Phoenix hip-hop has come a long way. Over the years, the scene has risen from being nonexistent to having multiple artists operating on a national level. Internally, the talent continues to rise as the scene grows. With numerous artists trying to make their mark on Arizona hip-hop scene, we take a look at some of the best projects to release in 2016 so far.
9. Mc Shinobi – Mc Shinobi
In an attempt to bring back the raw boom-bap sound of golden-era hip-hop, Mc Shinobi’s self-titled debut is reminiscent of a sound that has been long looked over in modern-day rap. Head-nodding rhythms make this project feel like it was made on the streets of New York when hip-hop wasn’t quite as commercialized as it is now. Mc Shinobi delivers strong bars with an air of urgency over 11 tracks that will make you miss the good ol’ days of hip-hop.
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8. Vee Tha Rula – From the Jump
After linking up with Kid Ink and Alumni records a couple of years prior, all eyes were on Vee to deliver. Vee answered the call with a couple of mixtape releases and follows up with his latest release, From Tha Jump. With the lead single, “Out The Roof,” hitting the ground running, Vee manages to craft a project that allows him to showcase his range and style.
7. Mr. Miranda – Mr. Miranda’s Neighborhood
Miranda continues to prove that he is one of the most consistent artists out of Arizona by releasing Mr. Miranda’s Neighborhood, a mixtape featuring some of the emcee’s biggest songs over the last couple of years. DJ Ronnie Digital does an excellent job of making the compilation sound like a traditional mixtape from the late '90s as Mr. Miranda drops exclusive freestyle throughout.
6. De La Preme – Rise of the Black Lion
De La represents a movement of young up-and-coming stars in the Phoenix hip-hop. His new release, The Rise of a Black Lion, manages to tap into the core sound of current hip-hop music. With a unique vocal tone, Preme decisively blends well with the pounding trap and cloud production, making him one to keep an eye on in the future.
5. Bag of Tricks Cat – Cat's Out The Bag
As the first official artist to be released under the newly formed Respect the Underground label, Bag Of Tricks was certainly under a lot of pressure to deliver a solid project to set the tone and pace of the faction. Cat's Out The Bag manages to achieve this with decent production and guest appearances from the likes of AZ hip-hop legends such Random and Bookie, as well as features from members of D12. It acts as a good starting point for Respect the Underground as they continue to make an impact on Arizona hip-hop history.
4. Random – MatMania : The Album
Keeping in line with the apparently popular trend of body-slamming music, rising star Random aka MegaRan follows up his stellar release RNDM with MatMania, a reworking of popular wrestling entrance themes mixed with banging hip-hop drums. Nostalgia-inducing theme songs from the wrestlers like The Undertaker and Brock Lessnar get the MegaRan treatment as he aggressively flows through the nine-track project. Friends like Murs and Doug Funnie help in the lyrical department, as Lynx Kinetic constructs the soundscape, making this a must-listen project for rap and wrestling fans alike.
3. Teek Hall and Kollatteral – Vader vs. Foley
Two members of seasoned local group Wax Society have teamed up for the wrestling-themed project, Vader vs Foley. Named after the epic wrestling match where Mick Foley (aka Cactus Jack aka Mankind) lost his ear in a match with Big Van Vader, Teek Hall and Kollateral attempt to embody the feeling of a hardcore wrestling match over the course of six aggressive tracks blended with clever wrestling metaphors, back-and-forth bars, and body-slamming production.
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2. Lord Kash and Cuzn’ It – Kairos
As one third of the lead vocalists of the popular Phoenix hip-hop/soul band The Stakes, Lord Kash put in some serious work over the last year. This recent release finds him teaming up with newcomer, Cuzn’ It, for a boom-bap heavy and socially political driven EP. The hard-hitting soundscape mixed with grimy lyrical acrobatics makes Kairos a breath of fresh air against the oversaturated trap sound dominating hip-hop today.
1. Sincerely Collins – The Legend Of Phoenix
As the follow up to Collins’ well-received Destroyer, which featured Funk Volume label members Rittz and Jarren Benton on the minor hit single “Lightwork,” The Legend of Phoenix acts a dedication to the young rapper’s mother, who went missing when he was 2 years old. The album shows much progression and growth. Sincerely Collins continues to find his true voice. The soulful production and introspective, biographical lyrics make this Collins’ strongest release to date.