While Arizona may not be the first state you think of when it comes to producing great rappers, you may be surprised just how many notable music artists, old and young alike, hail from there. So read on as explore the best names the Grand Canyon State has brought to the rap game.
Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, was a rapper and actor. DMX, short for Dark Man X, was born in 1970 and passed away in New York in 2021. Although representing East Coast hip hop, he lived on and off in Arizona for many years. In fact, he owned a property in Cave Creek. He also recorded his most significant album, And Then There Was X, in Phoenix.
DMX endured a tough childhood that included escaping an abusive household by becoming homeless. Nevertheless, he persevered and built a music successful career. He produced eight studio albums and won several awards. He also published a memoir entitled E.A.R.L: The Autobiography of DMX.
Zachary Lewis Beck, better known by his rap name Futuristic, was born in Bloomington, Illinois, However, Futuristic moved to Tempe during high school and began using music as a coping mechanism when his grandmother died.
His career began when he posted a remix of J Cole’s “Who Dat” and started working with artists like Las Vegas’s Dizzy Wright. Futuristic’s first song to chart on the Billboard 100 was “Hold Each Other” with the group A Great Big World.
Futuristic has completed 11 studio albums and two collaborative albums.
Sincerely Collins is a rising hip-hop artist from Arizona. With a tough background that includes childhood homelessness, he bet everything on a music career after high school. His first mixtape, Destroyer, launched his career, and he has now worked with the likes of Willow Smith.
In addition, Sincerely Collins was featured on The World Alive’s album Violent Noise, lending an R&B influence to the group’s alternative rock roots. His most recent work includes dropping a music video featuring promotional work with the Phoenix Suns.
Jacob Raiford, better known as Roqy Tyraid, was born in San Diego but currently resides in Phoenix. He originally came to Arizona for college and settled in the Grand Canyon state to promote his music at a local level.
Roqy Tyraid gained a loyal fan base in the Phoenix area, and largely credits his success to selling mixtapes by hand and performing in rap battles during his shows. He currently has four albums, with plans to release more music.
William Kenneth Adams, known professionally as Willy Northpole, hails from Phoenix.
He joined Ludacris’s label, Disturbing Tha Peace, in 2007 and released his studio album entitled Tha Connect in 2009. He also has three released singles, including Hood Dreamer, which featured critically acclaimed artist B.O.B.
Just as Willy Northpole’s career was taking off, he faced some controversy when the BET network refused to air his music video for his single “#1 Sidechick”. The network cited problems with the content of the video that portrayed a man in a relationship with two women.
MC Magic was born Marco Cardenas in Nogales, Mexico. However, he spent his childhood in Arizona. He began working as a DJ at the age of thirteen.
Notably, MC Magic raps in Spanish and English. He has released five studio albums, with his second and third albums being particularly successful, taking number one and six spots on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, respectively. His most recent single, No Me Importa Nada, was released in 2014.
Ali Tomineek is a rapper from Arizona who gained a larger audience by performing on the Netflix show Rhythm + Flow, which featured celebrity judges such as Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and T.I. In addition, he is a part of the music group called the 31 Squad.
Besides rapping, Ali Tomineek is also an actor and has appeared in the Netflix movie “High Strung Free Dance.” When he’s not acting or rapping, Ali has worked with local nonprofits to raise awareness against bullying.
Delly Everyday is a rapper and actor from Phoenix. His claim to fame is that he released a new song every day in 2018. A documentary was created detailing the creative process behind Delly’s commitment to dropping a song a day throughout the year.
Delly Everyday draws his creative influence from Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg. Many of his music videos include scenes from downtown Phoenix.
Alexcis Villa, known by his stage name that is simply Alexcis, is a Mexican American rapper born in San Jose but raised in Phoenix. His most notable single, Chico, features Wiz Khalifa and Kap G and has amassed over 20 million streams across multiple platforms.
Alexcis has worked with several other big names in the rap game, including singles “Until the Day” with T Pain and “My Party” with G-Eazy.
The Desert Baby
Taking his stage name inspiration from Arizona’s majestic desert, The Desert Baby began uploading music on Youtube five years ago. Since then, he has released 6 albums and over 60 music videos.
Growing up bi-racial in a large household of nine children inspired much of the content of his music. The Desert Baby also credits time spent behind bars for influencing his music as well. Moreover, he draws musical inspiration from the likes of Tupac, Bone Thugs, and Lil Boosie.
Dann G blends a unique mix of hip-hop, trap, and Latin influences into his music. He writes and performs in both English and Spanish. Most notably, he performed at the Sun’s halftime show during the playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021. He’s also shared the stage with some pretty big names such as Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, and Migos.
His top hit, Cabo Vibes, features fellow Arizona-based rapper Alexcis, and has amassed nearly 200,000 views on YouTube. Furthermore, his album Galvez the Great reached number one on the iTunes Latin charts.
Originally born in Queens, New York, Murkemz now claims Phoenix as his home. He has been writing and rapping since his teenage years, and has gotten the attention of hip-hop legends like Ice-T.
