Black One Gets a Little Help from His Friends on Latest Record, The Rise
Phoenix-by-way-of-Tucson rapper Jaron Ikner is really over the whole, "me first mentality" in hip-hop culture. Long gone are the days of quality congregations of rappers like that of 90's supercrew Wu-Tang Clan, but it's something the Black One wants to change.
Starting first with his latest record, The Rise, which features a wide range of local MC's and continuing with a new assembly of Arizona rappers he calls the Starstruck Collective.
We caught up with Ikner to talk about his latest release and the promising state of Southwest hip-hop.
Up on the Sun: What's the good word with the Black One?
Black One: The Rise just dropped on Black Friday and I'm currently working with a new project called the Starstruck Collective. It's not really a label or a rap group, but more like a collective of some of the best Tucson artists I could find.
We're pretty much trying to make a movement for Arizona hip-hop. We actually put together a block party in downtown Tucson a couple of weeks back that was very successful. So we're just trying to branch out and trying to make this Arizona hip-hop thing more than just an Arizona thing and take it as far as we can.
So with Starstruck being based out of Tucson, does that mean you've relocated back down there?
I'm actually currently driving down the 51 freeway back to my house as we speak, but my heart is still in Tucson. I'm still involved in the Phoenix hip-hop scene as well, but I'm just trying to be everywhere right now.
I'm in the process of forming a Phoenix-version of Starstruck, but I just haven't found enough artists to make that happen. You'll be seeing that emerge pretty soon.
"When it comes to rappers in general it seems to always be just one man, just one person -- you don't see movements anymore like you did back in the '80s and '90s. Nowadays there's a Jay-Z or a Kanye West, but it's just a singular person, and we're trying to break that mold and shake things up a little bit." -- Black One
What was the catalyst behind the formation of this type of collective?
For me personally, I've always kind of been a lone wolf, but when I first got on the scene I had a collective which consisted of high school friends. That eventually dissolved and I moved on by myself. During that time I've seen artists everywhere trying to get their music out, but not getting enough shine, so I thought the best place to start was there. It seemed the best thing to do would be for all of us to get together and try to make it work.
It's like a brotherhood -- that would be the best way to describe it. If there's a show going on, we have meetings to decide who's the best person for that show and we try to get them on, or if someone has an album coming out, we push for it. For instance, my friend J-Rich just dropped an album called, Ready For The World a couple of weeks ago so we're pushing that pretty heavily and getting it out onto the streets and online. But that's the whole idea behind it. It needs to be about more than just one person.
When it comes to rappers in general it seems to always be just one man, just one person -- you don't see movements anymore like you did back in the '80s and '90s. Nowadays there's a Jay-Z or a Kanye West, but it's just a singular person, and we're trying to break that mold and shake things up a little bit.