Hip hop ain't ever gonna die. No matter what corner of the earth you go to there will always be a DJ and an emcee scratching and rhyming. (In addition to the ones who’ll be graf writing and breaking). This fact is certainly the case at the Tempe Tavern. Every Saturday night the Hip Hop House (sponsored by Nomad, Bob Domestic, and Coolin’ Out) features some of the dopest underground rappers Arizona has to offer. And when I say rappers I mean emcees and lyricists - people whose focus are the rhymes.
The other cool thing about the Hip Hop House is it brings out dope national acts. A few weeks ago they had Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and on the night I went they had Coolzey and the Chuckie Campbell Experience from California. Both were ill but different.
Our focus, of course, was the local acts. And just like the national dudes, the lineup was diverse. Because I decided to catch the Diaz/MacGregor fight, I managed to catch Boom Box Bros, The Society of Invisibles, and Blaine Coffee. Each unique from the next because of the style of rap they produce. Again, all are lyricists but their approach is different.
Boom Box Bros from Flagstaff kick a mellow boom bap style. They are traditionalists: two emcees, Mic Hogg and Smallz and one DJ 001. You can catch them kicking back and forth raps and raps that shout out their DJ. And unlike Lil Yachty these guys really know their hip hop history and put on for the culture. They performed a track off their debut album - Adventures in Rhyme Travel - called YOMtvRapCity that mentions everyone from No Limit Records to Atmosphere to Mac Dre to Andre 3000 to Dr. Dre to Big L to Psycho Realm to De La Soul. I think you get it - Boom Box Bros have a song where they literally pay tribute to many of the artists who helped created the platform for them. Respect! They ended with another track off their debut album called The Big One, which has a jazzy piano sample, and as they said it was “sexy” as fuck. It was a hip hop ending for a hip hop type night. Artists like Boom Box Bros who are rapping do so for the love (unfortunately, there is not a lot of money to be made (*fingers crossed someday)). And their love for hip hop showed on the small Tempe Tavern stage as Smallz rapped - “high enough to catch a nose bleed/never chose rhyming, rhyming chose me” and when they sang on the chorus - “we’re writing an rhyming and rapping it up/time after time and we can’t get enough/can’t get enough til our day in the sun/and we’re trying to survive till we get the big one."
The Society of Invisibles came on next and their abilities have been featured here before. This time however in addition to DoneOne, they had Judgment instead of Joey Baggs. Judgment is less aggressive on the mic than Joey which is a nice contrast to DoneOne’s pitbull-type raps. Regardless of who’s rapping, whenever TSOI is on stage, it feels like a tornado ran through the room leaving debris in the wake. They are a physical force of nature.
Blaine Coffee and his dog Cassius Clay took the stage last out of the local dudes. Though people cheered for Cassius when he got up there, Blaine placed the same expectations on his dog that is typically placed on performers. It’s the deal between crowd and emcee - Blaine said let Cassius earn the praise, which I’m sure he meant for himself. And he had no problem earning that praise. Blaine is smooth dude. He raps like the pure spitta lyricists with hooks and bars that are easy to sing along with. For example, on Givamana Fish he spit - “if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for day/but if you teach that man to fish, then he’ll eat for always.” Thought provoking yet lyrically accessible shit that the crowd sang along with no problem. At the same time though, Blaine worked the stage rocking back and forth capturing the crowd’s attention. He’d rap standing straight up looking high over the crowds head and then move forward lean in close with members of the audience and rock like they were the only ones there. It was the performance of someone who could rock any stage - large or small.
Finally, shouts out to Bob Domestic for making an appearance. His medical issues are well-known in the hip hop community and it was great seeing him out and about. The DJs were representing as well. Fact135 held down the turntables and Blesd1 and Kip Killagain were in the crowd. Last but no least, shouts-out to Nomad for putting together the bill and promoting. His love for the music is inspiring. There wasn’t one performer during the night that he didn’t take some time out to rock with. It’s night like these, where you know real hip hop is always going to live despite what people say about it changing and despite what's popular at the moment.
Check out the Hip Hop House every Saturday night at the Tempe Tavern.