Arizona-Based Native Hip-Hop Trio, Shining Soul, Drop New Video for "The H.E.A.L.I.N.G"


Through their vintage beat production and empowering rhyme delivery, Shining Soul has made and name for themselves and has carve out their own unique lane in the AZ Hip Hop community and beyond with their distinctive blend of socially conscious, yet soulful brand of hip-hop.

Emcee Liaizon, Bronze Candidate and DJ Reflekshin have proven time and time again that their music is universally accessible and has the power to start the healing process regarding the social ills we all face through the medium of hip-hop. Whether opening for major acts such as Phife Dawg, Ana Tijoux and Pharoahe Monch or “spreading their medicine” throughout the U.S., Canada and Germany with their rigorous tour schedule, Shining Soul reaffirms hip-hop can be a conduit for positive change, internally and externally.

So after years on the road, Shining Soul is back at it with their new music video titled “The H.E.A.L.I.N.G”. Shot in Washington D.C by El-Shamesh Photography, “The H.E.A.L.I.N.G” is just a glimpse of their long awaited third full-length album Politics Aside.

“The H.E.A.L.I.N.G” promises to be a disclaimer for what's to come and a wake up call for all those sleeping on Arizona's favorite rap trio.

Watch: Shining Soul - "The H.E.A.L.I.N.G."

For more Shining Soul, visit: and

Shining Soul: Phoenix Hip-Hop with a Purpose


We just got put on to the fresh stylings of Shining Soul, a Phoenix, Arizona-based hip-hop duo, composed of Franco/The Bronze Candidate, who makes beats and instrumentals with a distinct underground and jazzy flavor, and Alex Soto/MC Liaison, who spits politically subversive rhymes. The duo uses their music to inform audiences about border militarization, oppression of Indigenous Peoples, and capitalism.

Check out their recent interview with on hip-hop, cultural pride, and the politics of border militarization:

Carl Gibson: Where are you originally from? And how does that influence your music?

MC Liaison: First and foremost, I’m Tohono O’odham (pronounced tone-OH-tum) which translates to desert people, and is the second largest tribe next to the Navajo in the so-called U.S. Our land mass is as big as the state of Connecticut and shares 79 miles of so-called US/Mexico border. The line was drawn since 1848 with the Gadsden Purchase, so our nation and community has been divided in half. Our tribal lands go to Rocky Point, Hermecito, and spans as far north as Phoenix. Just like any indigenous tribe around the world, there are different bands. There’s desert people, but up here, the other O’odham, or people, are the river people. Any MC back in New York knows that Hip-Hop began with that cultural pride of people who were living in the ghetto, living in the hood, living on the rez. That’s one thing I communicate through my music. I share my culture and flavor down there, but I’m also rocking it in Phoenix with people up here.

CG: How long have you two been making music? Talk about how you began and the evolution of your sound.

Bronze Candidate: Alex and I have known each other for nine years. Shining Soul has been through many phases and mutations. We used to be a live band at one point; I was playing bass and guitar for the group. I’m still using those musical influences as music for the group, but I’m making the beat-driven, rhythm-driven music. It’s basically about cultural pride, and pride about where we come from. My mom and pops were into Earth Wind and Fire, Gap Band, El Chicano, really funky stuff. I supplemented it with Mariachi here and there, with some Salsa infused. And that’s all kind of what I gear myself and the audience for. With the beats coupled with the critical, crucial and sometimes urgent messages you sometimes need to put in the music, people are really feeling it. It’s a serious message, but it’s constructive, as well.

CG: This is Arizona, the home of SB 1070, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer. It seems like there’s a lot of stuff to inspire your lyrics in Arizona. Talk about how these current battles influence your music.

BC: It’s also the home of Si Se Puede, as we say. And the house of insurrection. It’s in our rhymes. It’s the front lines of this new white supremacy we’re seeing, and that’s what we call it, because that’s what it is. It comes from colonization and this domination of the social order, you see the disparities in the distribution of quote-unquote wealth.

CG: And you see it in high unemployment rates in indigenous communities compared to white communities, incarceration rates and all that.

BC: Right. It’s the allegiances that are there that are not talked about and kind of invisible. There’s destitute people across the board. Whatever you look like, whatever your pigment is. It’s that allegiance to what we call whiteness. Because that gives you privilege over people who are darker than you. And at the end of the day, I mean, you don’t want to be criminalized for being poor. You want to pass the buck to someone else. And look at who’s historically been marginalized and how violence has been projected upon certain groups of individuals. I’m a Chicano, I come from generations in the valley of what we call Phoenix. I’m pretty much a desert person as well. But three generations is not that long, people like my boy Alex, MC Liaison, he’s been here since time immemorial. So what does that look like when I’m trying to claim space here? So my music comes from me as a human being, as a Chicano, and as an MC and beat maker. So that brings it back to this imperialism we try to address in our music. We have these draconian laws like SB 1070, and the streamlining of “secure communities” laws which allow federal agents and local pig to collaborate.