Murkemz has made a name for himself as a lyricist and freestylist. His music career gained traction after his freestyle segment on Sway’s Sirius XM radio show in particular.
Hailing from South Phoenix, Yung Face hit the rap scene with his first music video, I’m Different, on Youtube five years ago. While he claims music as his first love, several relationships have inspired his music. In fact, he credits his stage name to the compliments his youthlike face receives from the women he dates.
Yung Face owns his own studio and label called We-Up-Next-ENT. Among other venues, he has performed at the historical Henry Jack’s nightclub in Avondale, Arizona. This club has hosted countless R&B and Latin artists since its opening in 1935.
Eden Daniel Pearlstein, or Eprhyme, was born in Phoenix, Arizona. After rejecting his Jewish roots in childhood, Eprhyme had a spiritual awakening at a Native American ceremony in South Dakota, which caused him to take another look at his spirituality.
After reclaiming his culture and ancestry, Eprhyme continued to make music throughout his college career and beyond. The events of his childhood and Jewish roots continue to inspire his musical artistry.
Eprhyme has released three solo studio albums.
A current resident of Peoria, Arizona, Gary Bagby, or Foreknown, has been making music since 2009. His first studio album, titled Ornithology, was released in 2014. His music has strong Christian themes, and his album, Ornithology, is sometimes considered a Christian rap record.
Foreknown credits much of his inspiration and love for the genre as he first became familiar with performing during the hip-hop boom of the 90s in Los Angeles. His most popular track is titled Minivan.
The only rap group on this list, Injury Reserve, was formed in 2013 in the city of Tempe, Arizona. The members include Steppa J Groggs, Ritchie with a T, and producer Parker Corey.
In 2018, the group signed with the record label Loma Vista. The following year, they had a gig in Sweeden at the back of an Italian restaurant rather than a traditional venue. Lacking the equipment needed to put on a typical show, they performed an improvisatory set that was so well received it became the foundation for their next album, By The Time I Get to Phoenix.
Unfortunately, one of the founding members, Steppa J Groggs, passed away in 2020, right before the release of their latest album. The group members recall Grogg’s excitement and love for the album in one of their last phone calls.
SwinDoe, originally from Tucson, Arizona, made music history by releasing a Billboard charting campaign from his cellphone. By publicizing his pin, he was able to sell his music on various BlackBerry-themed sites. His self-titled debut album reached #123 on the top Billboard 200 in 2010.
He is a self-described actor, father, husband, writer, inventor, and painter. He also considers himself a polymath, or a person of substantial learning and knowledge.
Originally from Philadelphia but relocated to Phoenix in 2006 to be a middle school teacher, Mega Ran, or Raheem Jarbo, has a different background than many other rappers. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Penn State and continued to work in education until leaving the field in 2011 to focus on his music career full-time.
Mega Man’s rap name is based on the Mega Man video game. Moreover, since teaming up with the video game distributor Capcom and working on soundtracks for various video games, his name and music have become synonymous with the gaming scene. Mega Ran performed at the Halo 4 Championships in 2013, among other video game events such as comic cons.
Mega Ran also hosted a documentary-style reality show on his Youtube channel, documenting his journey from teaching to a full-time music career. The series was entitled “Life After Lesson Plans.” An interesting fact about Mega Ran’s music is that it is currently used in teaching curriculum at several universities, including his alma mater, Penn State.
Bag of Tricks Cat
Michael Gamarano, better known professionally as Bag of Tricks Cat, hails from Glendale, Arizona, and signed with Alpha House label this year. A fun fact about Bag of Tricks Cat is that his grandmother, who played a prolific role in his life, performed the original theme song of the cartoon Felix the Cat. His grandmother is featured in two of his recent songs.
Bag of Tricks Cat has toured with fellow Arizona-based rapper Mega Ran and has had five singles reach the Billboard charts. Along with working with Mega Ran, Bag of Tricks Cat has also worked with another Arizona-based rapper on this list: Willy Northpole.
Judge Da Boss
Robert Louis Carr III, better known as Judge Da Boss, is from the south side of Phoenix. He began showing an interest in music during his middle school years. When he was a freshman in high school, Judge started recording his music.
Judge Da Boss caught the attention of professional basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire after winning a rap competition, “The Chosen One.” He signed with Stoudemire’s label, Hypocalypto Records, and his song “Stat and Melo” is still played in Madison Square Garden during Knick’s games.
Isaiah Camacho, better known as Isaiah Toothtaker, is from Tucson, Arizona. Beyond being a successful rapper, Isaiah is also a tattoo artist and founder of the hip-hop collective “Machina Muerte.”
Toothtaker is of Mexican and Native American descent, specifically from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Much of his music was inspired by personal trials in life, such as becoming homeless at just the age of 11 in Old Pascua in Tucson.
Top Arizona Rappers, Final Thoughts
With a healthy mix of old-school legends and young talent trying to get into the game, there’s so much music to explore from the Arizona natives. Plus, their success serves as inspiration for other up-and-coming rappers hailing from the Grand Canyon State, so don’t be surprised to see Arizona’s rap scene grow even further.