Quince / Sea of Streetlights / Cowboy Rap

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The Spanish were looking for the wrong kind of gold

The Spanish were looking for the wrong kind of gold

It’s been quite a semester, urbanites. My job as new-age social scientist, infiltrating the Valley’s hip hop culture, has led me to the heart of art in Phoenix (:

Arizona is so much more than just the bad parts of California! One could never guess at what’s thriving underground, from simply looking at the façade of our ever-stretching suburbia. With so many transplants from more central Hip Hop cities, we have places like Cyphers and Jukebox to teach the history, development, and philosophy of their art along with the sick moves they bring to the desert. We’ve got the foundations solid and native artists here, such as Phonetic Spit, who are taking things in a new, unique direction for our city. But don’t take my word for it:

 

House

House


understanding

All forms of art are essential to the human experience. With no music, no colors, and no dancing this city would descend into the despair of anonymity that so often haunts the newer cities in the country. It’s important, as citizens, to cultivate our own artistic culture in the community. It’s important, as humans, that we interact and share with each other through creative expression. Otherwise, everyone goes crazy. No Bueno. Keep it real Phoenix! I’ll be skipping town while it’s appallingly awfully hot here, but I’ll back in the spring to check back on what’s been growing in our garden. Much love!

Here’s some more from the valley’s finest:

Arizona has a plane graveyard.. might as well make it beautiful and worth visiting?

Arizona has a plane graveyard.. might as well make it beautiful and worth visiting?

lookbeyond the surface in our town!

lookbeyond the surface in our town!

dino cactus peete az

Arizona - Douglas Miles

Arizona – Douglas Miles

Keep the Hands High

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Urban Sol

Urban Sol!

           

Damn, I still can’t get over last Friday. Urban Sol exploded and flared into the night. Cyphers of dancers were grooving long past the point where I was falling asleep, the moon almost below the horizon. It was seriously some controlled chaos at ASU. Urban Sol definitely made Tempe & Hip Hop history as well this weekend. We might have broken a few windows with the beats. Really. Lemme break the night down for you:

  • Furious Styles Crew took home the bacon in the 5-on-5 battles, though every crew gave it everything they had and put on an amazing show. I was seriously blown away by these b-boys & girls. It was intense but it was all fun at the same time, showing true breaking spirit in the aggression but also the respect all dancers had for one another. Unbelievable moments a-plenty. The amount of work and raw passion that obviously went into every crew’s performance was inspiring. Y’all put Hollywood to shame with your moves!
dopeness! Get it Kyle

dopeness! Get it Kyle

  • • Conducting all the madness on the turntables, the winner of the DJ competition was selected in a classic audience-response style. That means screams. DJ Panic succeeded in gaining the most hype, taking home a cool 200$ & some definite bragging rights for beating out local hero DJ Tiger (dude even had his own signature tiger noise!). All four DJ’s of the night kept the energy more live than Frankenstein taking a lightning bolt from Zeus. That’s the only way to describe the music they chose, ranging from old school hip hop, funk, 80’s music (dancin’ with myself, oh oh oh-oh!), all through the 90’s and some stuff so new, not even the trendiest of college kids could keep up!
DJ Panic

DJ Panic

      • • & of course, New Breedz (link), the Urban & Funk ensembles, Juke Kids & everyone else who took the stage blew us all away. The acts of the night covered all 4 corners of Hip Hop, with each act doing their own unique take on their art. Real incredible talent, all around.
      takeflight

      takeflight

      • • The graffiti wall was also signature and unique. Audience members gave away shoes, shirts, sweaters, (one guy brought a clock) amongst other things that were nailed to the canvas and painted on, giving the final piece a three-dimensional aspect. Take a look:

      house house us

@ ASU:


King Charles, of Footworkingz, proclaimed by his city as the monarch of Chicago Footworkin’ at age 14, was our guest artist for the Urban program last week. I attended a class session led by him and left with five new callouses. I left convinced this man had the fastest, most intricate movement even possible for the human body to do.


