Rappers from Arizona haven’t made large national waves. A few got signed and their songs were played on the radio. A few more got signed and went on national, and even international, tours but their projects got shelved by the label.
However, those occurrences should not be how we measure those artists. The measuring stick for Arizona artists and this community should be the music. And here, we present to you classic Arizona records and the videos made to promote those records. Each in its own right is a classic. It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means. There are many more classic records and thus many more lists to make. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Press play, read through it, and then go to our Facebook page - Facebook.com/flotivitymedia - to discuss.
Mouse Powell – Holding Home
Off the album, Where It’s Cloudy, Holding Home is a classic because it’s a song solely about Arizona. In addition to name-dropping many of Arizona’s landmarks, it captures the AZ vibe perfectly. It has that palm tree slowly swaying over a pool party filled with a bunch of beautiful people vibe. Mouse documents so many local spots and events that are now gone from the Modified to Wet Paint to Trax N Wax to the Sets to Mason Jar. On it he spits - "So Mouse where you from? I still say AZ/even though half the nation says we gone crazy/I love deck park, four peaks, sun shine, palmtrees/Latinas, tattoos, and girls all around me" which perfectly encapsulates Arizona.
Cut Throat Logic – A’Z Up
At one point, this was the Arizona anthem that introduced the state to the hand gesture that came to represent the AZ scene. Two peace signs placed together sideways to form a triangular "A" shape was the symbol. It came to be the symbol that almost every rapper from Arizona was throwing up. Plus Cut Throat Logic represented AZ across the nation when it got signed to famed label Rawkus Records. Chant it with me - This is my city/this is my home/this is where I’m from/Phoenix, Arizone/get your A’z up/come on hang em high/we gonna represent until we die
Willy Northpole – Body Marked Up
When Willy Northpole got signed to Ludacris’ record label on the strength of this song, it seemed like everyone was bumping Body Marked Up. The subtle bass kick allowed Willy to kick his smooth, under control flow. The chorus simply looped the song’s title over and over. With Luda himself in the video, it just seemed at the time that this song was going to put Phoenix on the map. It was a very huge track for the city.
Silver Medallion – Gravity
There was a now brief, but super fun moment in Arizona’s history when there was this party each week. The partys were super-glammed up and where electro, dubstep, and other EDM remixes were played, but before it was ever cool or mainstream. The people at these parties were taste makers. Matter of fact, I’m fairly positive the concept of bringing a photo booth to a party began here. I could be wrong, but two of those super cool people that emerged from that party were Carnegie and Oren J of Silver Medallion. In Gravity they were able to capture that coolness and the sound of that moment perfectly.
Random/Mega Ran – Push
Internationally, Mega Ran has to be the biggest rapper from Arizona. He is regularly in Japan, and all across the U.S. performing. The thing that’s really fresh about Mega Ran is how versatile he is. He’s comfortable spitting fun raps or the biographical, serious, and political, raps like the ones in Push. He’s an emcee for sure. Push is that other side - the non-video game playing, deep thinking side. It's a gem of a record because of how authentic and genuine it feels.
Wax Society – 2X
Wax Society was a dope crew made up of five primary members: MCs R.E.D, Teek Hall, Kollateral, DJ/producer Urb Beats and Summer the Kid handling production duties. Like any great rap group, each member’s flow worked well for the beats chosen but each had their own distinguishable unique way of handling the beat. These young dudes had cool lyrics and chill but thumping production exemplified in 2X. A lot of people took notice of Wax Society as the Arizona Hip Hop Awards nominated the collective for Best New Group and they received co-signs from Tino Cochino and Bootleg Kev.
The Society of Invisibles – Watching You
TSOI was Arizona’s Wu-Tang. The group was huge and each came from a different situation before linking up as a massive collective. The crew was signed to BabyGrande Records and even went on a national tour. They seemed to have it all together as well, as their marketing campaign included a distinguishable single eye symbol that was placed on everything. Watching You perfectly indicates the type of intense music this crew was making that is reminiscent of Jedi Mind Tricks and the aforementioned Clan.
Morse Code – Why Wait for Science
I remember going to the Green Room in Tempe for a show with Del the Funky Homosapien and Casual. Opening for the Hiero duo was Drunken Immortals, local legends even at the time, and Morse Code. I had never heard of Morse but after that night, I would never forget them. The crew featured two or three djs at the time – Pickster One and Jimi the Mantis Claw – and one emcee, a man called Ruski. That night their unique sound, and unique but incredible set up would impress the fuck out of me. But Ruski was the star. He had flow, fast or slow, and tons of charisma. Collectively though, I hadn’t heard anybody in hip hop put together the multiple djs making a beat with a rapper flowing over it quite like Morse Code that night. This song sums up the groups sound and Ruski’s dexterity on the mic.
Drunken Immortals – Desert Music
At that time, hip hop groups that were big had live bands. It was a novel idea at the time. And it made for a huge sound. Drunken Immortals had two emcees who could handle that sound in Mic Cause and Brad B. For a moment in time, they were one of the biggest hip hop group in Arizona. The seven members including a live drummer and dj Pickster One knew how to rock the party. The aforementioned Green Room show, they came out after Morse Code and continued to whip the small room overlooking ASU into a frenzy. Del and Casual finished it off nicely, by the way. Plus, Drunken Immortals get bonus points for capturing the Arizona scene with the track Blowop Freestyle AZ Hip Hop Community on the Face the Music album.
Pokafase – Me and the Mic
Pokafase should be given so many props for sticking with hip hop. He was signed to Artist Direct and then no longer on a record label, he was labeled the best thing in Arizona hip hop and then forgotten, and he created a collective who should’ve blown up based on the talent involved. When none of those things worked out, he turned to radio and made a career out of that. Which is dope because the dude was a very hard working emcee. On Me and the Mic, Pokafase is right at home in his best position – just him and the mic doing what he does best - spitting bars on top of bars.
Mr. Miranda – Keys to Success
Mr. Miranda is like the Ric Flair of Arizona hip hop - full of personality, with a ton of strong work ethic, and an ability to stick to what’s kept him relevant (his lyricism for one). On Keys to Success, he showcases his witty and thoughtful lyricism. It’s a song indicative of the fact that he’s an old soul emcee. His sound is cut from the same cloth of as Common, Tribe, and Lord Finesse.
Young Ridah feat. Rich Rico and The Hoodlum – Find Me in the Hood
Most gangsta rap isn’t what I’m into but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Arizona has definitely produced a bunch of these dudes. And Young Ridah is probably the cream of the crop. His tracks all put up huge numbers. Find Me in the Hood is indicative of that sound. He and his crew, Border Gang, know exactly who they are and so they are consistent in their efforts. Plus who reps Maryvale harder??
Atllas – Hood Famous
You ask anyone who’s around who is one of the best emcees ever to come from Phoenix and Atllas would be on every single list. On his debut album, he dubbed himself the King of AZ and he wasn’t lying. Lyrically, he was royalty. He appeared on MTV and possibly got signed to Rawkus Records. He opened for nearly every national act that came through. At the time, his flow was unequaled. It’s too bad he was only Hood Famous cause he should’ve blown up. But it just goes to show that coming out of Arizona, unparalleled skills wouldn’t always get you a national forum unfortunately.
Roqy Ty’Raid – Break Shit
Real quick, Roqy is the third member of the Writer’s Guild to be featured in this list. That was a talented bunch who came together to unify different areas of Phoenix hip hop and take the power back as the artists should control their narrative. It’s fortunate for us that most of them are still making music. Now, Break Stuff may not be atypical RoQy but it’s pretty much Arizona’s Ante Up.