight with a tour-launch gig at Crescent Ballroom. Special guest DJ Stanton will help send them off.