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

The King of Hearts

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~Shout out to my grandma who said this blog is great! Thanks grand mama!

 

Feed your Mind this week

Feed your Mind this week

 


You’ve all got a packed schedule this week, & guess whose filling in your calendar? Read on (:


Monday (4/14) – It’s all Archie this week, urbanites. Check Your Body at the Door, Archie’s artful documentary (over two, scratch that, three decades in the making) will be shown tonight in PEBE East (right in the lobby y’all), starting at 8 pm. Fill your backpack with candy, sit back, & relax with us all & absorb the knowledge!

Wednesday (4/16) – A discussion panel, following “To the Grind”—(Adriano Cabral’s piece that delves into social definitions, specifically sexuality & gender, & what we feel is “normal” in our day to day reality). The panel will be a probably not-too-formal yet very enlightening conversation along those topics. ASU professors will be sittin’ in the chairs! Free your mind at PEBE East, (room 132) at 7-10 p.m.


& if you aren’t already a completely different person at this point, the Come as You Are Ball will be smashing down the walls of PEBE East on this Friday. I don’t know if I can handle this one you guys. Bring 5-hour energy & your best friend. Archie Burnett, ASU’s resident artist these past couple weeks, will be hosting the party!


comeasyouare

Artist Profile – Archie Burnett

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“Check your body at the door, so your spirit can be free!”
Archie Burnett began dancing at age 3, watching Soul Train & learning from James Brown. His family, Seventh Day Adventists, did not approve of dancing or other aspects of popular culture, so his innate, 3-year-old love for music had to be sort of a secret from the beginning.

soultrain-1

Consequentially, it was a long while before Archie could go out & experience dancing in the real world, in his case, the clubs in Brooklyn. He told me he didn’t get the chance to go out until after he had gotten his first job, an usher in a movie theater, where the late hours allowed him to stay out a few extra and spend them how he wanted without suspicion.

(Queue scene of Archie Burnett dancing down halls of empty theatre at midnight, broom partner in hand, about to tear the clubs up.)


He told me “where there’s a need, you will find something to fulfill it.” It is easy to imagine the hole in one’s life when dancing is what you love but the only thing you can’t have. So Archie soon became nocturnal, spending his nights in rhythms and his days well-behaved.

I asked Archie for advice regarding artists such as himself, & following your dreams when they go against your circumstances or situation. Guru Burnett told me “don’t worry where you’ll end up, just have a direction. Follow the love & the passion in your life but don’t worry about meeting some specific destination.” Word. Archie’s wisdom reigns true for all artists out there!

Check Yourself

ccheckIn college, Archie teamed up with his professor & the two began work on Check your Body at the Door. The documentary examines how artists in the New York House scene maintain their outside lives, and how they balance what they love in their lifestyle. Definitely intriguing for people of any passion! Their study of House dancing and the life of its aficionados has spanned across three decades, watching the growth and evolution of an art form through generations.

Roll with the Punches, Laugh at the facts

Archie will continue following his direction, the rhythm of good music. He continues to teach his groove to people all across the world. After his couple of weeks at ASU he is taking the globe by storm, touring across Europe and into Asia. Don’t forget us Archie!

Mr. Burnett told me balance was the key to life. If you do too much of one thing, you’ll go crazy. If you don’t do enough of another, you’ll go crazy. That goes for all of us, as we struggle to balance passion with making a paycheck. “Roll with the punches. Accept what comes in life with an open mind, but delete the bullshit. Keep your balance, and keep it simple stupid!”

check

Archie Burnett will be at the panel discussion this week and will be running the show at the Come as You Are Ball. Don’t miss your chance to learn from his worldly brain! Thank you for inspiring us all to follow our hearts & giving us the knowledge necessary! That’s a rap folks. The man will be in the country till the weekend, so get your fill of the wisdom and charm!

AZ MC Countdown

yuh

The valley is full of talented microphone commanding poets, & hardly anyone knows it! Here’s a compiled list of focused dopeness (these guys got the magic like hocus pocus! Okay.. sorry.):

1) Lord Kash & ZeeDubb (of the Stakes); double timed fury over live instrumentation, with tell-tale influences from 30’s jazz to 2pac to slow ballads. These emcees and their band probably get compared to the Roots a lot, but I’m not doing it here! Check out the Stakes for a fresh sound, for a fresh breath in Hip Hop.

2) Mav of Sol Camp; the man has been putting in verses & killin it with several groups over the years, always bringing something genuine & new. Originally from California, Mav has been representing Phoenix since he settled here & made a home in the sun. His group Sol Camp is currently working on their first full length album, which will surely go down as a classic!

