Quince / Sea of Streetlights / Cowboy Rap


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:





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

Poetry Month


shes a poem

In case you weren’t there, (the Come as You are Ball, where else?) this is what it felt like:

Electric Snake Charming

(the limelight is a spinning mosaic tonight)

(you know that some part of your heart
Is made of music-feeling-fibers
You can activate if you concentrate
Real hard)


The DJ uses a machine
As a snake charmer, & electrically,
Scientifically, she turns to a twin tailed viper.
A rhythm slithering leather leviathan, skin reptilian
Stretching plates of grey-scale Vogue covers,

              Back & forth, back, back & forth another cobra
Hisses hits & misses to me,
Only the forked tongue, oh, only- the forked tongue
Sputters out a tulip
Dirty Dancing:

(the rose on a mafioso’s tuxedo)
It was all,
“you can be anything you feel like,
For one night,

                      & everyone said, naked;
“yeah we brought costumes,
Glad I could make it but to night
Ill be myself cause I shapeshift

snakes shedding layers theymakebelieve every day
Making sure our thinking is always inside the box
Magazine faces became masks and acted like real people acting like real people

release Souls, they’re fragile as the edge of extra yellow petal lilies on a sunny day

feel me?
Its like mostofthetime mymind is twistedsideways;
Facilitatinginspection from youreyes.
feel me?


April is national Poetry Month! Also, the Come as You Are Ball was simply indescribable through normal language, so this was the best fit. If you were there, you’d understand (I hope.)

Special thanks to Archie Burnett for puttin’ in work these past 2 weeks for ASU’s urban program. The film screening on Monday, the social-roles discussion last Wednesday, and the Ball were all a blast and each event was enlightening! Much love from AZ Archie!

Present at the round-table discussion last week, (we were actually sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on a dance floor) poet Joy Young lent us all a hand to elevate the topic. Here’s a performance of her’s, ‘cause everyone was curious!

Joy Young lives her poetical life in Phoenix, Arizona. If you’re lucky, you can catch her around microphones all over the city. She’s super down to Earth, so snap & say hello!

Cyphers, a keystone for Hip Hop in the valley, has found a new location in the Phoenix Center for the Arts in downtown! The grand re-opening celebration is planned for Friday, 5/2, starting at 6p.m.

All the elements of Hip Hop will be celebrated at the grand opening, so whatever you do; bring it downtown on May 2nd. Save the date!

  • A cypher is a creative circle that allows for energy to flow between the artists so they can build off one another.
  • Hip Hop was born from the energy in cyphers, and all that stuff you see on TV began as friends goofing and having fun in a cypher. Whether it’s for breaking, or dancing in general, or droppin’ bars on a mic, a cypher is the best way to hone your skills & learn from others. Plus it’s a chance to show your friends your maniacal moves. Cyphers is surely the best place to catch a cypher, so definitely support the Hip Hop movement in Phoenix by coming out!

Keep the Hands High


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.


      • • 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!


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



We Might End up Somewhere in Mexico (vaudevillians)


We Might End up Somewhere in Mexico (Vaudevillians)

Ed Mells - Colorado Forms

Ed Mells – Colorado Forms

            Learning something new, moving your body in a new way, & meeting new people are all a big part of urban at ASU. Last Friday’s (3/7) workshop had the janitors in the hallways of PEBE East grooving to Beyoncé (I saw them!) & trying to get Anton Smith’s choreography down. The man’s infectious energy, coupled with a laugh that could make Adolf Hitler crack a smile, made for a refreshing, heart-cleansing dance workshop. Everyone felt just a little closer to themselves, and more comfortable communicating with any rhythm, NOT just Beyoncé. The man has been out of sight since relocating to Mexico City to explore life and grow as an artist, but was happy to spend time with us at ASU and to teach us a thing or two, as well as sit down with yours truly to talk about how many suit cases of purely clothes is appropriate for international travel (not 3, Anton), drinking black coffee as a refreshment after instructing a dance class (at 11 p.m.), as well as being a living lesson in following your heart & not being afraid to carve your own path in life. We all really enjoyed Anton, & it’s impossible to not learn something or laugh when you spend a minute with him. Get the experience for yourself by reading on:

Anton wanders like a cowboy

Anton wanders like a cowboy

            Born & raised in Philly, Anton Smith started dancing seriously in his teens & throughout high school. After graduating, he joined the army out of curiosity to see the world, keeping the love of movement close to his heart wherever he went.

