Rapper MC Optimal Spits Raw Energy and Creative Destruction with a Metaphysical Yen

MC Optimal

It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. And that's doubly true when it comes local music, of which there's an overabundance in metro Phoenix. The Valley's music scene is gifted with burgeoning bands and emerging artists who will be making waves and getting attention this year.

Over the next couple of weeks, Up on the Sun will highlight more than a dozen such acts for our series 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014. Today, Jason P. Woodbury profiles Salt River rez rapper MC Optimal.

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community resident and rapper MC Optimal isn't a new artist. But it's hard to deny that 2014 looks like it's going to be his year. He's recently signed with MURS' 316 label, and his verse in a recent cypher for the popular Team Backback site signal an artist with more than a little buzz.

"Wasn't really trying to convey anything else but that I spit nothing but skill and raw energy," Optimal says of his appearance alongside labelmates Kosha Dillz, Reverie, and MURS. His verse, hands down the most brutal of the bunch, achieves his goals, demonstrating an MC with a firm grasp on violent wordplay and a metaphysical yen. Songs like the gentle "Good Hair" on his SoundCloud profile juxtapose wildly with the verse -- Optimal isn't afraid of poetry, and he isn't afraid to employ some creative destruction.

Optimal -- born Guy Goodwin -- has been a staple in the local hip-hop scene for over a decade, coming up from open mics in downtown Phoenix.

"In late '95 I started developing my rhyming skills with the crew I rolled with in the [Salt River] rez. Just a bunch of us knuckleheads up to no good. I eventually started going to open mic sessions, and a couple of battle scenes here in their in random spots," Optimal says. "It wasn't until 2003 I started going to this place called Majerles' 9 Lounge in downtown Phoenix, [where] a Los Angeles-based MC named Volume 10 was hosting a weekly hip-hop night called the Volume Zone. At the end of every night he would always open the mic up. I would get on it. Every single time. And kept doing it until where I started getting actual shows to perform an actual set instead of just going up there and free-styling."

It was at 9 Lounge that Optimal started connecting with Tempe and Phoenix-based artists like Brad B, the Insects, and Foundation. His decade-long connection with "his homie" Foundation brought him to the attention of Tucson/Los Angeles-based rapper MURS.

"[Foundation] had mentioned my name to him and has always believed that I deserved a shot," Optimal says.

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