3) Myrlin (Phonetic Spit); His mixtape The Funky Autopsy covers a lot of ground. Every song is distinct & different with a different emotion behind it. So real & in tune & in time, it’s the best mixtape I’ve heard around these parts, ever. (really)

Yarmosky_soldier_boy

4) Ill Al (the Anglo Saxon); another really unique emcee, born & raised in Phoenix. The dude’s got a really good sense for melody in his lyrics, with an original flow the listener truly gets swept into. His lyrics also touch on subjects with perfect clarity that a lot of other rappers usually struggle to convey in their rhymes. Props for putting together 4 mixtapes & showing the world how it’s done down here!

5) Kanon of NewBreedz; a master of the flow! One minute the man is chopping syllables like he’s Kendrick Lamar in perfect rhythm and next thing you know, his flow flooded into full singing. A lot of variety in his subjects as well, & a badass dancer too. Keep holdin’ it down Kanon!

Art!: southwestwar&peace light

latin dragon consumer

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

Wisdom

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Wisdom

It's all about Perception this week (this is by Jake Messing)

It’s all about Perception this week (this is by Jake Messing)

This past week was mind-blowing, urbanites. Last week’s resident artist Brickhouse, (of Urban Artistry), dropped heavy knowledge for ASU’s urban program, teaching us all what it means to be an artist, teacher, as well as an ever-learning student of all art forms. Urban Sol is nearly upon us, and soon after that, the Come as You Are Ball will be pummeling the walls of ASU with emanating bass. More details of those below. All my Arizonans, natives, students, and snowbirds alike, are aware of the immature and close-minded bill making its way passed our uncaring representatives. Keep reading if you want the opportunity to throw a fist in the air and let the Governess know how you feel. Oh yes; this article is chock-full of philosophy, politics, important upcoming events, & of course, pretty pictures. (:

Brickhouse & Urban Artistry

Last Friday night I had the opportunity to sit down with guest artist Brickhouse and nerd-out about art, dance, and life for a while. The gentleman had plenty of wisdom to share about his experiences with his foundation, Urban Artistry, and how they have watered the roots of urban culture. These people are all about embracing the heritage of this culture, educating the current generation, and making sure this art moves in the right, positive direction. Like a b-boy in the 80’s, let me break it down for you:

Urban Artistry Timeline: (study this hard, urbanites)

PAST-

  • ·         Urban Artistry has won Juste Debout twice (compliments to dancer’s Toya & Latasha) and will continue to compete and represent the good ol’ You Es of Ay in this world-wide urban dance competition.
  • ·         Urban Artistry began teaching in 2005 – originally to all adults, already experienced in house, hip hop, popping, locking, etc. It took a little while for the younger generations to realize the opportunity education can provide and the massive strength your art can gain when the artist knows their history.
  • ·         In addition to travelling all over the world, spreading knowledge and establishing urban dance in cities in Africa & Europe, Urban Artistry has performed at the Kennedy Center & the Smithsonian in D.C. (prestige, y’all!)

PRESENT-

  • ·         The House That Jack Built” workshops & lectures teach the youngin’s all about how this thing called “urban culture” began and what it means to be a part of it. These workshops are a positive opportunity for kids (& adults alike) in the D.C. area to get to know one another, to build a community, and strengthen ties within the art. Urban Artistry is a driving force in the continual spread of House dance, as well as helping house dance & urban styles become recognized as the true American art forms they are.
  • ·         Urban Artistry recently began operating as a non-profit organization, signifying their now established connection with and importance to the community.
  • ·         Urban Artistry continues to work extremely hard in pushing house dance & hip hop in the right direction. They teach in cities across the globe that have sprouted their own urban communities, that often have much in common with what we’re doing here in the States.

FUTURE-

  • ·         When asked about the future of Urban Artistry, Brickhouse looked me dead in the eye and told me they literally did not have time to write down goals. They will continue to practice their art, translate it to outsiders, welcome in newcomers, as well as teach the world to move and keep learning themselves. Urban Artistry plans to establish house & urban styles within academia (go ASU!) as well as for the history books.