            After 3 years of service & getting the chance to experience many different states as well as different countries, Anton decided that the military was not for him. He had fallen in love with Arizona during his soldier days and had decided to come here to study fine art & dance at the University of Arizona, embracing his artistic side. The University did not offer any classes in hip hop or house dance, his roots as a dancer. Anton decided to take the initiative, & created a Hip Hop course for dancers who want to embrace their inner funk. This was all during his junior year in undergrad. The Pima County Education peoples watched an exhibition he choreographed with his students, & welcomed the class into the University. After a few years, this program evolved into his own professional choreography group, the Human Project. This collective travelled the world, from Brazil to Canada, all over the ‘States, & hopped over to Europe. The Human Project continued to perform in Arizona & everywhere else for around 10 years, leaving a profound impact on Hip Hop & dance in general in Tucson.


            After a decade of teaching, choreographing brand new performances, and travelling the globe, Anton felt the desire for new artistic horizons again. He officially ended the Human Project around 2003, when he decided to focus on his other artistic talents, writing poetry, singing, rapping, and producing music. Anton said the transition from ‘8 hours a day on the dance floor to 8 hours a day in the recording studio’ left him a more disciplined, wiser artist. Of course there was no way he could simply forget dancing, as finding a new passion (especially mediums so interrelated) can help rekindle original ones.

            The change of pace in his artistic life required a change of scenery as well, as Anton said goodbye to his belongings to live a little more nomadically South of the Border. He parted with (most) of his material possessions, saying it felt cleansing and enlightening. Anton treats life like the adventure that it truly is & should be recognized as. Living in Mexico City is far from country-side soul searching, but the new culture & language are enough to get you out of your shell. “Being a foreigner & learning Spanish kinda force you to forget your self-consciousness. You can’t be afraid to mess up, or else you won’t go anywhere or learn anything, or meet anyone!… It’s just like dancing.”

            Anton is busy these days south of Sonora teaching & learning a new language. He is writing verses of poetry & songs, producing his own Hip Hop and original tracks, He also writes choreography for any song he makes & plans on performing. You may have seen him by the Greenhaus in Downtown Phoenix  Saturday (3/8), rapping, dancing, & singing for some entranced Phoenicians. He is teaching in Mexico as well as performing as much as possible. He is also translating his English works into Spanish, for another culture to enjoy & share in.

            Anton plans to continue travelling & following his heart, enriching the lives of his students, friends, & lucky audiences. We were happy to have him at our open session & are sending much love his way at ASU.

Anton called his style neo burlesque, vaudeville, classy s***

Anton called his style neo burlesque, vaudeville, classy s***


She’s a Brickhowwwse!


She’s a Brick… howwse.. She’s mighty might-aaay!


Greetings from the City of the Burning Sun, people of the internet. Today I am busy doing yoga & drinking hibiscus tea in preparation for next week’s Open Sesh. I need my creative chakras to be fully flowing for the musical, visual, and physical work of art the Urban Arts Club is making next Friday (2/21) in FAC 28, Tempe Campus. Come share your area of expertise with us and add to the collective inspiration (:. An open microphone will be ready for all the sophisticated poets out there, as well as space-age Ipad Instruments, & not-so-space-age instruments, with a dance floor full of ASU’s finest. Show love.

Junious Brickhouse will be there, as the Open Sesh follows the workshop he will be leading earlier that evening. This dude moves like water. Flowing over a cliff. On the Moon. Check it out:

Don’t miss the chance to work on your steps with this guy. He won’t teach us how to dress that freshly, but hey, we can’t supply you with everything.



  • Learning a thing or two from Brickhouse & then teaching everyone else a thing or two in the open session will only cost you 7$. Come on, it’s worth it. It’s good for your soul. (I’ll be there, and I recently paid the lady at Fedex two quarters & an old fortune cookie to print an essay for class). I wish that was a joke, really. This is all happening 2/21, in the Nelson Fine Arts Center, FAC 28 (ASU – Tempe).
  • As part of ASU’s Night of the Open Door, half of Phonetic Spit Myrlin Hepworth will be hosting a poetry slam March 1, at 6pm. He is representing the power of the spoken word and the written verse in an event mostly advertised for its science-based activities, so make sure you show up and let the University know that art & poetry is just as essential to the mind as science & mathematics. The Night of the Open Door is the evening of March 1, at Memorial Union on ASU’s Tempe Campus. It’ll be dope & inspiring!

Well, that’s all for this weekend mi amigos. Enjoy some of the fresh paint on our walls around the valley:


Starwars Raids you guys!!

Starwars Raids you guys!!

The Music Drug

The Music Drug


The Tale of Toogie



The Tale of Toogie


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 (:



& 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)


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.


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)


Lovely faces at Toogies Workshop

Lovely faces at Toogies Workshop