We ain't gonna lie: When Justus Samuel first announced the Arizona Hip Hop Festival back in 2014, we thought he was nuts. Or suffering from delusions of grandeur. Or both. Bringing together close to 100 artists (and their egos) from Phoenix's fractured and often-contentious scene for an enormous one-day showcase? It seemed destined to implode under the sheer weight of Samuel's ambition. We were wrong. Save for some logistical snafus, the inaugural festival was a resounding success. Six years later, it's still going strong, helping to develop local talents, foster a sense of community, and put Arizona hip-hop on the map. That's been Samuel's M.O. for more than a decade with his record label and promotions company Respect the Underground, which showcases rappers through regular gigs and lands them airplay on online platforms like iKON Radio. He's even adapted to the COVID-19 crisis, using livestreams and virtual concerts to get RTU's music to the public — whatever it takes for Arizona's hip-hop godfather and biggest booster to continue repping this fine state.

Best Hidden Commune of Creepy Dolls

Hanny's

Hanny's
Lauren Cusimano

Walk down the stairs at Hanny's and into the basement, and you'll encounter a strange sight behind a chain link fence: more than 14 dolls positioned around a large table covered in coins. The dolls, posed as if participating in a game, are in varying stages of decay, and they emanate a creepy, corpse-like aesthetic. Hanny's owner, Karl Kopp, originally meant the display to be a temporary art installation after the historical clothing store building reopened as a restaurant in 2008, but it's become such a source of abject fascination that the assembly of dolls is now permanent. The doll display isn't the only weird art on exhibit at Hanny's — to get downstairs to them, you'll have to pass a bizarre, beaded humanoid sculpture with baby doll faces embedded in its butt cheeks.

Casey Moore's Oyster House
Tom Carlson

Casey Moore’s vast selection of high-end hooch bottles aren’t the only spirits lurking about the historic Tempe bar. As legend has it, the place is haunted by the ghosts of William and Mary Moeur, the couple who built the circa-1910 property and shuffled off the mortal coil in 1929 and 1943, respectively. Ask the staff, and they’ll spin yarns about supernatural shenanigans like food being snatched off plates, mysteriously tugged neckties, and pictures falling off the walls. Some swear they’ve seen the Moeurs dancing in front of an upstairs window. You might even hear about sightings of a young co-ed who was strangled by her boyfriend back when the building was a boarding house. Truth be told, no one’s ever produced any evidence these ghosts exist, not even a group of paranormal investigators who examined every nook and cranny in 2016. Have enough pints of Casey’s beer of the day, though, and who’s to say you won’t catch a glimpse of some of these resident specters.

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