Home News Better of Phoenix 2020: Right here Are the Native Music Winners

Better of Phoenix 2020: Right here Are the Native Music Winners


Though the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on reside performances for a lot of the 12 months, there’s nonetheless a lot to rejoice in regards to the metro Phoenix music scene.

Listed below are among the winners of the Best of Phoenix 2020 music classes.

Justus Samuel on stage at 2016's Arizona Hip Hop Festival.

Justus Samuel on stage at 2016’s Arizona Hip Hop Competition.

New Occasions Archive

Greatest Promoter

Justus Samuel

We ain’t gonna lie: When Justus Samuel first introduced the Arizona Hip Hop Competition again in 2014, we thought he was nuts. Or affected by delusions of grandeur. Or each. Bringing collectively near 100 artists (and their egos) from Phoenix’s fractured and often-contentious scene for an unlimited one-day showcase? It appeared destined to implode underneath the sheer weight of Samuel’s ambition. We had been flawed. Save for some logistical snafus, the inaugural pageant was a powerful success. Six years later, it is nonetheless going robust, serving to to develop native skills, foster a way of group, and put Arizona hip-hop on the map. That is been Samuel’s M.O. for greater than a decade together with his file label and promotions firm Respect the Underground, which showcases rappers by means of common gigs and lands them airplay on on-line platforms like iKON Radio. He is even tailored to the COVID-19 disaster, utilizing livestreams and digital live shows to get RTU’s music to the general public — no matter it takes for Arizona’s hip-hop godfather and largest booster to proceed repping this wonderful state.

Local rapper and wrestling geek Mega Ran.EXPAND

Native rapper and wrestling geek Mega Ran.

MedafOracle Pictures

Greatest Rapper

Mega Ran

Different rappers may be content material with the extent of success Raheem Jarbo has achieved — Billboard-charting tracks, nerdcore icon — however not the performer generally known as Mega Ran, who’s by no means rested on his laurels and by no means stays idle for lengthy. Jarbo is at all times leveling up his abilities, honing his already appreciable lyrical skills by means of fixed tasks and collaborations with premier rappers like Younger RJ of Slum Village and Kadesh Circulate. Recreation acknowledge sport. He is acquired geek cred to go together with his road cred, persevering with to drop tracks laden with gaming and geek references (it is how he first made his title, in spite of everything) or internet hosting digital live shows in Animal Crossing. Jarbo additionally makes use of his standing to provide one thing again; in July, he raised almost $17,000 by means of Twitch livestreaming for a nationwide bail fund for Black Lives Matter protesters. He is a drive on the mic and a drive for good.

BIJOU is protecting himself personally and professionally.EXPAND

BIJOU is defending himself personally and professionally.


Greatest DJ


After greater than a decade of sprucing his abilities, largely behind the scenes as a DJ/producer, it is Ben Dorman’s time to shine. Over the summer time, the artist known as Bijou (French for “jewel”) dropped his debut album, Diamond Metropolis, and its brilliance proves he is a lower above most domestically produced digital dance music artists. The 15-track effort is a real gem, glittering with radiant bass, hip-hop swagger, and big infusions of G-house crafted by Dorman, backed up by rap glitterati like Denzel Curry and Wifisfuneral. It is sparkled on SoundCloud thus far, with bangers just like the Dr. Fresch collaboration “Westside” (that includes bars by Phoenix’s Willy Northpole) racking up a whole lot of 1000’s of performs inside weeks of launch. Such success makes Dorman’s resolution in 2013 to desert a possible pitching profession a clever one. We’re sure the Valley native can be known as as much as EDM’s huge leagues quickly sufficient.

Harper and the Moths are this year's best local band.EXPAND

Harper and the Moths are this 12 months’s greatest native band.

Jim Louvau

Greatest Band

Harper and the Moths

This Is Spinal Faucet has been a part of the popular culture lexicon for therefore lengthy, it is grow to be cliche to say {that a} band can take it as much as “11.” However with all due respect to Nigel Tufnel’s amp, Harper and the Moths went above and past after the discharge of their first full-length album, Darkish Sufficient to Dance, their nod to the funky Nile Rodgers guitar sound of the ’80s. Nobody mentioned they needed to produce a choreographed 360-degree video to the one “Your Love” — however they did (and it kicked ass). And so they deserve an award for getting native indie youngsters to cease standing with folded arms and dance at each present. However wait a second, is not that what we’re doing right here? We’re, and we won’t wait to see what’s subsequent.

