ARHYTHMATIK
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God, Mormons and Phoenix probably aren't three of the first things that come to mind when you hear someone mention hip-hop. But with the rising popularity of Clayton Call and his friends, that may all soon change.

Call, known as Arhythmatik on stages around the Valley, is one of the founding members of the record label Modurn Languaj Asosiashun, or MLA for short.

The label started in 2003, a year after Call graduated from ASU with a communications degree, and within a few months Call says it was already blooming. Now, a little more than two years later, MLA artists are preparing for tours across the nation and are already making a profit off of their records -- something made all the more interesting by the fact that Call is a Mormon and all of the artists on his label are Christian.

As a Mormon, Call was one of the 60,000 young adults sent out annually on missions across the world. Many 19-to-21-year-old members of the Church of Latter-day Saints travel thousands of miles from home to perform missionary work, knocking on doors and spreading the Mormon faith. Men generally spend two years in the field, with women serving 18 months.

While the entire time period is generally spent in one area, Call's experience was a little different. Call is fluent in the American version of sign language, and he would travel around the country to minister to deaf residents of low-income areas from southern California to Baltimore.

The time spent on a mission is filled with days of work, leaving little time for anything else. The rigid lifestyle was hard for Call.

"I was walking around some of the worst ghettoes in America and seeing some of the most amazing hip-hop artists performing on the street," he said. "You want to jump right in, but in that environment, you can't."

After all the exposure to hip-hop culture, Call was ready to start something related to hip-hop when he came back to the Valley in 1997. He just didn't know what. The formulation of his hip-hop vision into a label took years. And the Internet.

"The Internet really levels the playing field," he says. "We can do things in terms of promotions now that before only the big major labels could handle."

The Internet was also how the label got started. Call tapped into the national underground Christian hip-hop scene through a Web site called SphereofHipHop.com. It was there that he met Scott Allen, a non-denominational Christian rapper and MLA label co-founder.

When the two came up with a name, the funky spellings of the label and of his stage name were for symbolic purposes rather than purely stylish reasons, Call says.

"When hip-hop was first getting started, there was no history to build on," he says. "You had to sample what already existed, and create something new. So that's what we're doing with the names, working with what's already there and trying to have a new impact on people."

Call says the experience of starting the label and performing in the Phoenix scene has basically followed the same theme of re-invention.

"There are tons of paths to musical success that already exist," he says. "We were too positive to fit in with a lot of the groups from the mainstream scene, and we don't really try to present a gangsta image. So we ended up making our own niche."

Call says that the label's path isn't one that is determined by faith as much as its values, as the positive lyrical message has been warmly received by Christians and non-Christians alike in the rap scene. Judging by the label's growing popularity, the niche is one that people in the southwestern United States have been looking for.

"We're trying to bring the positivity back into hip-hop," Call says. "People like us because we stay positive without being preachy."

Reach the reporter at benjamin.horowitz@asu.edu.





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- State Press Magazine


Local artists churn out positive hip-hop

Caitlin Prendergast
staff writer

Not all hip-hop music advocates violence, materialism and misogyny.
The Modurn Languaj Asosiashun, pronounced Modern Language Association or just MLA, is an Avondale-based group of Christian artists who are putting a positive spin on hip hop.

Clayton Call, a rap artist who goes by the stage name Arhythmatik, started the MLA record label last year with his friend and fellow rapper Scott Wood of Goodyear, whose hip-hop alias is Scott Allen.

Wood and Call enlisted the help of their friend Paco Cerda of Avondale, who creates beats and produces the label’s music.

The group recently added Levi Peetz of Goodyear to the mix. Peetz works as both a disc jockey and an engineer for the label, he said.

Purposely misspelling the label’s name was Call’s idea, he said.

“The misspelling plays with the conceptions of society, which is what hip-hop was built on,” Call said.

However, funky spelling is not the only thing that sets the MLA apart from other hip-hop labels.

The difference between the MLA’s music and secular hip-hop is the artists’ purpose for making it, Wood said.

Call, who is Mormon, and the rest of the group, made up of non-denominational Christians, send life lessons through their music without sounding preachy, Wood said.

“We have a positive outlook on what we write about,” Wood said.

The label’s music contains no explicit lyrics and is targeted for people of all ages and walks of life.

The MLA also differs from other Christian artists in that the group goes out and performs beyond the church, including bars, Wood said.

The MLA artists haven’t played any big shows in the West Valley yet, but they will perform with fellow Christian hip-hop group L.A. Symphony at 6:30 p.m. on July 23 at 5th Element, 3026 N. 33rd Drive in Phoenix.

Running an artist-friendly label
Christian hip-hop has had a large underground following for years, Cerda said.

“It’s underground because it’s positive … there’s no controversy or marketing scheme,” he said. “It’s based on skill and not on who you’re ‘dissing.’”

The members of the MLA all have separate careers, so they’re not in search of fame or fortune.

“Hip-hop is the No. 1 selling music out there today, but it’s become so commercialized, people like us have disdain for it,” Call said.

The MLA does not make anyone sign contracts and the artists keep all of their own profits off CD sales.

“We’re more of an artist-friendly label,” Wood said.

Wood and Call currently have their first EPs available online at www.mlahiphop.com for $5 apiece, which is a bargain compared to other Christian artists’ CDs, Cerda said.

The label also features hip-hop artists from Denver and San Franciso, and the members of the MLA are looking to work with more positive, not necessarily Christian, artists.

For more information on the MLA, visit the Web site or call 480-233-1070.


Caitlin Prendergast can be reached by e-mail at cprendergast@westvalleyview.com
- West Valley View


Please introduce yourself to our readers. Tell us where you got your name from and how you got into rhyming.

