Down the Rabbit Hole (and Other Underground Things that Hip-hop)—Anyone who's gone looking for jackrabbits as a kid will attest: You can't really tell you're in the thick of them until your leg is halfway down a hole. And that's largely what underground hip-hop is like in this town—insular to the point of looking nonexistent to everyone on the outside. Maybe the local hip-hop community is just bad at outreach. Maybe there's an honest-to-god, concerted effort to keep this stuff buried. Whatever it is, finding the good, underground stuff on your own can be downright impossible. But it's getting easier.
First and foremost, tune your radio to 89.9 FM on Friday nights.
Yeah, yeah, no one listens to the radio anymore. That's just part of the secret: Sometimes the good stuff is hidden in plain sight. KUNM's "Street Beat" has been a fixture in the 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. slot since the early ’90s, playing the best underground hip-hop the world over, scratched up live by the best local DJs. Borrow their ears for a night and see if it doesn't open you up a little.
There are other signs of life peaking over the surface, too. One of the most encouraging glimmers are regularly scheduled hip-hop shows. Vinyl and Versus has held a monopoly on Wednesday nights for almost four years at Burt's Tiki Lounge—and if a weekly DJ/MC/B-Boy battle can hang on that long, imagine what other crazy things can take root in this desert.
Now there's Underground Uprising. Each month, hip-hop crews from all over the city—from all over the Southwest, even—are getting together at the Launchpad and seeing what happens. It's like a big science experiment ... only with microphones instead of microscopes. The fourth installation is going down this Thursday, June 21. Speed One and DJ Code Breaker will act as ringmasters while Jivin Scientists from Arizona plays off of local crews Durt E. Sol, Mantis Fist, SaintSinnerSuns, Habeas Corpses and Soul Cypher Crew. The show's even free. Now you have no excuse.
Shine On, You Cherry Girl—Sleepy-voiced Michelle Collins has chewed on a project here and there since The Shine Cherries split last year, but she's been shy to come right out and show us her solo stuff. But on Saturday, June 23, Michelle is stepping from the shadows (hopefully with her theremin and guitar in hand) for a double bill with Fast Heart Mart at the Blue Dragon Coffeehouse (Girard at Indian School). The show is all-ages but limited to the first 60 guests that snatch up a seat. $5 gets you in.