Just like 50 Cent, we ain't gonna lie — Club Red/Red Owl is the go-to venue for hip-hop in the Valley. Fact. Not only for the sheer number of shows it hosts, but also the wide diversity of gifted lyricists and rhyme-spitters slinging game from its mics and stages. The double-sided Tempe club has had live hip-hop on lock in recent years, whether it's intimate performances with underground MCs like Busdriver, showcases loaded with burgeoning local rappers, or gigs headlined by such superstars as E-40 and Talib Kweli.
And one of the reasons promoters, performers, and headz keep coming back to the club — besides its versatility and ace sound system — is booker Mattx Bentley. The affable 36-year-old former promoter, who also manages The Insects and runs Valley label 1090 Records, is well versed in hip-hop and respected in the scene. He's also connected with promoters — ranging from Sean Healy Presents and Universatile Music — and such hip-hop stars as Jean Gray and Pharoahe Monch, both of whom Bentley's brought to the club, sometimes literally. He has had to play chauffeur for artists, and that's led to a few interesting experiences, like when he had to wander around Sky Harbor last year while picking up Phife Dawg. "His cell battery died, so I had to walk in and look around the crowd for this short guy who has repped himself as 'The Five Footer,'" Bentley says. "That was odd." Hey, whatever it takes to ensure another memorable night of hip-hop at Club Red.