By Benjamin Leatherman
Who needs MTV when you’ve got YouTube? Personally, I’ve managed to survive without basic cable for a couple years now, mostly due to the fact that anything worth watching on MTV -- or television in general -- can pretty much be found on the online video site (or elsewhere on the Web). Episodes of The Hills or Cribs? Check. The extreme exploits of the kids of Barrio 19? Yep, those are available, too.
And another way that YouTube towers over MTV is in its vast selection of practically every music video that’s ever been made. I can find some pretty rare and choice shit on the site, whether I’m craving videos of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Living Colour, old school Ice Cube, or a million other artists. All I have to do is dial up YouTube for a fix. It’s also a tremendous place for finding videos from countless underground and unsigned musicians who (sadly) aren’t anywhere near landing on MTV’s radar. For instance, one thing I’ve been digging on as of late are the off-the-chain music videos from underground hip-hop artist MC Bener One.
As music editor Niki D’Andrea wrote about this past January in her cover story “Raising Terrazona,” the hip-hop scene in the Valley is thriving, and a big part it are Latino artists like Bener (pronounced “Bee-ner”) One. A founding member of former P-Town hip-hop crew FNX UNDERGROUND, Bener is a pimp MC who’s been creating killer tracks for years with the assistance of his brother DJ Tranzo (who used to spin on the weekends over at the 27th Avenue Bar & Grill).
I’m also a big fan of musicians who reference their hometown stomping grounds in their music and videos, and Bener One apparently loves to represent both the PHX and the west side (He’s “born and raised 3900 block west,” according to his MySpace), and does that with gusto with his jams.
Peep Bener One’s comical video for his song “Smokin Weed 2 Much,” where he raps to the camera about his love of the wacky tobaccy at various locations around downtown Phoenix.
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The dude also shows off his hood in the videos for “Best of the Best” and “Shake Ur Rearview,” with both songs boasting some hot beats laid down by Tranzo. (The latter song is from Bener One’s latest CD, Hip Hop Cholo Vol. 1).
You can check out Bener One’s mic skills for yourself this weekend, when he and DJ Tranzo are scheduled to perform at the American Beauty Graffiti Art Show on Saturday night, June 7, at the Just Blazed Hip-Hop Smoke Shop & Gallery, 1740 East McDowell Road in Phoenix. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m.