Much love to Urban Artistry & Brickhouse for blessing the Southwest with his knowledge!

keep it rollin' Urban Artistry

keep it rollin’ Urban Artistry

            See what you can learn at these workshops & open sessions, urbanites? The next one is this Friday night (2/28), in FAC 28, led by Coflo at 9 p.m. 7 bucks for both events, or 5 for one, you know the deal! You could drop Carlton in on one of these nights and he’ll come out moving like Michael Jackson. This week’s guest artist, Coflo, is a hip hop producer, dancer, capoeira-warrior, and musician, so there will without a doubt be SOMETHING to learn! Don’t miss it.

And it’s that time again, friends. My favorite duty as artsy intern, WHAT’S GOING DOWN?

Y’allreadyknow; Urban Sol festival is fast approaching. Hip hop will conquer ASU’s Tempe campus the evening of April 4th, giving all our b-boys & girls, graffers & taggers, DJ’s & scratchers, MC’s, poets, & rappers a chance to shine bright. Just announced: Newbreedz will rock the mic, providing all the goosebumps and god-damn’s for the night. More artists are planned; stay in tune (:

Urban Sol (ASU, Galvin Playhouse)

Urban Sol (ASU, Galvin Playhouse)

The Come as You Are Ball (April 18th) is also on our horizons. Hosted by Archie Burnett, this event will be runway show, dance competition, royal ball, as well as jungle-wild party all colliding into one helluva night. Primarily voguing and waacking artists, there’s gonna be a lot of flavor and attitude in the air. You’re probably going to witness things here that you will never see again in your life (: This event is all about broadening the definition of hip hop dance, in  that what we see in movies & what is portrayed in the media is not at all the beginning and end of Urban styles. The Come as You Are Ball will feature voguing & waacking and will be providing a space for these new forms to practice and be enjoyed, but the real ideal is to push the boundary on what hip hop/urban styles have to look like. Come as You Are, don’t restrict yourself to other people’s definitions (:

VogueFunk (Archie Burnett)

VogueFunk (Archie Burnett)

On that socio-cultural note (still with me?), The Ball is serendipitously the same week as Gay Pride. Let’s open our minds up Arizonans; there will be a gender studies panel taking place around this time that will be announced towards the end of March. All this talk of what is right, what’s wrong, what’s hip hop & what’s not, reminds me that we’re all just chimps on a rock in outer space (if you really think about it) & there’s no reason to treat another living breathing human being differently because of some fake division between us. Keep this in mind as 1062 faces approval or repeal this Friday (2/28). If the right to discriminate on religious grounds doesn’t sound like it should be a right, or has anything to do with loving religion, then feel free to join the protest happening at the State capital building, in downtown Phoenix, 9pm Wednesday night (2/26). Protesting is patriotic!

            & that’s some real wisdom for you, readers. You’ve earned these beautiful pictures this week:

Lips

Lips

Jazz

Jazz

Grass

Grass

She’s a Brickhowwwse!

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

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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.

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cultureclash

  • 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:

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Starwars Raids you guys!!

Starwars Raids you guys!!

The Music Drug

The Music Drug

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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

News from the Front (SAVE Cyphers Report)

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News from the Front (SAVE Cyphers)

I couldn’t help but recall the image of a battleground, watching the sweat hit the floor in the reflections of the mirror-wall at Cyphers Center for Urban Art.

The canal rippled with the shockwaves of the 200+ locals gathered to celebrate the 2 year anniversary of the studio. I stood by, amazed, watching what could only be described as bottled fury being released from AZ Krump, Cypher Squad, Drop Beat Kids, and others taking center floor. It was something close to a riot, (but all in the name of passionate art). I could feel an extra ounce of energy behind every movement. The idea that this place is closing soon did nothing but hyper-charge the performances. Each dancer existed only in those split moments between the beat, giving it everything they had in them, with the addition of their very spirit that is normally beyond the use of ordinary athletes.

I got a lucky chance to talk with House Magana, owner of Cyphers, (with Skooby Morales, of course) hip-hop veteran and black belt in breaking, about the story behind the studio, some golden moments from the past 2 years, and plans for the future:

House (who has been dancing for longer than I’ve been alive) is originally from Mexico City, moved to Chicago, and finally settled down in the Valley in the 2000’s. Not surprisingly, there were no hip hop studios in his area (near MetroCenter), and his soul was itching for movement. Along with partner Skooby Morales, they jumped on the opportunity to rent out the space for what would soon be Cyphers. The room was originally an MMA gym (quite fitting), and then a record shop, so it makes sense in sort of a heavenly-logic sort of way that a hip hop studio would come next.

scratchin

Cyphers opened its doors in 2011, with what was initially a good response from the community. Kids curious about the pounding bass emanating from the building would wander inside and be captivated by what they had previously only seen in movies. The first few months were no doubt an exciting time for House, Scooby, and the neighborhood.