Chicago Footwork is a high energy, lower-body focused style that is purely unique to the Windy City. King Charles & the Footworkingz are on a mission to spread their passion around the nation & the globe, taking the breath away from their audience at every performance. The dance is usually done to songs at around 180 bpm, so you can imagine the intensity involved. Actually, you can’t. You can only watch and be amazed:


King Charles taught us all about dedication and believing in your artwork. Being the King of anything isn’t easy, so as the leader of his own style of dance King Charles is a living lesson to dancers & all artists to believe in what you have to offer to the world, and to pursue that with everything you got. The amount of sweat this guy gives to his style every day is a testament to what it takes to be a professional chasing their dreams. Keep it movin’ King! Big ups to you & thanks from ASU for the inspiration!

 

Freshy Fresh Archie Burnett

Freshy Fresh Archie Burnett

 

These next two weeks belong to Archie Burnett, true dance veteran & legend from Brooklyn. Archie has spent the past two decades working on a documentary entitled “Check Your Body at the Door,” a study into the lives of New York dancers and how they get by, why they do what they do, & also a striking look at the many different moves seen in his home city.


Archie himself is a guru of dance, a connoisseur of movement & music. Don’t miss the chance to share with him at his workshop the evening of Friday, April 11th. (FAC 28, 5$!) This is also the last workshop of the year, so don’t miss out on the fun!

 

comeasyouare
Archie Burnett is also hosting the aforementioned Come as You Are Ball, on April 18th. This is going to rival Urban Sol as ASU’s Hip Hop event of the year. No doubt it will be a night you will never forget! Tickets are 15$ at the door, but presales can be had for 8$ (here’s your hookup for that presale price y’all, post your name & email & you’ll get the link for half price!)

  • • Love Hip Hop? Of course you do. Deepen your knowledge of the culture at the Check Your Body at the Door film screening! No matter what you’re into, knowing more about a culture you’re unfamiliar with will help your own pursuits.

Even if you’re already a certified Hip Hop head, you’ll definitely learn something new, or at least have a lot of fun (: BE THERE! This is going down in PEBE East, April 14th, at 8 p.m. I’m bringing munchies!

  • • ASU’s Urban Arts Club is also hosting a panel discussion April 16th, PEBE East (room 132) at 7 – 10 pm. We’ll be gettin’ all scholarly; discussing gender & sexuality in art & our society. Get Educated!
Steven Yazzie

Steven Yazzie

This week’s art spot is a focus on Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, a local Phoenician and Tohono O’odham Native American. His style combines graffiti & traditional Native motifs, to create something that’s well, really just indescribable. If you live here, you’ve probably seen his work saving Phoenix from the despair of white-washed monotony downtown. Take a peek at some of his lesser known work:

breeze & sliim

Breeze (shot by PHX New Times)

Breeze (shot by PHX New Times)

breeze & slim

taken by Chris English

taken by Chris English

steven yazzie

steven yazzie

Breeze

Breeze

Halloween in April

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Wild West Hip Hop

Janda
Urban Sol is a-comin’ my people! This Friday (4/4), ASU’s Tempe Campus will be conquered by Hip Hop. The Galvin Playhouse (the Southwest section of campus) will be a beautiful horde of artists, professionals, and students alike breakin’, graffin’, deejayin’, and emceein’. Reunited at last, the four elements of Hip Hop, all in one place at one time, might just spark TOO MUCH magic & dopeness. Ancient Native American spirits will probably rise from the desert and dance with us. The city officials might mistake us for a riot. The retirees out in Sun City will reconsider their quiet, peaceful suburban blocks as Urban Sol echoes through every corner of the Valley. Whether or not the streets are shutdown, this is sure to be a night to remember, so don’t miss out!

