It's been a mighty big year for hip-hop music in Arizona, most notably with the explosion of the locally-produced platinum hit "Mercy" by Kanye West. Producer and New F-Os member Lifted helped direct ears towards our corner of the map for his work on the massively popular track, but he hasn't been the only one putting in quality work in the Valley. Here's a look at some of our favorite hip-hop beats provided by Arizona's own.
Trap House, "Jhessye"
The city was rocked late last year when 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley went missing. Phoenix-based rapper Trap House responded to the disappearance with a tribute track condemning media coverage of the case in a release early this year. Trap pulls no punches in his denunciation saying, "We knew about Kim Kardashian/And how Dick Cheney's shooting was an accident/And how America's become so passionate/Except when it come to young, black Africans." It's a strong message aimed at a channel that continues to be under scrutiny for how it handles headlines.See also:
Futuristic, "La La La"
There's a certain kind of silliness to this tune by Tempe rapper Futuristic.
Dominated by a playful synth whirl, the self-described "goofy-ass dude" perfectly translates personality to melody with this AKT Aktion-produced song. "I need a Caucasian girl with a booty as big as Coco's," he says jokingly. One of 17 tracks off of the February release, Dream Big, Futuristic is clearly having fun while taking the title of his record very, very seriously.
Arizona transplant Savant talked about, "bridging the gap between touching the people that admire me most, and getting them to come with me to see what goes on in my life day in and day out," in an interview with the New Times this past May.
The introspective "Bar Enrichment" helped accomplish that with a sophisticated turn tinged with piano keys and sharp rhymes. Local rappers MedafOracle and Mr. Miranda also make an appearance on the track.
Black One, "No Want"
Tucson son Black One kind of surprised us back in May when he dropped a "Super-Smash Dubstep" single, leaving us to wonder, just what is Super-Smash Dubstep. Black One went on to tell us about his roots in the EDM scene and the turntable spinning world, and how they shaped his infatuation with dubstep crunch. The sound continued surfacing in his latest album, The Rise and the bass heavy tune, "No Want."
David Miranda and Hexsagon, "Down"
When Mr. Miranda isn't lending his chops as one leg of super hip-hop collective, Writer's Guild (Don't call them a supergroup) he stays busy dropping side projects with other local talent like beat maker Hexsagon. Miranda released a Rick James tribute called the The Super Freak Tape this year while also working on the Hexsagon-backed record called the H&M EP. The record promises all original production like the funk-fused "Down." This one made me want to cruise down a long, crowded boulevard.
Numbers, "Stay Awhile" Hip-hop duo Numbers adopted the mantra "dope beats, dope rhymes," in the making of their latest album, Nerds Gettin' Paper: The Establishment. "... we were more meticulous and refined when producing this new record," producer Izzy says. The process reflects perfectly in the track, "Stay Awhile." With a mellow downtempo beat, and grooving flow, this slick production comes with an automatic head bob.
FACES has one of my favorite deliveries around town right now; his abrupt, choppy flow forces you to listen to the rhymes. "You better sleep/better count all of your little sheep/Cause I'm not coming back to save you when your world is over thrown," he warns wickedly. He shows off his melodic prowess in two parts during "Cryosleep," using the first half of the track to croon in harmony, and makes a more aggressive stance during the second half.
Mouse Powell and Mega Ran, "Best Girl"
Much to our pleasure, collaborations continued to run rampant in the Valley this year. So when rappers Random a.k.a. Mega Ran and Mouse Powell decided to hit the road together, it only made sense that they should put together an EP. MegaMouse hit streets in October and especially won us over with the throwback track, "Best Girl."
RoQy TyRaid, "Royale with Cheese"
"Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?" Folks around Phoenix can call it a "Royale with cheese" now, too, after rapper RoQy TyRaid put his touch on the Pulp Fiction quote. The RoQ channels a darker more sinister side in this rant. "TyRaiD mode involves me sonically pulling your spine through your chest plate," he explains.
Mav, "In My Zone" "Go hard, or go home," is the recurring chorus in this heavy hitting banger. Mav of Sol Camp and Zig Zag from NB Ridaz tag team this release to champion their hometown, "Phoenix, Arizone." The two talk about the state of the game and putting Arizona on the map in their own way.