The original goal was to operate as a non-profit, for Cyphers to exist purely for the good of the locals. Of course, this is quite a difficult thing to achieve at such a location in these times. It took several months before the center could decide on monthly rates, but with the help of volunteers and the constant influx of newcomers, Cyphers was able to offer free programs for schools, in public spaces, and put on special events fairly often. What started as a dream for House & Skooby soon grew to be a cherished corner of Phoenix, by all who had seen what their hard work was amounting to. Their reputation began to grow as a serious studio where kids of all walks of life could enrich their lives with the passion & culture of Hip Hop.

One such local was Graffiti artist (now intern and assistant Graff instructor at Cyphers), Trublz. I spoke briefly with Trublz about his introduction to graffiti and how he came to be involved with Cyphers. Trublz said he fell in love with the colors of graffin’ as a freshman in high school. He said he was attracted to Cyphers because of the graffiti letters on the front entrance, marking Cyphers as a stronghold of youth culture against the burning Phoenix sun. He took the opportunity available to him & soon became steeped in Hip Hop. House & Skooby digged his artwork (which he had been practicing for years at this point) and let him intern as assistant instructor for a Graff Class offered by the center.

Trublz said the chance to practice regularly (& legally) with spray paint at Cyphers helped him grow immensely as an artist. The Center had allowed him to perfect his lines and also spread his passion to other local kids who wanted to try their hands on the cans.

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Graff workshop !

Graff workshop !

Part of the beauty of Cyphers is that it plants the seeds of Hip Hop in our valley’s youth. Trublz said he plans to be a full time teacher in the future and will continue to do Graffiti art as long as life will allow. House spoke to this concept as part of the reason of why he loves what he does so much. Kids come to Cyphers to learn Hip Hop, ingrain it into their identity, and then take it as their own and spread it in their own way to the world. This growth of culture & art is essential to the health of our community and kids. Shout out to Trublz. (do your thang man)

Within the 2 years of its foundation, I asked House about some special times, favorite memories, and “golden” moments of learning. What he told me spoke volumes of the power of Hip Hop:

Cyphers was the first place one student went to after learning that his mother had passed away of cancer. The peace & comfort he gained from his connection to Cyphers goes light years beyond love. I could sense that this is exactly what House meant when he told me that Cyphers is a home to outsiders, where anyone is accepted, and a real community is formed.

House’s favorite memories of Cyphers include watching his younger students grow and develop as artists, find passion, and experience life in a brand new way. He loved watching his students gain self-confidence and learn to believe in themselves regardless of the outside world. There is no substitute for such a place in our community, this is absolutely essential.

Halfway through our conversation, I realized it was wrong of me to talk like this was the end of Cyphers. Something that meant so much to everyone involved would surely be immortal in the hearts of its students. They would remember this place for the rest of their lives as something that saved them from the Arizona Dust.

the first dance class of today, before the event began.

the first dance class of today, before the event began.

Asking about the future of Cyphers, today was indeed not the end at all. House & Skooby have already secured a new location at the Phoenix Center of the Arts, as the 7th program added to their roster. The duo has formed a good relationship with the center and there is talk of Cyphers as finally being able to operate as a full nonprofit.

I was inspired by how House & his Cyphers army had flipped the tragedy of ridiculous rent into a positive situation. Their new location downtown is more accessible to those without a car & will be a more suiting space to accommodate all forms of Hip Hop. Come March, the light rail will be packed with Bboys & girls, Graffers, DJ’s and MC’s, as well as anyone curious about what all the racket is about in the Center of the Arts.

Throughout our talk, I could sense that House is not the type to worry. He has learned to roll with the punches, deal with the stress, and flip anything to his advantage, for all of our benefit. What started as a dream shared by two, has formed a solid foundation in the heart of the Valley’s Youth, and become a dream shared by hundreds (& counting). I told House that there is no way he can fail now. He has himself an army of kids who love what they have learned at Cyphers and will follow him no matter where they relocate. Much Love to House, Skooby, & all the instructors and volunteers who bleed, sweat, and no doubt shed plenty of tears to make a dream come to life. Coming from a local kid, you guys are making this city a much better place to live and grow up in for everyone involved. You have given chances to those who otherwise would have none, made leaders of those who would be following a rough path in our desert. Stay up Cyphers.

This place was packed later that night. There are no words for the energy that was in the air.

This place was packed later that night. There are no words for the energy that was in the air.

Niko Popovich