The three members of 66 Studios. Courtesy photo
Since 2009, Flagstaff hip-hoppers 66 Studios have evolved professionally through two full-length albums, a compilation record with their close affiliates and a mixtape. They also are growing personally, sending one member to the Army and raising two kids. Very soon, one member will get married.
Most musicians consider radio airplay a career-solidifying accomplishment. (66 Studio’s uplifting track “Have to Keep Moving” is the most requested song on Prescott’s Q102.9 FM.)
This high-country hip-hop outfit—comprised of Vincent Jr., Serenity and Rudi—say their biggest feat to date is what they have given back to the Flagstaff community.
Hundreds of Facebook followers are giving the group grand high-fives for their powerful, high-desert-inspired rhymes.
“No matter how much time I spend with a dictionary, I doubt I could ever come up with a word to describe how I truly feel about the love we’ve received from Arizona,” says 66 lyricist Vincent Jr., over the phone. He is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Virginia.
Through recordings and live performances, each member plays his or her part creating a genuine connection with the audience.
Rudi is the beat man who lays the Bone-Thugs-reminiscent foundation for each eardrum-bumping track. While busy with wedding plans, he always has time to build beats from the ground up and e-mail them off to Vincent Jr. 2,000 miles away.
Vincent Jr.’s the “go-getter” and chief of 66’s lyrical power. It’s evident he eats, sleeps and breathes music.
Inside Serenity’s tiny frame is a wide vocal range, a sincere writing ability and a charming knack for storytelling. She spins incredible tales about spending her youth in one of the most impoverished villages in the Philippines. Ask her why they used to call her mother “Old MacDonald,” or how she’d dress in tatters like a homeless person just to “fit in.”
Aside from giggle-riddled recollections, what she garnered from her youth was something she says she learned from her mother.
“Whenever I go to a store and there’s a bucket for a charity. I can’t not drop my change in. I just can’t,” says Serenity.
Together 66 Studios represents Flagstaff—the progressive little island nestled in a state racked by controversial anti-immigration laws—and stands as a beacon of unity.
“No matter what you’re going through, you have to keep your head up. You can be something better,” Serenity says.
“I want to tell the kids that, regardless of what people do to bring you down, you can turn your situation into something positive,” Vincent Jr. says. He emphatically adds, “Stay on the right path.”
Later this year, Vincent Jr. says the group plans to tour the Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and, eventually, Phoenix elementary and high school circuits as motivational guest speakers.
“When you start to teach someone at an early age things they can take with them as they go on, they will pass that message on as they grow older.”
Even from across the country, Vincent Jr. still calls Flagstaff home. He says he hopes everyone, regardless of background will relate to 66 Studios’ songs.
“I had both parents growing up, and some of my friends were not from stable households. It can be hard to sit there and witness. That’s why I do the music that I do. With our music we’re going to continue to push through the community and schools and mainly concentrate on the youth because they are the future.”
Catch 66 Studios Fri, July 13 as they headline the Orpheum Theater, 15 W. Aspen, with special guests Mixed Facez, No-One-Self, Transfer, Downtown 2E, Classik, Traincity and Dub Friday. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., is free to the 21-and-older crowd and $5 for everyone under 21. All in attendance are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to the local food banks. For more info, see www.66studiosflagstaff.com or call 556-1580.