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The Highly Influential (and Mostly Unknown) Hip-Hop Past of She Wants Revenge

On hip-hop supergroup The Roots' 2002 album, Phrenology, there's a track called "WAOK (Ay) Roll Call," wherein the band gives shout-outs to 230 of their favorite and most influential music artists, including Grandmaster Flash and Common. At the very end of this illustrious list, the track ends with the words "...and Justin Warfield."

When most people first heard this song, they reacted much like me: Who the hell is Justin Warfield? The world wouldn't know until 2006, when Warfield released his debut album as one half of darkwave duo She Wants Revenge and had a hit with the song "Tear You Apart."

But before SWR, Warfield was making hip-hop records. He had a hit in 1991 with a song called "Season of the Vic" (which reached #18 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart), and released a hip-hop album in 1993 titled My Field Trip to Planet 9.

Listening to the dark, danceable dirges of She Wants Revenge, listeners are more likely to think of bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus than say, Wu-Tang Clan or The Roots. Check out the videos for SWR's "Tear You Apart" (directed by Joaquin Phoenix) and Warfield's '91 hip-hop hit "Season of the Vic" to see the contrast.

It's unlikely that She Wants Revenge will be playing any hip-hop at their upcoming show, but fans of the duo's melancholy synth-pop won't mind. But at least now we know who Justin Warfield is.

She Wants Revenge is scheduled to perform Thursday, June 16 at The Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe. They will also perform in-store at Zia Record Exchange in Chandler at noon.

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