Urban Sol is a Free event, but donations will be held for Cyphers (a beloved jewel of breaking & dance in our community) to help them relocate downtown, as well as a fundraiser in support of Jukebox studios, another staple in our artistic life here in Phoenix. Definitely show up and enjoy, but also remember to PARTicipate and do your part for the whole city.

abstractgraffiti
The graphic art portion (graphic art = graffiti.. Urban Sol 101) will be led by b-boy House, of Cypher’s Center of the Arts. Our graffiti installation is a little different this year, as clothes will be incorporated into the canvas and everyone who wishes it can have their swag tinged with tonight. The finished product is most definitely going to be out of the box & something no one’s ever done before, just another reason to do yourself the favor of being a part of all this beauty! Bring one piece of clothing to donate to the art, and one you want back to wear!

frontside
backside

Tomas Stanton (local poet, hippie & thug, ½ of Phonetic Spit) led last Friday’s workshop and open sesh, schoolin’ 20 or 30 ASU students on the art of the Spoken Word. This workshop had real relaxed, personal vibrations throughout & provided a compelling snippet of Phonetic Spit’s unique style of Spoken Word.

Tomas invited his students into the art form by starting with the foundations, showing us some of his secrets of expression. We reached into our hearts through stream-of-consciousness exercises, as Tomas pitched words and ideas, nuances and inflections to bounce off our brains and inspire our souls. “Let your spirit vomit, we’re just goin’ with what comes naturally right now.” We successfully slowed down the breakneck pace of reality and came together from a group of strangers to quickly laughing, thinking, and yes, crying together.

the other 1/2 of Phonetic Spit, Myrlin

the other 1/2 of Phonetic Spit, Myrlin

Tomas’s 3 step breakdown of writing the Truth:


1). Read & Live: “Artists are the best thieves. Nothing is original; we’re all just recycling, improving, or plain stealing ideas from other artists and scientists.” Tomas explained to us right off the bat that reading is essential to refilling that well of inspiration in your mind. Ideas from books and articles can inspire your own work and expand your worldview. Obviously, a nice cache of memories and lived experience is also crucial to the poet, whose function in the world is to show how it really is, really!


2). Write: Phonetic Spit has a unique, accessible style in performances that I feel is mostly due to this writing process. Writing, to Tomas, was mostly getting the raw feelings, the memories, & thoughts into a material form. Tomas emphasized in his workshop that in the initial writing, little to no embellishment is needed. “Fluffy” lines of description or intellectual metaphor is a more cerebral process that can detract from this stage, which is meant to simply get the feelings on paper. Contrasted with my own experience of writing, this technique will keep your poems pure and profound, rooted in the emotion that they were inspired by and not too detached by craftwork.


3) Revise: This is the time to let your mind shine. Tomas uses step 3 to bring in the techniques, the toolbox of expression. Revision to Phonetic Spit is where the raw material, the emotion, gets translated to metaphor & simile, to lines and rhymes and alliteration and assonance, whatever, to bridge your life into your audience’s!


This organization is a fail-safe way to make art out of words. Be sure to catch more intriguing knowledge like this at one of the monthly Phonetic Spit workshops, taking place in the Burton Barr Library, every third Saturday. Always fun and always enlightening, it’s also always free, so be sure to catch the inspiration and meet the people around these parts interested in the same thing.

ARCHIE BURNETT & THE BALL

01ArchieBurnett1


Does the definition of “normal” feel just a little too tight to wear?
Then slip into something more natural!

The Come as You Are Ball is kind of like the best Halloween party you ever went to, minus the Party City plastic but keep the general principle, add a whole lot of Hip Hop, stir in a dash of social change, (bring your own open mind and attitude); and you’ve got the perfect night to forever change your idea of what is “okay” and “normal” to be.


Party with the Urban program the evening of April 18th, in the Physical Education Building – East. (East of Memorial Union).


