The much celebrated and often controversial* Arizona Hip Hop Festival is back. This years installment is packed with artists to see, so here are the ones I’m most excited about.
King of AZ. Don’t @ me. The rapper has spent the last year filling venues across the US and in Japan. He’s spit rhymes on TMZ about talk show hosts and appeared on Smackdown with the New Day. His shine is basically brighter than a championship belt. He’s also released a ton of new material from the Extra Credit album (feature from Sisqo of Thong Song fame!?!) to the Notorious RAN mixtape. His stage show and freestyles are notoriously dope making him a must see at the Fest.
Two things that must be celebrated are skill and hard work. Benji provides both. He’s released or been featured on like 11 videos this year, the We Will Win tape, and recorded a handful of features. The dude has definitely been active. Couple this work ethic with a smooth as silk style and the package is complete. Plus his live show is wild full of energy.
Trap House has always been put up there with the best AZ had to offer. Then this year, the emcee went worldwide viral with the Oxygen to Fly song written by 17-year-old Isaiah, who is unable to speak, and performed by Trap House. It wasn’t gimmicky at all. It was as dope in its sound as it was inspirational in its story. Seeing Trap House at this year's Fest is a celebration to the good things people can do and the dope, talented individuals who do them.
Jalopy Bungus/20 Pounds
Young dude with a elder statesmen's hustle. Check. Lyrically gifted. Check. Writes fresh songs. Check. Show promoter. Check. Jalopy and his crew 20 Pounds have been doing it since the day they released the name. It’s no surprise, based on the talent and hustle this crew possesses, that they’ve sold out shows and built the following they have. Jalopy’s 2 Thingz 4 Certain is quite possibly one of the best albums released this year. If you want to know about one of the groups who represent the future and present of AZ Hip Hop look no further.
Chalease has this style like Left Eye and an infectious smile. From her live videos on her Youtube, the smile comes out as well as an energetic, upbeat live show. She released the video for Brown Sugar this year, which was called “sensual and sultry” by the Source. But it’s tracks like Hold the City, I Want You (remix) and Ain’t Like Them Other Chicks that I go for. Those three tracks exemplify the confident, fun spitta Chalease is at times.
De La Preme
Come on man. Have you not seen a De La Preme show….and you live in Arizona?!?? No cliche - stop sleeping. This man combines the dopest delivery with a lit from the first beat live show. He’s almost broken floors at shows from people going wild. No lie the man is at peak game when he’s performing. So if you’re at the Arizona Hip Hop Fest and you want to see someone who can very well produce the most best show of the day, go see Preme.
Cruise & Loh
Valley Life’s Cruise & Loh are no strangers to dope live shows. The team’s New Wave shows were incredibly packed and bursting at the seams with liveliness. Tracks like Run It Up, Aquafeena, and Super Saiyan are meant to be played live at a show. But I’m ready to see tracks off the duo’s 2017 release Right On Time. It has been one of my favorite albums to bump this year. With so much content to display, though, no matter what they perform, it’ll be a damn good time.
Iroc and Marquel Deljuan
The much discussed in rap circles moment is finally here. So many people have remarked to me about what they’ve heard coming from Marquel Deljuan. Other than the dope track Bills, there hasn’t been much released yet. So this is my opportunity to hear what’s coming from the son of legendary AZ artist and director, Iroc. Iroc brought attention to Phoenix rap with his 1996 release Finally On Tha Map and with the numerous music videos he directed. With so much unknown but a healthy track record, there is a lot to anticipate about this show.
Tucson will be in the building! And this is good news for all of us because these dudes are seasoned professional rhyme spittas who know how to rock a stage. I take nothing from anyone else on this bill when I say this but for real, anytime I’ve seen these dudes or they released tracks/albums/videos, it’s fresh to def. I don’t know what’s in the water down in the southern AZ city but it grows emcees. Jae Tilt’s Years Later Lp was a dope soundscape for a personal and introspective album. Cash Lanky’s the Cool Table provides some of the most head nodding bangers heard in AZ this year. Tommy Will released Napoleon and the Local Rapper video. Both of those projects showcased the honest, raw lyrical content and style Tommy brings. 17 year old Woodro can rap most people’s faces off. Donny Kai’s vasFasi album was a slept on (by me too, sadly), and Jaca Zulu Signals still sounds fresh despite being released a year ago. This is a solid group that helps solidify this as the AZ Hip Hop Fest.
Delly Everyday had a string of dope video and track releases (including My Generation, which is dope on so many levels) and then he disappeared. In August, he returned and dropped Imagine That, a bouncy track with a sick Fugees sample. Having never seen Delly live but digging his music, this is a good opportunity to see if he brings the total package as a rapper.
Let me be the first to admit, I don’t know much about the dude. When Respect the Underground featured his video Vybe on its page, it quickly did 100k views. The track is dope and deserving of attention. I’m waiting for the Fest to see dude’s skills and hear this fresh track live.
I’ve written a lot about Trugang. Collectively and individually these dudes slay. Last year, I wrote about their show at the Fest and said it was lit like the Death Star with a nuclear bomb inside of it. I’ve seen them a hand full of time since and it’s still true today as it was then. These dudes are party rockers. Their show alone is worth the price of admission.
There are other dope rappers and artists on the bill to check. These are just the few I’m most interested in seeing. Come back next week to check my review of the Fest.
*Look I’m not getting into why it’s controversial or discussing my opinions or people’s perception here, despite having them and being aware of them. I could write 20k words just on the DMs I get and the posts and tweets. So I know what you all think and have my own thoughts. But this isn’t about that.