I know I’ve been on a hip-hop binge lately, but we’re all about opening minds here. Another show I’ll sadly be missing tonight is the Shapeshifters at — of all places — a Phoenix art gallery called the Paper Heart.
I clearly haven’t been keeping my ear to the hip-hop ground because I missed the Shifters’ newest release, Was Here, when it dropped last year. The eight-man crew — AWOL One, Existereo, Die, Life Rexall, Akuma, Radioinactive, Circus, and LA Jae — has been likened to the Pharcyde for its animated topics of rhyme. Like a lot of emcees and deejays — Kool Keith as Dr. Octagon, Invisibl Skratch Picklz — the Shifters are preoccupied with all things alien and extraterrestrial. And that’s not a bad thing because a little imagination goes a long way in a genre sorely lacking it. (Have you seen the schlock on MTV lately?) On Pindar, they “wouldn’t be surprised if our own president was actually a space alien … really a reptilian clone lizard.”
And if you need any proof of the Shifters’ indie cred, peep American Idle, a track that features Slug (he of Atmosphere) and Busdriver. As for the music … well, Run the Crowd has to be one of the hottest party tracks out there, and check Circuit City for a sample of Eddy Grant’s Electric Avenue.