MCL: In particular, it relates to SB 1070, but it also relates to border militarization. This has been happening before SB 1070 became law. SB 1070 just made us more of a police state. In the Tohono O’odham nation, my people have been stuck literally in the middle of this war that’s been happening. With the push of NAFTA in 1994, we had an influx of economic refugees migrate here from the so-called line to the South, and of course, the state cracked down. So Nogales, El Paso, the bigger cities, Tijuana -- all got locked down, because that’s a given to lock that spot. So what happens is they have to go through the hottest, most rural, and craziest areas, which happen to be where I’m from. The Border Patrol and now the Department of Homeland Security have militarized it because it’s a corridor for migration. So my people are like, “Yo, I’m from here, and now I’m going through a checkpoint?” I went through one today. And granted, we’re here today having this interview, but it’s like, why the fuck do I have to go through a checkpoint? Why do I have to go through easily 50 Border Patrol agents, have helicopters flying overhead? We’re still here, we have culture, our languages, our songs, our indigenous people are still here after all these centuries. Now we have the spook of border militarization. Keep in mind, the immigration reform bill in its current form quadruples this militarized border by putting a Berlin-like wall in my backyard. I’ve seen it going from a chicken wire fence when I was five or six years old, to a vehicle barrier, to a vehicle barrier with a road next to it, and cameras all along the road, people patrolling up and down, day and night, and that’s just 25 years of my life. What’s it gonna look like when I’m 50 or 60? So we’ve done direct actions and protests, but I feel music for me is like a torpedo, for people who don’t know about this shit.

Read more: Shining Soul: A Phoenix Hip-Hop Duo Raps on Border Militarization |


For more of Shining Soul's music check them out online: and

DOWNLOAD: Deathscene - "Next to Me"


Deathscene is the trio of Keithan (Navajo), Book (Navajo) and Erica from Tucson, Arizona. Together they write and record mellow, downbeat, trip-hoppy music and have been keeping it mostly to themselves. But, they shared this track with RPM, we really dig it, and we want to share it with you.

The subject of their work spans what Keithan describes as "the human condition", ie "the illusion of external reality, the conundrum of time & space, humble heartache, resistance to falling in love, romantic seclusion, and the relationship between noisey humans and  insomnia." Deathscene paints these pictures with bright pianos, playful keys, minor acoustic chords, shoegaze electric guitars, drum and instrument programming, lo-fi recording and voice samples

Get into this thoughtful and melancholic jam and share this post!

DOWNLOAD: Deathscene - "Next to Me"

DOWNLOAD: Mixed Breed - "Automatic Platinum Hit"


Hailing from Tuscon in the land of Arizona, Mixed Breed is a new rap collective fresh out of the halls of high school, making some amazing music.

Consisting of Ali Baby, Chino, Annalex and Lil Shugz, Mixed Breed is a new group to keep your eyes and ears on.

From their debut album Ali Baby presents Mixed Breed: The BEGINNING, this track shares elements of dirty south with some hype 808, and a touch of EDM with the dirty wobble behind their slick lyrics.

Like what you hear? Get the whole album for free at

DOWNLOAD: Mixed Breed - "Automatic Platinum Hit"

The Last New Millennium First People's Powwow


The Thunder in the Desert Powwow began in the year 2000, with a 12-year plan to celebrate and welcome the 21st century. Last week marked the last gathering in Tucson, Arizona.

In acknowledgement of the power of four, Thunder in the Desert was planned to take place four times, every four years, in 2000, 2004, 2008 and this year's finale.

From Indian Country Today's Sun Sets on New Millennium First Peoples’ World Fair and Pow Wow:

“Native Americans felt it important to commemorate this special time in history to celebrate our continued existence and to recommit to carry on our tradition of beauty and culture,” [organizer Fred] Synder said.

This pow wow was both special and traditional in that it provided time to renew thoughts of old ways while joining in dancing, singing, visiting, rekindling current friendships, and making new ones....  “Literally, this event is an all volunteer organization that dedicates three years into planning these ten days of presentations,” said Synder.

...the fun began with an Electric Pow Wow and a traditional Social Pow Wow featuring flute players and aboriginal dancers representing Aztec, Ecuadorian, and Tlingit cultures along with Zuni Buffalo and Eagle dancers and hoop dance performances — all of which lead up to late afternoon gourd dancing and an official Grand Entry begun as the sun began to sink in the West to end Day One...

As a closing comment, coordinator Carole Garcia thanked participants by noting: “It is an honor you have chosen to be with us at Thunder in the Desert and thank you for keeping our children dancing."

Here is a great short video that captured Coloradas Mangas, lead dancer:


And here are just a few of the many gorgeous photographs taken by Lightning Horse during all 10 days of this event. Head on over to the Thunder in the Desert on Facebook to feast your eyes on rest of the images. Maybe even feel a bit of that Tucson sun!