Rage Against the Machine's The Battle of Los Angeles: Still Relevant 15 Years Later

Categories: hip-hop

Fist in the air in the land of hypocrisy.

By Gabriel San Roman

It was no coincidence that Rage Against the Machine released The Battle of Los Angeles on what's traditionally observed as Election Day in the United States in 1999. The 2000 election season was already in gear, with Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore setting up to spar -- but Rage struck first.

The band's third studio album claimed the top spot on the charts, and burned with unbridled rebellion fueled by Zack de la Rocha's radical rhymes and Tom Morello's experimental mastery on guitar.

In many ways, the world hasn't changed nearly enough in the past 15 years. Here's why The Battle of Los Angeles feels as urgent now as it did when it was first unleashed.

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Video: Run The Jewels Meet the Phoenix Guy Behind the Cat Meow Remix Kickstarter

Categories: hip-hop

It's clear that El-P and Killer Mike, the explosive rap duo that make up Run The Jewels, give a shit about their fans. You need look no further than how they handled the funding for Meow The Jewels, the tongue-in-cheek proposal to remix Run The Jewels 2 with nothing but cat meows if someone paid them $40,000.

So when Phoenix call center cowboy Sly Jones took up their $40,000 offer to, they were shocked, but delighted. Jones used Kickstarter to raise more than $65,000, all of which is now going to the families of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. Both young men were shot and killed by police earlier this year, events that Run The Jewels have been outspoken about.

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Phoenix Rapper Dadadoh on Why Honesty Is Best in Hip-Hop

Categories: hip-hop

Frank C. Photography

After his band broke up in Virginia, Bryan Preston, better known as Dadadoh, wasn't sure what to do with himself. After visiting the Valley in July 2009, he decided to move to Tempe, despite not knowing anyone. He's been here ever since.

Yet for the next two years, Dadadoh avoided music, which is odd considering how much of a presence he's had on the local scene lately. He's unofficially helped organize Parliament shows, played djembe in Naked Pizza, rapped over Bacchus and the Demon Sluts' instrumental funk jams at Crescent Ballroom, and hosted Before the Show Live, a video series showcasing local bands like Sister Lip and Nomada. He's also produced a number of local albums, with two more on the way -- Suber's tentatively titled My Friend Suber and Mr. Uu's Chicken and Bread EP. And that's not even half of what Dadadoh has been up to.

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This Greek Billionaire Wants to Take Battle Rap Mainstream

Categories: hip-hop

Photo by Matthew Septimus
Alki David, at home in Beverly Hills

By Chaz Kangas

As the man behind the Tupac hologram and last year's aborted George Zimmerman/DMX boxing match, Alki David is no stranger to controversy. Now the 46-year-old Greek billionaire has another wild idea: He wants to bring battle rap, the hip-hop competition where MCs have to outperform their opponent with razor-sharp rhymes, to the mainstream.

In 2014, the battle rap industry grew significantly. With the Eminem-backed Total Slaughter ushering battles into the world of pay-per-view cable TV, and mainstream artists such as Joe Budden (former Def Jam artist of "Pump It Up" fame) and rapper-actor Fredro Starr (member of '90s rap icons Onyx and star of Moesha) jumping into the ring to compete, there are more ways than ever to see competitive rhyming in action.

Still, battle rap has never come close to the popularity of rap music itself. Even with hip-hop icons such as Eminem, Diddy and Drake directly investing in battle leagues, competitive, head-to-head rapping exists as something of an island off the coast of the greater hip-hop nation.

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Chilean Rapper Ana Tijoux Thinks We're Witnessing Digital Exhaustion

Categories: hip-hop

Ana Tijoux

In the last five years, French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux has risen into the cream of the crop of serious Latin American artists using music to raise social consciousness. Building an audience to unfold social and political discourse demands a certain level of recognition. Some people point to Tijoux's performance at NPR's Tiny Desk Concert as her international breakthrough. Others argue it was Thom Yorke's 2010 listing of the rapper as one of his then-current favorites that brought her international acclaim. Most recently, we witnessed her hit "1977" being featured on that TV phenomenon Breaking Bad. And of course, how can anyone forget her collaboration with Mexican pop star Julieta Venegas in the infectious mega-hit "Eres Para Mi."

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Yes, a Battle Rapper Tried to Defecate Onstage at Celebrity Theatre This Weekend

Categories: hip-hop

Daylyt being kicked out of Celebrity Theatre on Saturday.
Duel in the Desert this past weekend at Celebrity Theatre almost became "Deuce in the Desert," thanks to the antics of controversial L.A. battle rapper Daylyt.

That's because the notorious MC -- whose previous stunts include declaring that he'd "fuck Diddy" or performing autofellatio while performing -- attempted to take go number two onstage at the Phoenix concert venue in response to getting booed during the battle rap massive on Saturday afternoon.

Yup, you read that right: A rapper tried to turn the Celebrity's stage into a crapper.

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Mickey Avalon's Co-Dependent Relationship with Frat Culture

Categories: Interview, hip-hop

Mickey Avalon

This was supposed to just be an article about douche bags.

It was supposed to highlight a sleazy rapper with a drug-addled party complex that mirrored the underbelly of the equally sleazy frat scene found just a few miles from Phoenix. See, Mickey Avalon has his dual lives: he's a recovering addict, a former prostitute and drug dealer who picked up a crusty melody off the sticky floor of a Los Angeles bar, blew on it, and then wrapped it up in a slinky strip club package and sold it to listeners who wanted to feel just a little bit dirty while listening.

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Phoenix Rappers Shining Soul Detained at Canadian Border -- Again

Shining Soul

Phoenix hip-hop duo Shining Soul say Canadian Border Services Agency recently stopped, detained, and heavily questioned them at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. The duo was trying to get to a concert scheduled as part of its "Hometown Foreigners Tour."

This is the second time the pair -- Franco Habre, a.k.a. Bronze Candidate, and Alex Soto, a.k.a. Liason -- has faced problems trying to cross into Canada. The first instance happened in May, when they tried to drive in through Washington.

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Autobot of Flosstradamus: "There's Always Going to Be Haters, No Matter What You Do"

Categories: EDM, Q&A, hip-hop

Courtesy of Biz3
J2K (left) and Autobot of Flosstradamus.
In the 2013 mini-documentary chronicling the rise of the Mad Decent Block Party, über-producer and festival founder Diplo has a bit of advice for anyone who performs at the event: "If you're an act, don't play after Flosstradamus," he says. "That's really hard."

It's a simple edict that illustrates not only the Chicago-based duo's prominence in Mad Decent land (and the realms of both dance music and trap they occupy), but also their abilities as party instigators and performers.

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Check Out the Massive, All-Local Lineup for the Arizona Hip Hop Festival

JustUs Samuel, mastermind of Arizona Hip Hop Festival

On October 18 at Comerica Theatre, more than 80 Arizona MCs, DJs, and performers will get together for what must be the largest local hip-hop show ever thrown, Arizona Hip Hop Festival.

This staggering undertaking is the brainchild of JustUs Samuel, the rapper and founder of Respect the Underground, which hosts hip-hop nights a couple of times a month at Joe's Grotto.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or via any of the artists directly.

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