Veteran MC Scarub 
Looks Back on a Life 
of Rhythm and Rhyme

Categories: hip-hop

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Kevin Wallace
Scarub, of Living Legends fame

Hip-hop has been an integral part of Armon Collins' life for a long time -- nearly three decades now -- but the music wasn't quite what brought him to the music.

Before Collins became better known as Scarub -- a speed-rap-proficient MC who rose as part of the well-regarded Los Angeles rap collective Living Legends -- he was a kid witnessing the ascent of a powerful young art form throughout the 1980s and early '90s.

"Moms and pops was listening to Anita Baker and Luther Vandross," Collins, 36, says, "and we were turning on the radio and listening to Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, [and] N.W.A."

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Why Wu-Tang's Shaolin Business Model Is Brilliant

Categories: hip-hop

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The music world is abuzz with Wu-Tang Clan's announcement yesterday that the single copy of the group's double-album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, will be sold, like a Rembrandt or a Rothko, at auction sometime this year.

It's a lavish production. The album comes "presented in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by the British Moroccan artist Yahya," the group's website says. Inside the box is another intricately carved case, within which will be the actual disc. The music will feature guest performances from Cher, Redman, Carice Van Houten, and more, including FC Barcelona soccer players, whatever that means. (You can hear part of Cher's contribution over at Forbes; the 51-second snippet is the only part of the album that has been released.)

The winning bidder will get to do whatever with the 31-track album -- lend it to a museum, place it in a personal collection, release it online for free, melt it for scrap, whatever -- and if RZA was telling the truth when he said the group had received a $5 million offer for it, then the album will probably fetch a similar amount, possibly more, at auction.

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The Final Weekly Blunt Club in Photos

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Photos by Benjamin Leatherman
The members of The Blunt Club onstage at Yucca Tap in Tempe on Thursday.
"Whoop! Whoop! That's the sound of the police!"

KRS-One had some major vocal backup on Thursday night at the Yucca Tap Room. As the bombastic boom-bap of the rap legend's 1993 single, "Sound of the Police," blares through the sound system of the Tempe rock bar, a horde of close to a hundred voices scream-sing the chorus in unison with hands in the air.

Mass sing-alongs to rap classics are a common occurance at The Blunt Club, but on Thursday night it seemed a bit louder and forceful than usual. It's not surprising, considering the crowd at the hip-hop night was significantly larger than normal and that it would be their last chance to do so at a Blunt Club, at least for the next couple weeks.

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Anthony Valadez Talks About The Importance of Making Art for Yourself

Categories: hip-hop

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Theo Jemison
Anthony Valadez

It's easy to find new and interesting music these days. All we have to do is pull up an app on our smartphone, and in seconds we can find a song that will hopefully move, motivate, or make us feel that special something in the gray matter between our headphones. Once upon a time, though, finding music that was left of center wasn't easy. Just ask Los Angeles-based Anthony Valadez, a photographer, record producer, podcaster, blogger, and the Monday late-night DJ at Santa Monica's public radio station, KCRW. The multi-hyphenate, who was hunting for early-'90s hip-hop and underground French artist DJ Cam in his formative years, recalls the journey he used to take to retrieve an album from his favorite record store.

"Melrose had all the cool, hip record shops," Valadez says. "I used to take the bus and travel down to Hollywood to just buy one or two records, because that's all I could afford at the time. I remember just sitting in the record store for hours and hours and I'd come home with two records, but those two records justified the whole trip."

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The Blunt Club Is Leaving Yucca Tap and Heading for Other Venues Around the Valley

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Benjamin Leatherman
DJ Reflekshin performs at The Blunt Club Thursday night at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.
It's getting toward closing time during The Blunt Club Thursday night at Tempe's Yucca Tap Room and it looks like no one's in the mood to call it quits.

The main bar is glowing with Christmas lights and busy with activity as DJ Reflekshin drops slow jams in between classic hip-hop joints from Biz Markie and N.W.A. onstage while local painter Queen Loopy creates live art behind him. Out on the dance floor, b-boys and girls are dishing out moves in the middle of a loose cypher while other patrons are singing along to the well-remembered refrains of of "Just a Friend" or "Boyz-N-The Hood."

In short, it's another classic session of The Blunt Club at the Yucca Tap. It also happens to be one of the last weekly editions of the long-running hip-hop night at the bar.

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Dissecting the Weird Raps of Swedish Teen Rapper Yung Lean

Categories: hip-hop

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Fredrik Andersson
Yung Lean's in the middle.

If you've ever wondered about the meaning or history of a specific online trend or concept --Doge, Bitcoin, Slender Man, or that creepy Nicolas Cage face -- a remedy exists at Know Your Meme (www.knowyourmeme.com). The site dedicates thousands of pages to explaining the significance of famous Internet ideas, fads, and people. Four months ago, Know Your Meme user Molly Horan created a comprehensive entry about Yung Lean -- the alias of a bucket-hat-loving, baby-faced 18-year-old Swedish MC named Jonatan Leandoer Håstad. Know Your Meme houses pages on several topical musicians and songs, but if there's ever been an artist whose ascent is worth tracking and analyzing on the self-avowed "Internet meme database," it's Yung Lean.

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Watch Futuristic and Jakob Owens Rip O.T. Genasis' "CoCo"

Categories: hip-hop

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Futuristic and Jakob Owens have made a video ripping on O.T. Genasis.

O.T. Genasis' "CoCo" is one of those songs that blows up, and no one really knows why. It's a somewhat repetitive beat with a dumbed-down chorus that somehow worms its way into your ear a takes up permanent residence. For every song like "CoCo" that makes it big, there are a dozen trying the same formula of shouted slogans and rote repetition, and they go nowhere.

Enter Futuristic and Jakob Owens, two McClintock High School grads (Owens graduated from Arizona State University as well). Futuristic is one of the latest successful musicians to make the Phoenix-to-L.A. move, and Owens has shot almost, if not all, of Futuristic's music videos, including "I Guess I'll Smoke." (When New Times wrote about the song's video in late June, it had been viewed just over 1 million times. Now, the view count sits a hair under 2.4 million.)

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

Categories: hip-hop

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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

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Frank C. Photography
Dadadoh

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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