Twenty-five years ago, the Phoenix hip-hop scene was virtually nonexistent. That's when Irin Daniels -- taking the name IROC -- got involved, and since that time, he's become one of the most respected hip-hop entities in Arizona. If you have had any semblance of a hip-hop career in this state, there's a very good chance you've heard of the man. He formerly managed the G.O.O.D. Music-affiliated hit maker Lifted (producer of last year's smash hit "Mercy " by Kanye West) and has released his own critically acclaimed projects, including his album as Roca Dolla, Roca Is a Classic.
Now, IROC plans on applying his golden touch to a new hip-hop-inspired film, Blood Ink. "I think this will be one of the biggest projects to ever come out Arizona, especially one that revolves around the hip-hop community," IROC says.
Produced by his own production company, Marmera Films -- which as worked with 2 Chainz, Cory Guns, Los, Lil' Flip, Compton Menace from Black Wall Street, Willy Northpole, Mike Millz, and Juice, and more -- IROC describes the film as a "paranormalCrash
"The plot of Blood Ink revolves around this tattoo artist who is murdered while giving these cats a tattoo," he says. "It's also simultaneously about other people's lives, and really plays into the idea of six degrees of separation. There are several people and plot lines happening throughout the movie, and over time, all of the stories intersect."
The film crew is massive: IROC estimates more than 500 people in Arizona have worked on it. Blood Ink is nearly complete, and after some limited showings in Arizona, he plans on shopping the film around for distribution. The film represents the culmination of everything he's worked toward with Mamera Films.
"The 'Mar' in Marmera is my son Marquel and the 'Mera' is my daughter Tamera," he says. "I got started in films because I got hired to teach audio, 10 years ago, over at Collins College. I was the only audio instructor teaching ProTools at the time, and I was teaching in the film department. I didn't know anything about film, but it was a learning environment. As time went on, I picked up on the trade of film, and it kind of developed from there."
Though he's busy expanding his hip-hop empire into the world of film, he's still keeping his ear close to the ground, looking for the next Lifted: an artist poised to break out big.
"I pretty much listen to everybody, man," he says. "I get hit up pretty often by various artists to try and have me check out their music, so I'm constantly checking out new songs. Right now in my trunk I'm bumping the new Guilty by Association street album, which is very solid work."
He says that the current hip-hop environment in Phoenix is thriving -- and he's been around long enough to have experienced times when it wasn't so robust.
"The current climate is real good," he says. "I'm working with a few artists, my son Marquel and Kyle Collins right now, and their music is awesome. Futuristic is really representing a whole different era of MCs coming up that are refreshing. It's exciting to hear a bunch of young cats that really can spit bars and make cohesive songs. There really is a changing of the guard happening right now in the scene, and it's remarkable."
With Blood Ink, he looks to provide a tent-pole film for the Southwestern hip-hop community.
"It's a movement . . . I want to give a big special shout out the entire cast and crew of the Blood Ink movie," he says. "This is one of the biggest things Arizona hip-hop has ever done, and it means so much to me. I also want to shout out the entire state of Arizona."
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