Paper Foxes delivered some Popular Confessions.EXPAND

Paper Foxes delivered some Common Confessions.

Andrew Starkman

Greatest Album

Paper Foxes’ Common Confessions

CJ Jacobson of Paper Foxes instructed Phoenix New Occasions final 12 months that Common Confessions, the title of the band’s debut album, was a time period he coined to “clarify the mass melancholy that almost everybody appears to be experiencing in 2019.” The file made the melancholy soften away greater than another Valley launch, which is why we’re nonetheless listening in 2020, after we’re unable to exit and dance with the “dying disco” group. And people outdoors Arizona are beginning to take discover. Paper Foxes was just lately named one of the best unsigned band within the state by Different Press. This is hoping they’re going to get the possibility to indicate off for the residents of different states quickly.

Las Calakas continue to deliver their fiery take on cumbia.EXPAND

Las Calakas proceed to ship their fiery tackle cumbia.

Sam Gomez

Greatest Get together Band

Las Calakas

There wasn’t a lot time for reside music in 2020 earlier than the world up and altered. Livestreamed exhibits are a satisfying distraction, however they can not seize the visceral high quality — the facility, actually — of seeing a real reside live performance. Except, in fact, we’re speaking about Las Calakas. This cumbia fusion band by some means managed to re-create the joy of their raucous reside exhibits regardless of the constraints of expertise. It isn’t simply that the streams ignited the identical fires as an precise live performance (an urge to shimmy, the tendency to hoot and holler, and so on.) — they displayed the band’s dynamic in high-res element as they whipped out fiery fusion jams in actual time. Las Calakas’ streams are a reminder of reside music’s energy to assist folks lose themselves within the inventive ether. Greater than something, they stored hope alive for what would possibly come subsequent for a post-quarantine world: an evening out on the present, dancing and vibing with just a few dozen shut strangers.

Folk-punk artist Andy Warpigs.EXPAND

Folks-punk artist Andy Warpigs.

Benjamin Leatherman

Greatest Trailblazer

Andy Warpigs

The cowboy mythos could also be antiquated, however people ‘spherical right here nonetheless blaze loads of trails. Within the final decade or so, Andy Warpigs has lower a swath by means of this metropolis, shining brilliant as a folk-punk hero who uplifts listeners with every new journey to the stage or studio. Warpigs champions punk-ish values of individuality and justice, appearing as a beacon for a complete group of artists making an attempt to make their very own model of weirdness take flight. What drives his devotion to sound and metropolis alike is a real love of music and an earnest perception that nice tunes can unite a village, burn out all of the evil, and make a spot that is extra free and enjoyable than beforehand imagined. Even when such transformations by no means totally take maintain, Warpigs’ dedication to Phoenix retains us all on our toes and perpetually trustworthy with what we’re placing in. He is not just a few noble figurehead or stoic determine on horseback, and he would not demand change a lot as present us one thing in ourselves to work towards. He is the man with the guitar singing a few darkish and twisted world, hoping we’ll scream alongside for simply a few bars.

The Treasure MammaL family.

The Treasure MammaL household.

Treasure MammaL

Greatest Transition to a Cowl Band

Treasure MammaL

The members of Treasure MammaL have at all times been powerful nuts to crack. As a lot a band as pure efficiency artwork, they mix ironic detachment, bountiful nostalgia, and globs of random popular culture into one thing indecipherable however nonetheless totally entertaining. Because it seems, the collective might need one other calling as a canopy band. Throughout 2020, they’ve launched bonkers covers of songs by Depeche Mode, Chic, and the Aquabats. Are these songs “good” in a conventional sense? No. They sound as in case your 1998 Dell PC exploded in a match of mangled musical samples. However they’re good in that they are utterly insane items of media that by some means make our present timeline really feel much less terrifying and all-consuming. In the event you’re not into it, do not let that cease you from having fun with unique Treasure MammaL materials (September’s Grammy Nominated is completely foolish but in addition transcendent). As an alternative, let these covers function inspiration to, say, depart behind the rat race, transfer to Las Vegas, and begin a covers-centric cabaret present on Fremont Road.