When we threw down the list of Tucson’s 10 most buzzworthy bands, you might have noticed a handful of glaring omissions. We didn’t forget.
The Old Pueblo is proving itself to be a home for hip-hop with innovative events, a bunch of great artists, and its own Tucson Hip Hop Festival (formerly known as the Tucson Hip Hop Summit).
For great hip-hop shows that showcase local and national talent equally, the Scratch Shack is the place to be. Monthly, the city hosts a beat-maker showcase (Pushing Buttons), and there’s even a concert series that takes a select few on a van ride around town while a rapper performs in-vehicle — most notably, Count Bass D made a Rap Van appearance.
So, buckle in and check out some of the best in Tucson hip-hop right now.
[embedded content] 10. Cash Lansky
There’s something so endearing about Cash Lansky’s commitment to his self-prescribed “ugly and gifted” aesthetic. With that mantra, it shows he goes music first, and, with that, you’ll find an almost dizzying drive on each track. It’s not all a barrage of bars, though. On his most recent album, S.E.E., Lansky enlisted producer Jet Taylor to smooth things out. Live, Lansky is backed by Ripdee Musica, creating an unbeatable team of pure energy.
Of course, Phen is a pivotal element of the keystone Tucson hip-hop group Jivin Scientists, who honestly deserve their own spot on the list. However, Phen founding the monthly Pushing Buttons producer showcase, and his standout work as a producer in Tucson in general earns him a spot all on his own. Phen’s producing and recording credits include others on this list, such as Marley B, Cash Lansky, and Lando Chill, as well as Jabee and Marcus Maridox. Basically, you can almost guarantee that if something is happening in Tucson and Phen’s name is on it, it’s going to be good.
8. Jae Tilt
It’s hard to not be impressed by this 22-year-old up-and-comer. Jae Tilt’s Product of 93 was advertised as an EP, but served up 11 tracks that offer a completely unique voice and identity, both in Tilt’s style and the production. Bass-y vocal samples act as a foil to Tilt’s own flow, and dreamy synth backing blends to make a bizarre, almost hypnotic sound. Honestly, you just have to listen to get it.
Meeting somewhere at the intersection of concept art and hip-hop, rap duo Headlock is a well-loved slice of Tucson’s rap community. While the fuzzy, almost abrasive production screams intensity — think Beastie Boys meets Death Grips, live elements like a washing machine on wheels show that Headlock isn’t so serious about all of it. Or, maybe that’s all part of the exhibit.
[embedded content]6. Marley B
With his July 2016 release, Grow, Marley B acknowledged his own development as an artist, and kicking off with the song “Bonsai,” the album quickly established itself as the rapper’s next step, creatively. Big flourishes, howling vocal samples, saccharine strings, and Marley B’s trademark staccato-laden flow all meld together to make one complete statement. It says not just that he’s grown, but that he’s growing.