Rap City

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"What inspires you to come up with rhymes and lyrics?" asks the J-girl, wide-eyed.

"I love the way Tupac got his point across with his music," replies Chopper. "And I like the way Jesus Christ got his point across through his talking. So with me talking and liking beats and music, I just put them together, and that's how I express myself."

We thank Chopper, and Jett decides she has to hit the head, leaving me on my own. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a booful brunette in a long, powder-blue North Carolina jersey-type dress, and since I hail from the Tar Heel State, you know I have to ease up on that. Says her name is Emily, and laughs when I ask if she's from Tobacco Road like me.

"No, I'm from Detroit originally," she responds. "Baby blue just looks good on me."

"It sure does," I say, admiring her outfit. "So what do you do for a living?"

"Actually, I run an escort service," she says, sipping on a 'Washington Apple,' a mixture of Crown Royal, apple vodka and cranberry. "The name of it is Delectable Desires. We're pretty discreet, pretty low-key. Mostly in-call, full-service. You just have to find us by word of mouth or on the Internet, though I can't say exactly where."

"How did you get in that line of business, if you don't mind me asking?"

"I went to school to be a pilot, ran out of money, and needed money," she chuckles. "Now look at me! Actually, I'd like to go back to flight school, but the money's too good right now."

"I hear you. So why O'Mallys?"

"Hip-hop," she replies. "It's one of the best hip-hop clubs in Phoenix."

Jett's still not back, so I float to the bar for another vodka-and-whatever. There I'm surrounded by a group of lovely black gals, including a buxom lass named Lisa, a small girl with a nice onion who goes by Lil' Bit, and a tall looker by the name of Destiny. I ask to take their pic, and before you know it, Lisa shouts, "Hey, take a picture of this!" and proudly flashes me a large, lovely pair of breasts, which I snap before nearly fainting. "Do we get naked after this?" asks Lisa, hugging me. But before Lisa and I can strip and run home together (in my dreams), Jett rushes up outta nowhere, grabs my ear and drags me to the other side of the room.

"What the hell are you doin'?!" she fusses, about to tear my earlobe off. "I go powder my nose, and look what you get up to. Don't you know the show's about to blast off?"

For real, AL3 is already callin' the crowd to attention with the help of some comic relief from West, an MC who plays rap critic and clown while AL3 works the DJ booth. A thick circle of humanity forms on the floor, with the masterful mic magicians either jumping up on a low black box that serves as a stage or remaining on the ground with the people.

A chap named Gladiator is the first to spit, then comes a little female named Reedy, who boasts, "I put it down for O'Mally and the bitches." Next is T. Casino from Chicago, with a Steelers cap on, "poppin' Moet, 'cause I know where it's at." Following him is Robbie G., then Little D, a.k.a. "the Drunk Bastard," and Flame Boy. Arcane, all in red, jumps up on the rise, and proves why he's currently known as "the Eminem of Phoenix," with a super-fast flow, smoother than black satin panties on a hundred-dolla ho. A playa named Red throws out some dolla bills as he rhymes, making folks scramble for the paper. And finally a smooth operator in a wheelchair rolls to the mic, and everyone bows down to King Tut.

So ends the freestylin', and begins the performances. Chaperoned by their dad Royce Todd are KeyTay, made up of Marquis "Key" Todd, 15, and his brother Emonte, or "Tay," 11. Though it's a school night for the boys, the crowd goes crazy for KeyTay as they take turns rhyming, with the refrain, "One in your nose, one in your mouth, two in your jaw, knocking you out." Then Kenosis steps up with his Top 40-bait, "Drinks on Me," and following Kenosis, Chopper garners love from the ladies with "Baby What Up?" R&B stylist C-note is next. He's got vocals as sweet as molasses, and the women are feelin' him, too. Last is Martuane, who perhaps has the most hard-core flow of the eve, rappin' while he's sippin'.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons