The music scene doesn't happen on its own. What we see on the surface is the result of passionate people behind the scenes, writing, creating, organizing, promoting, and working tirelessly to bring music to the venues, bars, and houses of Metro Phoenix. We will look at 25 here, some familiar, some new . Be sure to check out our 100 Tastemakers and 100 Creatives as well.
Phoenix rapper Tikey Patterson thinks something rotten is sweeping through his neighborhood.
Born and raised in Central City South, the neighborhood south of downtown around 15th Avenue and Buckeye Road known in the streets as West Side City, the 32-year-old Patterson, who raps under the name Trap House, has witnessed an explosion of gun violence this year, taking the lives of friends and family members. And he wants to put and end to it, and he's using his music to try to make an impact.
Patterson has experience on the dark side of these neighborhoods, though he's not explicit about his previous involvement, saying that "When I was younger, [drug dealing] was something that had my attention. Once I realized there's only two ways that could turn out, I decided to walk a different direction." His music, including his recently released album, Mr. Perfect, reflects this, telling his story growing up in a rough part of the city.
Patterson's attention is now elsewhere, and he spends his time these days trying to convince other people to leave the streets behind as well. In May, he organized an event to bring awareness to gun violence in South Phoenix that featured live music, anti-gang speakers, and community organizers.
A week later, Patterson's brother was shot in the face.
"Unfortunately, [gun violence] has gotten worse as of recent," Patterson says. "This is the reality I live in, and I remain optimistic that change is around the corner."
His brother is still recovering, up walking and talking. But last week, Patterson's cousin died from a gunshot wound.
These events haven't deterred Patterson; in fact, it's quite the opposite. They've hardened his resolve to try and make things better. This weekend he's performing at an event in Hermosa Park (2030 East Southern Road) that's part of a nonviolence initiative. Patterson says his experience gives him credibility and access to get into neighborhoods and spaces where he can directly help those still involved.
"My music is why the streets vibe with me and welcome me into the communities that need help," he says. "I never assume that I can just walk anywhere, so I embrace the street culture and they embrace me back. Day by day, we are raising the level of positive focus."
And if you start to wonder why an anti-gun violence community organizer goes by the name Trap House, Patterson says the name isn't actually drug-related. It was given to him after friends saw his hustle and hard work starting to pay off. "Trapping" is a term used to describe the work of selling drugs, and people would joke with Patterson that he was always "trapping," which led to the nickname.
On the music side, Patterson is also the creator of the Black Family, a hip-hop collective in Phoenix that focuses on showing that success in hip-hop isn't a zero-sum game, and that rappers are stronger unified than fighting one another. "Hate is for the weak" is the Black Family's slogan, and in the two years since the collective's first show, the phrase has started to pop up more and more in online conversations about local hip-hop.
Patterson sees his activism and his music as deeply connected.
"I would consider myself a servant of the community," he says. "Yes, I'm a rapper, but more importantly, I speak for those that may not have a strong enough voice for the things that need to be said on their behalf."
Patterson shared his thoughts on the local music scene with New Times.
What makes a good song? I believe that a song should come from a real place. It should come from your heart and soul. A good song should consist of real things from your actual life; even if you only play a small or insignificant role, it should still come from you.
How would you describe your music to a stranger?
I would describe my music as a dose of reality with rhythm. It's real, but it can be fun and full of energy. Expect to hear the truth when you listen to my music.
Who do you admire most in the music scene? The person I admire most on the music scene is a local star by the name of JRob The Chief. From the first time he handed me a CD, I've watched him grow to be a force on the scene. What I love about him is the level of diplomacy he carries; it reminds me a lot of my start with music, and I tend to resonate with those types of people.
How has the music scene changed in the past five years? I think that we have had a huge surge of independent artists that finally understand that you don't need a label to get national and global attention. Since that has happened, we have gotten more spotlight than ever, and it's helped artists land some pretty impressive endorsements from celebrities and companies that weren't there in the past.
What's the best concert you've ever seen in Phoenix? I saw 50 Cent live and it was amazing. I could relate to his story, and he was very entertaining.
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What's your favorite venue, living or dead, in the Valley? My favorite venue is Talking Stick Arena. It's the only venue I've yet to perform in locally.