The Come as You Are Ball will be hosted by master dancer/scholar/weightlifter/teacher/world traveler/graphic artist Archie Burnett. The man’s styles go on & on, but if the words waacking, voguing, feme, posing, & punking, house, or breaking mean something beautiful to you than DO NOT MISS this man’s workshop, to be announced. Even if that last sentence sounded like the recording of a wrestling match to you, don’t miss the chance to experience and learn something new (& what’s more fun than that, really?).

mark ashkenazi JAMES DEAN

The Tale of Toogie

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The Tale of Toogie

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Oh yes. I know it was a long week, urbanites. You’ve been waiting day & night for the interview with artist/philosopher Toogie to be published, & now your patience will be greatly rewarded. Go make some coffee, put on some classical music, & prepare yourself for the wisdom about to slap you in the mind. I shouldn’t spoil the readers so much, I know. Enjoy.

Toogie (Heartbreakerz/Substance Over Hype) was the first guest artist of this semester for the Urban program at ASU. She is a dancer, and a teacher, a world traveler, seamstress, sculptress, and hip hop guru. Make sure you tune in.

 

Our next guest artist will be Junious Brickhouse, who will be teaching his workshop on 2/21. Bring 7 bucks & jump in on the knowledge and the chance to learn from a master at 9 p.m., FAC 28 (ASU Tempe). The workshops are always an enlightening, lively environment and the atmosphere is something you simply cannot find anywhere else on campus. Come learn all the things you don’t get in class!

Smoooooth Jazz

This is what you will feel like at the Open Sessions

The workshop is followed by another 2-hour open session. Bring your creative juices, but leave the shy-bread at home (I’m sorry for that one. I had to.) You can show up & dance in the cyphers, or come jump on the open instruments and jam with us. This is also an open-mic opportunity for anyone who wants to freestyle or has a spoken word piece to share. If you can draw or paint you should come, too. The inspiration will be there, & the more the merrier! (2/21, 7$, FAC 28). Get it? Got it? Write it down. Circle it with a heart on your calendar. Good.

Phoenix-based duo Phonetic Spit will also be teaching another fantastic poetry workshop at the Burton Barr Central Library, Saturday afternoon, on the 15th. Last month, I strolled up the flights of stories in the library not knowing quite what to expect. What I found was a circle of 35-40 kids, busily breaking down the barriers built between them by the unimaginative uniformity forced upon them in our public schools. I contrasted this experience with all the silly college-kid slams I usually attend & was shaken. Everything was down-to-Earth & genuine. No one was trying to be a poet; they just shared their thoughts & impressions on life out here in the desert. Don’t miss it; & do your duty by showing up & showing love (:

Urbanites

Urbanites

& That’s basically what’s going down, Arizona. Go get yourself one of those 100 oz Thirstbusters that we’re so famous for (I’m pretty sure they’re illegal in New York now) and stay cool.

Alleycats & Cellos

Alleycats & Cellos

Horseshoe on a Rabbit Foot (feeling lucky)

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Horseshoe on a Rabbit Foot

photo(10)Happy February! You can feel the vibrations from the city as it snoozes out of the sun’s rays for once. We should let all the kids stay home from school on cloudy days here in Phoenix.

There was definitely some mojo in the air at the Nelson Fine Art Center @ ASU, Tempe Campus last night. The Urban program at ASU brought in featured artist Teresa “Toogie”  Barcelo to share some of her secrets of dance with everybody. Check out some of Toogie’s choreographed pieces, as well as her work with the Heartbreakerz & Substance Over Hype. A truly unique & genuine human being, Toogie gave us all a slice of real life in the basement-level dance studio.

With the lights low, a crowd of 50 students took an hour out of the daily rush to stop and breathe. The workshop began as total relaxation, laying face up on the floor, releasing any pockets of tension. Every fiber, every finger, every toe. Every ligament, every bone.

