If you’re into Arizona underground hip hop and you haven’t heard of the Drunken Immortals well, you haven't heard shit. Having ties with The Blunt Club, Crusher Sound System, Clown Shoes and a score of other connects valley-wide and around the world, it seems hard not to know them. Don’t worry though, it’s not your fault.
These staples of the hip hop community have recently dropped their newest album, The Artist Lives. Sonically, it goes beyond their previous albums into realms yet untouched by this or any other (especially hip hop) band. That’s pretty difficult to do. Especially when all of your previous albums have already pushed the limits of reputable hip hop music.
Just being able to review this album is a treat. I could not find it anywhere. I was super pissed when I could not attend the album release show at the Sail Inn on May 28th of this year. It was only $8, plus you got a copy of their new album! Ok, so then I find out they’re playing at the Yucca on July 2nd and I’ll be able to get it there. Good. Fine. I’ll just have to wait a month. Then, disaster! I cannot attend this show either.
I looked everywhere for this album. No one has it. I figured then that I’d be able to at least find and purchase it on the internet. Nope. The only reference I could even find to The Artist Lives is on the band’s recently created Facebook page. You can’t get it through their Amazon, CD Baby, or iTunes stores. Not even their website lists it. Talk about underground.
I finally resorted to the last line of defense: I Google searched for a torrent of the album. I know, I know, what was I thinking, right? Would there actually be a torrent for this and, if so, who would be seeding it? Lo and behold, someone with an IP address originating from Finland had the album, and slowly, very slowly, I acquired The Artist Lives from halfway around the world.
It only makes sense really. This album is world-class. I’ve recently been listening to a ton of Arizona hip hop and this just blows most of it away. From the originality of the beats and rhymes, to the exceptional production of the songs, to the exquisite art that adorns it, The Artist Lives just stomps on the competition. The best part is that the Drunken Immortals aren’t even competing. They set the bar.
From the opening track “Monkey Dinosaur Human Robot,” which takes a five minute journey through audile landscapes hitherto unknown by any southwest artist or listener, I could tell this album was going to be something special. As tracks “Keep It Smokin (Featuring Afro Classics)” and the organ driven “Get Down” pass by, the album continues to get better. “Walk On” vies to be my favorite track on the album. Featuring a female vocalist not credited on the song, I’m left stuck wondering whose voice haunts my head with its eerily melodic harmony.
After the jazzy, funk-inspired “Interlude,” the band gets serious on “Taste The Pain.” Then, the Drunken Immortals let everyone in Arizona and the world know just how far they plan on going in “Till The Wheels Fall Off,” a monumental track that settles all scores. The fast paced, party track “Hell Yes” leads right into the finale “Bullet Proof Vest,” a multi-faceted song that spans many styles. All in all, The Artist Lives contains 15 tracks that will simply kick your ass.
And that shouldn’t surprise you. The eight-piece Drunken Immortals derive their name from the Eight Immortals who, according to legend, improvised the Drunken Fighting Techniques at an undersea kingdom banquet. After becoming drunk and rowdy, the palace guards attacked the Immortals, but lost due to the Immortals’ newly created Drunken Style. This is a perfect analogy for a band that after 12 years running continues to be a mainstay in Arizona hip hop.
I wasn’t sure how the band would feel knowing that I downloaded their newest album off the internet. But then I read the back cover of the art that was included in the file. It states, “Unauthorized reproduction of this recording and art is encouraged and Drunken would like to say thanks to the pirates for spreading the music around.” That’s when I knew I was meant to find the album the way I did. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m still seeding The Artist Lives for anyone that can’t find it.