Hip-Hop Artists Take Aim at Sheriff Joe Tonight in Tempe

When Verbal Kent first heard about how Sheriff Joe Arpaio paraded 200 shackled Hispanic inmates through the streets of downtown Phoenix last week, the enraged Chicago-based hip-hop artist took action immediately.

Kent phoned his friends in the Valley, the promoters behind the weekly GALLERY BLU re:DEF hip-hop night at the Stray Cat in Tempe. The guys, including P-Town's MC Rashenal (a.k.a. Josh Bolick), all began organizing a special event designed to raise awareness of Sheriff Joe's dastardly actions both past and present.

The result? Tonight's edition of GALLERY BLU re:DEF, which has been dubbed "Stop the Circus: Fight for Tolerance. Stop Arpaio."

"What Sheriff Joe did by parading Latinos around like that was an absolute travesty," says Rashenal. "It's inhuman and racially motivated. Verbal and I felt like we needed to do something to fight back."

Verbal, who's a member of racial equality group Campaign for a United America, is bringing in some heavy hitters to aid the cause, including alternative/underground hip-hop stars One Be Lo and Wordsworth. They'll be dissing Arpaio alongside local rappers G-Owens, Fiyah Station, and Nobuddie.

The event will be taped and later uploaded to the Internet in the hopes of raising awareness in both the local and national hip-hop community.

"We want to unite the hip-hop community against Sheriff Joe and present an organized front," Rashenal says.

True, dat.

"Stop the Circus" runs from 8:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. with no cover all night. The Stray Cat Bar & Grill is located at 2433 East University Drive in Tempe. Call 480-967-1040.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.