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Get Free

The dancers who I thought I was getting to know transformed, existing as an instrument with the posture of an amoeba, in the rhythm of a jellyfish. “Abandon any idea, any aesthetic of what you think you should be doing..” Toogie said as she liberated everyone’s minds, with the casualness of someone working their day job. Toogie was a maestro, conducting and directing everyone’s energy (that’s not a metaphor, that was really happening).It was indeed hard not to slip into meditation as Toogie taught everyone from first-timers to hip hop veteran House Magana (see Cyphers) new ways to feel a rhythm. One student remarked that he came to learn to dance, but instead learned how to listen to himself and move accordingly. Hell yeah.

photo(7)Before her workshop, Toogie agreed to have a chat-on-camera with yours truly at UrbanArtsAZ. I intended to talk to her about her life experiences, what she draws on as an artist, how she grew up, etc. (& we did talk about those things!), but the conversation inevitably turned to dinosaurs, the mass production of hip hop, the transience of the human experience, and how cool it is to insert a “z” wherever an “s” is needed in rap. It got pretty real in there. The interview will be up in next week’s page for you lucky, lucky readers, enlighten yourself!

enlighten yourself!

enlighten yourself!

Following the workshop was the first open session hosted by the Urban Arts Club at ASU. A jam session outfitted with electronic instruments & an open dance floor, this event is free, so come and feel the fun creative vibrations. Future open sessions & featured-artist’s workshops are planned as follows:

Junious workshop/session: Friday, Feb 21st 6-9pm. FAC 28
Coflo workshop/session: Friday, Feb 28th 6-8pm FAC 28

Shakeer workshop/open session: Friday, Mar 21st 6-8pm. FAC 28 Archie B workshop/session: Friday, April 11th 6-8pm FAC 28

It’s 7$ to participate in the workshop, but the open sessions are free. The energy was inspiring, y’all.

When he arrives in April, guest artist Archie Burnett will be hosting the Come As You Are ball, which will most definitely raise the roof. The party will be April 18th, on Tempe Campus, inside PEBE EAST. Don’t miss this!

art is the way you see the world

art is the way you see the world

& Of course, as a matter of custom, WHAT’S GOING DOWN?

  • ·         Mark your calendars for ASU’s Urban Sol event coming April 4th. The night will be a riot by the Galvin Playhouse on Tempe Campus. It’s kind of like the renaissance festival of Hip Hop in AZ, boasting a competitive dance battle between 16 teams; all in 5-on-5 rounds (they don’t wear armor but these dancers are warriors), as well as a DJ competition, featuring talent from all parts of the country (as well as DJ Tiger from Power 98.3). Bboy House will be schooling us all in the graffiti workshop, and if that wasn’t enough perpetual dopeness for you, a microphone for MCs and musicians will be rocking.(Kanon of New Breedz will be performing, among other artists TBA). Did I mention everything is free? Yeah, you read that correctly. Urban Sol is completely free, but a donation will be hosted for Cyphers, as well as a fundraiser for Jukebox Studio. The night will be one to remember, so come show love!
  • ·         The beginning of a new month is a time to celebrate for artists here in Arizona! Take every opportunity @ Walk In Wednesdays hosted by the Tempe Center for the Arts, & Open mic night @ Fair Trade Coffee every Monday night. First Fridays too, you guys!

So long for now my friends, but remember:

eyes bright, it seems like the fight is dim in 'em (Common)

eyes bright, it seems like the fight is dim in ’em (Common)

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Lovely faces at Toogies Workshop

Lovely faces at Toogies Workshop

Saguaro Thorns & Microphones

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            Well Hello, & welcome to Urban Arts AZ. This week I have braved frustrated coffee shop owners (they can’t accept that this isn’t the 90’s anymore), broken glass, (and ignored more than a few “trespassing” signs) to present the world with more vibrancy from the heart of Phoenix.

This article will give you lucky art lovers a glimpse of the cultural mosaic of Arizona, as well as news about several new mixtapes being pushed by local hip hop artists. But more of that is to come. First and foremost, I must echo a local tragedy taking place in March:

That is, the closing of Cyphers, our town’s center for all forms of urban art. A dance studio, DJ school, and graffiti haven all rolled into one, this is a tremendous blow to creative culture in Phoenix. The studio has been cherished by younger members as a safe haven from the heat, as well as the trouble to be found among the alleyways and avenues of Phoenix.

