Music News

Silver Medallion’s Oren J. Struggles to Create a Fitting Legacy for His Late Partner Carnegie

Page 2 of 3

And that was due in large part to Lattin's mad vocal talents, which local producer Stevie Thunder described (in a blog eulogizing Carnegie) as "on par with heavy-hitting punchline artists of the East Coast."

"His flow was seasoned, and he possessed one of the key elements that makes a great lyricist, and that is the ability to stay on beat," Thunder wrote. "He was really comfortable on the microphone."

Lattin's vocals also made an impression on former Power 98.3 producer and on-air personality Karlie Hustle, who described her reaction to hearing "Gravity" for the first time in her own online epitaph.

"I still remember where I was when I first heard this song," she wrote. "I knew in that moment that something huge was on the horizon for the Arizona music scene."

Silver Medallion had uploaded "Gravity," an elegant yet emotionally wrought four-minute slow jam, onto their MySpace page in April 2008, when Hustle and the rest of the Power 98.3 staff heard it and played the track on the radio station's "Street Heat" local artist spotlight. It eventually made its way into regular rotation and, Schuable says, "things kinda whirlwinded from there."

Another major MySpace hit for Silver Medallion was "Scottsdale," a debaucherous hip-hop anthem that both celebrated and lampooned the city's hedonistic obsession with drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Within weeks, they went from their first gig at Tempe's Yucca Tap Room to Scottsdale clubs like Axis/Radius and Myst, as well as appearances at hipster hangouts like the now-defunct Glam, where they were popular with the Valley's electro-oriented trendsters.

"Both of us were pretty notorious partiers in both scenes. That's one reason why Carnegie and I got along so well, we would both go out every night of the week, whether that meant going to Glam or going to Scottsdale. It didn't matter," Schuable says. "When we started, we'd dress all crazy, with huge silver chains and matching '80s tracksuits, rolling into Glam and drinking trashcans and 40s out back and then hop right in to perform two songs at the height of the night.

"There are also so many crazy people in Scottsdale, from club owners to DJs. We were right there with 'em, doing drugs on rooftops and everything you could possibly imagine that a group that's getting popular would be doing. And the people who we partied with dug it and supported it, even if we were making fun of them in the song," he says. "We were amazed that we got caught up in this world so quickly. We had a grand old time."

Silver Medallion was "just running wild," engaging in a nonstop party. A year after their debut, Silver Medallion had tracks were in heavy rotation on Power 98.3 and 101.5 Jamz. The release party for their album The Last of the Pop Stars drew hundreds to the W Scotts­dale. Their tour schedule included slots opening for electro-hop artists LMFAO and white-boy rapper Schwayze, appearances at college campuses around the country, and even a few spring break gigs in Lake Havasu.

Although Schuable considered the Valley their home base, the pair moved to NYC in 2009 to take the next step. But ties to the Valley were exemplified by the music video for "Gravity," which was shot by onetime New Times photographer Giulio Sciorio and featured the pair on a stylized walking tour through downtown Phoenix's more picturesque landmarks. Schuable says its more serious tone (especially in contrast to the drug-and-sex-laced music video for "Scottsdale") underscored how Silver Medallion were trying to shed their party image for something more mature.

The unfortunate irony that a member of Silver Medallion would be killed by a suspected drunk driver (given the group's success was based on a song glorifying alcohol and drugs) is not lost on Schuable. It's one of the many reasons he wants to distance himself from "Scottsdale."

"We made 'Scottsdale' as a joke and it became extremely popular," he says. "And we wished people would listen to 'Gravity' more than 'Scottsdale.' In a way, it's more of where we were going as a group."

He's also trying to move forward with both his life and Silver Medallion, which he says will continue to exist without Lattin.

"Silver Medallion wasn't just me or just Carnegie, Joel, or all of us together. We always looked at it as something greater. So I've tried to keep that attitude. Like, I don't look at it like Carnegie's gone and now I'm Silver Medallion. I'm just a part of something that is Silver Medallion — and that includes Carnegie and all the people that we work with."

That includes DJ Benzi, the NYC mixtape maestro who's worked with such hip-hop heavyweights as Kanye West and Lil Wayne and helped Mike Posner's breakthrough. Benzi worked with Schuable on producing No One Ever Really Dies, which was released online for free through Silver Medallion's website on Tuesday.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.