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Portrait by Dead_Painter

"State of the Artz" Show Review

I bring you this review as I fight a pretty tough hangover; while unfortunate for me, is a good indicator that last night’s “State of the Artz” Local Hip Hop showcase at Club Red Owl was a successful one. Headliner Blaine Coffee, was in the building to partake in the celebration of his latest release. With live art provided by The Earwig 22 and Jon Olaiz, I arrived to a decent sized crowd sprinkled with a few prominent members of the Phoenix Hip Hop scene. The vibe and energy of the 18+ crowd lasted throughout the night as a diverse lineup rocked the stage, giving them a wide soundscape to rock too.

Fabled Producer, Arza, provided instrumental production in between sets and while I missed the first two performances by Mystic Blu and Prophetiko, I managed to arrive in time to witness Lord Kash do his thing. As one half of the double fronted group The Stakes the deep-toned emcee rode over grimy breaks with stimulating melodies and intricate revolutionary rhyme patterns, much to the crowds delight. After a brief intermission, female emcee Empress, stepped to the stage to wow the crowd. Heralded as one of the most potent emcees (male or female) in Arizona, Empress lived up to the hype by hitting the audience with storytelling flows over traditional Boom Bap rhythms. Her thought provoking lyrics and ability to work the stage kept the crowd happy and the vibe right.

With a laid back style over a variety of soundscapes ranging from heavy southern 808s to airy cloud rap, I-Dee kept the energy high as he bounded back and forth across the stage. I-Dee provided the most diverse set of night, showing that you cannot pigeonhole the diverse emcee into any one particular lane. Zeedubb, the other lead man of the popular group The Stakes is known for his super lyrical, unorthodox delivery and his set last night definitely lived up to the claim as he rocked over grimy street melodies and hard hitting beats.

Realistic is a fairly well established artist in Phoenix Hip Hop, but he always performs with a sense of urgency, evoking a sense of humility for the craft and last night was no different. It’s refreshing, but unexpected for an emcee at his level. Joined by his partner Mantis, Realistic laced the crowd with soulful beats and straight to the point flows.

Since the show was a little behind schedule, the man of the evening Blaine Coffee, had to hurry through his set before Red Owl shut everything down. Coffee impressed the crowd with his blunt delivery over east coast influenced music. The production sounds like something 50 cent or Fabulous might rap over. Coffee was all smiles as he brought all the performers on stage to join him and Realistic on the last joint bringing the crowd to the feet and high spirit to close the night.

Overall, it was a beautiful night for Arizona Hip Hop. It was great to see support from other local artists, as well a younger crowd. Both are a sign that the Hip Hop scene in Phoenix has come a very long way and if shows like these continue to happen, it has a very bright future.

-Jaron Ikner 

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