The Tucson Hip Hop Festival
A Living Legend and indie hip-hop icon, Murs is set to release his tenth solo album next month (tenth!). His second for Strange Music, Captain California features the advance singles "GBKWS (God Bless Kanye West)" and "Survivor" and finds Murs at peak form. Since his last record, the Tucson resident has broken the Guinness World Record for longest rap marathon, rhyming for 24 hours straight, showcasing more than just endurance, with his versatility and deep reverence for hip-hop classics throughout the years, making for more than just an attention-grabbing gimmick. With his willingness to collaborate broadly, Murs has always been one to test the boundaries of hip-hop, touring relentlessly through smaller and off-the-beaten-path markets, taking more control of the business side of his own career and launching his own (Label 316, which released the collaborative Marley B & Cash Lansky album The Tonite Show). "Music is in a good place now," Murs told the Tucson Weekly back in '11. "The artists are finally in control of their own destiny. That's exciting to me, because that's what I've been preaching for years."
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The latest member of the Tucson hip-hop community to play an album-release party at a jam-packed Club Congress, YNot (Anthony Ardrey) dropped his first solo album, Gifted Mind (featuring production from BV Beats and mixing by Kyle Whitley) in early February this year. From his foundation as an internationally championed battle emcee (he ended 2016 performing in Toronto), YNot has become one of the fastest rising Tucson artists, drawing on a variety of styles, techniques and ideas, blending stories from his own life, from childhood adversity to becoming a father himself at 20. On the 16-track Gifted Mind, tracks like "My City," "Old Friends" and "Whatever The Price" celebrate his roots, artistic determination and the long road he's taken from dreamer to headlining performer.
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"Jabee's music has the potential to change the world," said Chuck D on his radio program and Twitter. With that much of an enthusiastic endorsement from none other than the Public Enemy frontman, Jabee is poised to be one of the breakout emcees of his generation. No shit. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Jabee garnered attention at home and across the country for his 2016 album Black Future, a complex and thought-provoking record that centered on civil rights, political activism and social ills. Jabee has toured with Run The Jewels and Murs and has long been a Tucson favorite, with performances at the Scratch Shack and Club Congress, on bills with locals like Cash Lansky and Jivin' Scientists.
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"Valentine's Day isn't always hugs and kisses. We live in the real world," Jae Tilt says of his brand new Proper1ne-produced track "Heartbreak," which he released just last week. The 24-year-old, Tucson-born MC is prepping his debut album, Years Later, for an April release on Gldn Artist Group. Another newly posted track, "Raindrops" is about finding hope even when going through dark times and finding the calm, peace and new growth that comes after storms pass. His previous release, the Product of 93 EP, showed a stylistic similarity to that golden era of '90s hip-hop, a bit of the boom-bap mixed with some smooth tracks, with lyrics that take a philosophical turn.
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A multi-faceted artist, Chezale is a singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, model and MC, delivering positive and intelligent messages along with a deep and steady groove. Originally from Pittsburgh, Chezale has earned the nickname Lady Maverick for her musical blend of hip-hop, R&B and more, earning comparisons to the likes of Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah. A dance teacher by profession, Chezale's latest recording is the single "Pullin Out Knots," with a video released in January. That follows her 2014 album Mavmuzik, with videos produced for the singles "Hip-Hop Nation," "Vibin" and "Mavvin is a Habit," and her 2007 debut MY STORY... The Making of a Maverick.
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A 16-year-old rapper from Tucson, Woodro nonetheless has experience that belies his age. Steadily working on his craft since age 11, Woodro had a big year in '16, performing his first headlining show at the Scratch Shack in October. Just last year, the prolific rapper released three EPs, five videos and 51 total tracks. His Bloody Sunday EP showcased the chill flow and mad-creative lyrics of this up-and-coming artist. Produced by Eleven Thoughts and dropped on Valentine's Day, Woodro's latest track, "Long Time Coming," is about his devotion to his goals and fighting to reach his potential in the music game: "I paint my verses vividly / The rest of this is history."
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The November release of the nine-track Dear Somebody earned Ez Goin a lot of attention locally. With guests including Tommy Will and Jae Tilt, the album showcased a smooth and mellow style, with head-nod beats and laid-back verses. Ez Goin's growing reputation earned him performances at Scratch Shack, The Rock, The Rialto, Club Congress (sharing bills with headliners like Too Short and Freddie Gibbs). Feelin' 520 at Hot 98.3 featured the video for "Dear Somebody," the title and lead track from his latest, which finds Ez Goin seeking meaningful connections, setting out in pursuit of his art and promising to never turn his back on his dreams.
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TiMWiNN—The Man With No Name—is a beatmaker, MC and scratch DJ whose sound ranges from experimental to funky. Born back East and moved out West, TiMWiNN got his first turntable in 1989 and has been at it since, DJing for the likes of H.O.C., Rude awakening and Mankind. Versatile, innovative and more than a bit out there, TiMWiNN has the vibe of a mad scientist, pushing the buttons on a set of new beats for the Tucson Hip-Hop Festival, with word of a new solo vocal album due later this year.
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On his latest release, Tommy Will re-envisions 50 Cent's "21 Questions," inspired by the "will you still love me?" yearning of the original. But "21 Questions in 2017" (produced by StunnahSez) isn't a retread but a chance for Tommy Will to put his own unique spin on the timeless his-and-hers dynamics that have been are the core of popular music forever. That same vibe rises in the talked-about video for his 2016 track "Too Much," on which Tommy Will teamed up with Blar Productions to give the song a visual treatment that matched the no-love-lost narrative of his verses.
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A 19-year-old producer on the rise in Tucson, Eremsy brings a style that emphasizes deep grooves and some R&B flavor. His beats on Sui Blue's 2016 album Lucky Me brought Eremsy more attention locally. Eremsy got his start filming his cousin freestyling and from there started recording through Audacity before branching out to make his own beats. Drawn to the audio side more than the lyrical side, Eremsy began by posting his own beats, samples and tracks to SoundCloud, where he built a fanbase that connected him with other local artists. Drawing on a wide spectrum of influence, everything from Kid Cudi to Kid A, Eremsy has built a reputation as a boundary-breaking producer.