Cyphers will forever live on in the hearts of teens who found passion, friendship, and for some, a reason to breathe amongst the mirrors and colorful walls of the studio. The owner of the property has decided to level the building to make room for (ironic drumroll please) another !@#$ing stripmall. Like that is really what our community of at-risk teenagers, artists, and students needs. Good job man. I’ll be sure to throw cartons and cartons of eggs at the pawnshop/taco bell/karate studio/Walgreens franchise pattern that you let move in. (Just kidding. Maybe. Don’t sue me.)

Barbed Wire & Sunflowers (draw your own conclusions)

Barbed Wire & Sunflowers
(draw your own conclusions)

Cyphers is renowned and cherished in the neighborhood for enriching the lives of locals by giving them a passion to pursue, teaching them the culture and art of Hip Hop, and providing a safe, productive way to burn off steam and pent-up energy.

Cuz I don't see any!

Cuz I don’t see any!

 

To commemorate their 2nd anniversary at this location, Cyphers is holding an all-day donation at the center for those who would like to help. There will be hip hop oozing out onto the sidewalk this Saturday (1/25) so be sure to come and shed tears with us as we party together and raise middle fingers to the man. Please show your love and much-appreciated support; feel free to make a donation while you’re at it (:

It’ll be getting wild at 9201 North 29th Avenue, STE #36. The shindig begins at Noon and will be raging until 9 p.m. Show some love! (You’ll probably hear us echoing all throughout the valley, so you might as well show up.)

I was fortunate enough to have a chat with partial owner and dance master House about some of his favorite memories of being a saint to local teens, the story behind Cyphers, hip hop in Arizona, and the future of art in our community; enlighten yourself:

Despite all my ranting at the landlord above, the real blame is on us as the Phoenix community for not supporting this lovely and much-needed community niche. We can all do our part to support beautiful, meaningful business in our town by loving art more. Make that drive downtown. Enroll your kid in that hip hop dance class (it’s so much more engaging, unique, and fun than karate or soccer, and who knows, you could even make a little $$$ yourself if the kiddo gets the moves right.)

 

Yeah Baby!

Yeah Baby!

Heyyo URBANARTSAZ, WHAT’S GOING DOWN?

  • ·         Underground god Talib Kweli (if you don’t know who that is, you’re depriving yourself) will be making a guest appearance in the Memorial Union on ASU’s Tempe Campus, on February 4th, in honor of Black History Month. Knowledge will be dropped. Minds will be rocked. You really don’t want to miss the chance to hear this guy speak. BE THERE.

That’s the MU, (@ASU Tempe), 2/4, 6 p.m.

We’ve also got some brand-spanking-new hip hop to let you know about WAY before your hipster friends hear about it (you’re welcome):

  • ·         Local poet & MC Myrlin has dropped The Funky Autopsy. 17 tracks of Niagara Falls flow, intelligent lyrics, and beautiful cover art, you can download that (and name your own price) via his Bandcamp page. This dude is also ½ of Phoenix-based Phonetic Spit, responsible for spreading the love and value of poetry to our youth who have no other outlets. Definitely show this dude some love.
  • ·         Master rapper and current local crown-holder Eddie Wellz  (responsible for The Speed of Thought) has decided to bless us all with more of that… I don’t even have any witty lines or metaphors to describe this guy’s music (take my word for it. He freestyled for me at school and I nearly pee’d myself). Anyways, Mr. Wellz has prepared his second feast of lyricism in Keep Your Head Up, due for release early next month. There will be a link for its download ASAP. Stay up on it.

That’s all for now my fellow desert rats. Enjoy some more pretty pictures: (I literally bled to snap some of these photos)

Beautiful new Gila mural at the Mark apartments, Tempe

Beautiful new Gila mural at the Mark apartments, Tempe

MLK love

MLK love

Pick your favorite color (:

Pick your favorite color (: