Rapper T.I. must have seen something he liked when he stopped by Phoenix this past weekend. His Atlanta-based record label Grand Hustle is showing Arizona some love with a new mixtape, The Phoenix Edition Mixtape.
The 17-track release showcases some of the Valley's up and coming hip-hop acts including Yung Kooky, Hannibal Leq, and New Orleans-native Jae E, as well as Lil Wayne, E40 and T.I.
Rapper Jae E's track "Go Get It" is just one of the record's highlights. We talk to him about what defines Arizona hip-hop.
Up on the Sun: This mixtape is about repping some of the hottest hip-hop coming out of the Valley today. In a few words, how would you describe Arizona hip-hop?
Jae E: I would say it's very diverse in the sense of there is no real defined sound. With Arizona, I'd like to call it a melting pot. A lot of artist come from others places and grew up listening to different styles of music. We have guys from the south, some from the east coast, and the Bay area. We definitely have to show love to the talented artist that come right from Arizona as well. The one thing I can honestly say we all have in common is respecting quality music, no matter where it comes from or sounds like. On another note, what does separate us is the fact that the southwest hasn't had a hip-hop artist break out and constantly deliver at a respectable level. I do feel that our time is coming. We have a group of artists that can stir things up in this region and get more national exposure for Arizona.
You're originally from New Orleans but now call Arizona home. How is the music scene different/the same?
In New Orleans we have a unique sound/style of music called "bounce", which has spread widely through the the southern states. As a matter of fact, T.I. captured it perfectly in his new single, "Ball." Which goes back to what I mentioned earlier about Arizona not necessarily having a specific sound that says, "Yo that cat is from AZ." But the biggest difference is the support from radio stations, media and clubs/venues. Down in New Orleans -- since you know everyone doesn't have internet to stream or download records -- the only way to get your music heard is through the radio outlets, live shows or the local DJ's spinning your record in the clubs. I truly believe our hip-hop culture is getting better with that as well but everything is a process. As far as similarities, that's easy: the hunger. There are artist out here really starting to turn it up and figure out the ins and outs of the music business. The grind and passion is at an all time high. At least it is for me and I know I can speak for a few other artists out here.
What's next on the horizon for you?
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Right now getting ready to finally release the mixtape ADITL: First Class. We also have another EP in the works but we aren't going to give the people the title just yet. Doing a little touring off of the success of the single, "Go Get It" which is on iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, and Spotify. everywhere. Check that out if you haven't. Other than that man, my team and I are continuing to push and get more national exposure. We have a few trips planned for the top of the year to shoot down south and then make our way north towards Philly and New York. So we are staying busy -- you know go mode.