Given the sometimes-finicky attitude of fans toward local music in the Phoenix/Tempe area, it’s an accomplishment in itself that Drunken Immortals have hung around for almost 10 years. Well, they’ve done more than hung around, actually. They’ve thrived in a city that isn’t exactly at the top of anyone’s list when it comes to hotbeds of hip-hop.
And that longevity is a credit to the group’s proactive approach, rather than surviving by attrition. They helped create a label, Universatile Music, and helped form the Blowup Co-Op, a loose-knit collaboration of hip-hop musicians, artists, activists and such.
They just released their third LP, Hot Concrete, a title that pretty much says it all when it comes to the group’s loyalty to Arizona; if you’ve ever been to Arizona in August and tried to walk barefoot on the sidewalk, you know what that means. The album features guests Dres from Black Sheep and Abstract Rude of Project Blowed. With seven members and live instrumentation, Drunken Immortals are versatile enough to adapt and keep a step ahead of stagnant hip-hop machismo. Real Life, with Ab Rude, is DI in peak form: Latin-influenced guitars and percussion, turntables and emcees all mixed seamlessly into a fluid groove.
These guys were on the local circuit quite a bit when I was going to school at Arizona State, so it’s nice to see them keep stretching out but still reppin’ their hometown. That’s the 602 and the 480 (and sometimes the 623), for those not in the know.