Well hello readers. How are you. I am doing fine. Good. Ok. Anyways- I got into rhyming WAAAAY back in the day when i was like 12 or 13 years old. Me and my friend did a back-and-forth rhyme thing in a talent show in Jr. High. This was in a town in Colorado of about 7,000 people. Hip hop hadn’t yet reached the masses so when we were done, they all just stared and didnt know wut the heck we just did. But it was so fun I thought to myself that it would be dope to do this for a living.

The name Arhythmatik comes from the fact that everything in life is based on mathematics. From making beats to how plants grow- it all functions on mathematics. Its one of the only absolute truths in the world that humans didn’t invent. They may have discovered it and found a way to represent it and organize it so one can learn it, but mathematics is an absolute truth and it will always be so. That’s what I want to represent with my music— absolute truths that dont change with every fad that comes and goes.

Youre from Arizona.Hows the hip-hop scene there like? Do the different elements of our culture connect?

The Arizona scene is really dope now. It has constantly been growing and maturing for quite some time now, its to the point now where there is a huge following of fans that truly support real hip hop. Some great artists are starting to emerge from Arizona.

You also produce all of your songs yourself. Do you think its a big advantage to be skilled in both? Rhymin and production. What equipment do you use and how does a track come together?

Well it certainly is a lot more work doing both. But it gives you the opportunity to treat each song with alot more respect and craft a really good song because you know how much work you put into the beat, it makes you want to put that much more work into the lyrics.

Personally I use FL Studio and ACID to do all my music production. Pretty basic software programs, but they get the job done nicely. Usually I will find a dope sample I want to use. I cut that up in ACID and bring the various samples into FL Studio. From there I will lay out the drums and match the beat to the sample. I usually just play around with the samples in FL Studio until something creative comes from it. I usually dont take a straight sample and add drums. I always like to manipulate the sample somehow until man and machine create something better than either could create alone. (That usually happens by accident- haha)

Modurn Languaj Asosiashun records is the name of the label you founded.Who else is on the label? How did you come up with the idea of forming a label?

Yes, there are several other artists on the label including Scott Allen, The Knownauts, Educated Figures, DJ Idull, DJ 501, Equal Opportunity, Kers, and Glad2Mecha. Basically signing to a label is pointless because all your money goes to them anyways. To me, its just so much more fun to do everything yourself and do it the way you want it done. Thats how hip hop was born.

You and your wife have an one and a half year old boy. In what way did having a kid change your life? Please share some of your feelings with us.

Oh man! It COMPLETELY changed my life! It’s seriously one of the biggest lifestyle changes I’ve ever had. It’s definitely an adjustment- but it is so unbelievably worth it. The joy and love you feel for your child is indescribeable. Its the greatest love I have ever felt for anyone in my life. But it is hard to change your focus from yourself and the things you want to do to another human being. It’s crazy because when they are little, they completely depend on you for their survival, so you have to dedicate all your time and attention to them, but it’s great seeing them grow and learn so much so fast.

You also host a radio show called “the blaze“. Whats up with that?

Yeah- actually the radio show is called Elements of Culture and its on the Arizona State University’s campus radio station The Blaze 1260am. Its fun— it gives me a lot of opportunities to spread good hip hop and network with different artists.

Do you have another job besides being a label owner and Rap artist?

Yes- I am a sign language interpreter by day, hip hop artist by night! haha

Brainstorm-one word one short answer

God- love
Familiy- dedication
Friends- fun
Love- God
Hip-Hop- my culture
Energy- live shows
Money- nice to have, but not the most important thing
Major Labels- suck

Tell us something about your debut. Its called the "Pre-Algebra" EP and is released on your independent label Modurn Languaj Asosiashun. How long did it take you to finish up the record for example. Are you happy with the feedback you got so far?

Yeah it’s crazy because that album is really like 5 years old. I changed alot of the lyrics and a few of the beats in the last year, but alot of it was made 5 years ag - TheBaske.com


See more press and reviews at www.arhythmatik.com! - www.arhythmatik.com


Discography

2002- Scorpion Kingz: Southwest Hip Hop Compilation Vol. 1 featuring single "Southwestylez"

2004- Scorpion Kingz: Southwest Hip Hop Compilation Vol. 2 featuring single "Mind & Heart"

2005- Pre-Algebra EP

Photos

Bio

Hailing from Phoenix Arizona, Arhythmatik (pronounced “arithmetic”) is one of underground hip-hop’s most prominent up-and-coming artists. Arhythmatik has gained a name for himself as an innovative producer and emcee in the Southwest hip hop scene through several independent releases. Going by the name “Cocoa Loco” for many years, Arhythmatik is no stranger to hip hop.

He combines clever, substance-filled rhymes with solid, uniquely-sampled beats, which he produces entirely by himself. He has been noted for his extremely witty verses and musical creativity, while still keeping an ear to the street. In the spirit of artists like The Visionaries, Swollen Members, and Mars Ill, Arhythmatik comprises the truest elements of hip-hop in his style, as he remains loyal to rap as an art form. His clean lyrics and lifestyle are a breath of fresh air in today’s depraved hip-hop industry. Arhythmatik has garnered a large following of fans in the Southwest and throughout the country. He continues to gain advocates from all areas of the hip-hop community with each song he creates. With his insightful lyrics and inspiring ballads, Arhythmatik is poised to join underground hip hop’s elite.

Currently, Arhythmatik’s first national release, on independent label Modurn Languaj Asosiashun (pronounced ‘Modern Language Association’), is the "Pre-Algebra" EP and is garnering positive attention everywhere.

The future of hip hop is here. The future of hip hop is Arhythmatik.

For more information, contact:
Modurn Languaj Asosiashun
(480) 233-1070
or email
info@mlahiphop.com