A Sitdown With Roqy Tyraid

A Godly Flow Runs Through The Desert

MC Bravado
13 min readJun 8, 2021

Roqy Tyraid is one of Phoenix’s finest. He respects the craft and the history of the culture while bringing the type of dexterity and ingenuity that only those who have put in their 10,000 hours can bring. He’s dedicated, unflappable, and ready to make a long-overdue leap into the upper-echelon of Hip Hop’s most respected lyricists. I’ve recently gotten to know the homie a bit, peep the process, word to Hinkie:

Every hero has an origin story, tell me yours:

My origin story, huh? I’ve always been on this singular journey to immerse myself in the world of music and creativity since as far back as I can remember. As kids, we rapped at the lunch table, battled at the sports complexes and house parties. It was as if my life as a creative was predetermined.

Somehow after high school, I ended up in Phoenix in pursuit of my goals as a lone wolf, unaware of what I’m doing or where I was. It quickly became about being the best in my new city, which involved battles, putting out records on local forums which fueled street competition, securing respect and rotation on specialty shows like Rhyme and Reason and The Pulse, fighting to break the social gates of an insulated scene. Selling thousands of CDs out of my car. Building a reputation.

After securing the respect and recognizing that as an individual it doesn’t equate to much, as the internet removed the whole “regional” aspect of things, I ran after the blogs, gaining enough wind to lift my plane up before the golden era of blogs dissipated.

I’ve always been this rough-and-tumble, DIY kind of dude so that naturally made me the underdog, perceptively. Too underground for the mainstream, too unorthodox to be fit inside an ever antiquating “boom box” or “traditionalist” category. Honestly, it’s because I’ve lived a life. From your everyday experiences to being around revolutionaries, street dudes, academics, nerd culture. Once I recognized my own diverse experiences made my story unique, I started to see this inability to classify myself, as a strength. I’m not just some exceptional lyricist, it’s important to me that folks are advocated for. Understood.

But still, with all of my adventures and mishaps, I’ve always been lurking just outside the door. It used to get to me. Now I just want to burn the house down.

Can you trace the origins of your love for Hip Hop to a specific record or artist?

Absolutely! My earliest memory is Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power.” I had to have been maybe three. Clearly didn’t recognize what they were talking about but the beat, the energy, and all the Black people who looked like me had me hypnotized. It was like my Sesame Street [laughs]. My second most impressionable record was LL’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” which if I’m being completely honest while talking to you, is probably because they use the same Clyde Stubblefield drum! That’s crazy, I just realized that now! Obviously, the aesthetics and the energy were wild. Some singular Black dude rapping in the middle of a ring. Black & white film.

I can see where the aggressive nature of some of my content comes from. It all makes sense ya? Another would be later on with Busta Rhymes. He has to be nuts. His visuals were always incredible and he was the coolest dude on the mic.

Tell me about the Hip Hop scene in Phoenix. Pros and Cons of the scene? How did the scene shape you? Who are the most prominent or even your favorite artists who emerged from that scene?

The hip-hop scene in Phoenix is incredible. I really can’t state this enough. There’s so much talent and potential out here, and it’s been an honor to be considered a trailblazer of the community. The banner I hold has so much history in it. Off the top, I have to name Mega Ran, Mr. Miranda, Penny The Great, MedafOracle. Always have to shout my bro Emmitt Dupree, he’s one to watch for sure.

The pros? It’s insolated. We have some of the best videographers in the west like Jon from Soundvision, and Irin “Roca Dolla” Daniels who along with Pokafase are two of the rap scene’s forefathers I’ve grown to call friends. At one point in time, we had the most “underground hip hop” shows on the radio. A huge Hip Hop festival that’s eight years strong. Amazing tour stop for acts so the shows are always on point. Just an overall great breeding ground.

When I came here it was the wild west, though [laughs]. A little tougher. The pond was smaller, the competition was tougher. The opportunities were limited. The fight was a microcosm for the greater industry, so I learned myself and my mistakes early.

Cons? The same as any other scene. There are aspects of the scene that chase the clout, the appearance of buzz rather than analyzing the entirety of the scene for not just creative quality but those who actually get busy outside of the local watering hole. As I said, every scene experiences this, and the only reason I even mention that is so someone reading this from a different city can go “oooh okay” and stop chasing recognition. Find your tribe.

The genesis of your name is dope and includes a legend. Tell the people about that:

When I first relocated to Phoenix the scene was in its infancy, as I stated above. I went by J RoQ. There used to be this thing called Rapstock, where the promoter would stuff like thirty acts on one bill on a random weeknight. In retrospect yo, “why?” [laughs] But that was our culture! So, anyhow, during these shows, you’re essentially rapping to a bunch of rappers, their homies, their girls, etc, so cynicism and arrogance are as accessible as air! I remember being pissed off at the crossed arms, the “yeah, so” looks from what’s effectively competition, when I’m killing it. So, I spaz and go into a freestyle and diss the crowd. This became a regular thing with me coining it as “going on a tirade.”

My bro Chino XL who I knew since about 16, was discussing my name being an issue because there’s already a world-famous Beat Junkie legend named J Rocc and then there was this certain guy coming out of Watts with the same name [laughs]. I had accidentally introduced myself to Rocc using the same name and embarrassed myself. In recounting both of these things, Chi goes “yo, son. That’s it. Tirade.” I’m hardheaded and wanted to keep my name. So I forced RoQ into it. It came to reflect my penchant for whimsicality. One day I may give you something grounded. The next I may drag the listener through an intense record [laughs]. You pick!

Tell me about California as well as your group. I know tragedy struck. Whatever you feel comfortable discussing. Otherwise, cool to skip.

Na man, it’s all good. I was originally a part of a group called Tak Ovr Ent with my brother 60 East out in the IE. We were younger artists in a collective of brothers, his blood brother being DJ Metric and our brother in rhyme and life being the late, great Space Ghost. Essentially, he was the flagship artist of our collective and made a pretty heavy name for himself in the sector, from battling to really being one of the first acts to grind his music out. A talented, talented emcee with a futuristic ear for lyricism at the time. Even though I relocated to Phoenix for school, I’d drive out every week to the point where I basically lived out there [laughs] just to be around the energy and my brothers.

With Space and Metric’s plans, Space Ghost executed creating a substantial buzz and turning some heads out in LA. The plan was to introduce our brother and let the rest fall like dominoes. You know how it goes, though — the universe has other plans. After all of that, we sort of did our own things, with me concentrating on finding myself as a solo act in my new home of Phoenix. I’m dedicating this run to my brother, though. Space Ghost’s Revenge, if you will.

I’ve released a bunch under Soulspazm as well (s/o Mr. Drew and the gang.) Tell me about your experience with them and how you feel about them as a distributor:

Ayyye we’re distro labelmates look at that! Soulspazm treated me like a real artist. Respect, ya know? Jim always shows love and has been there to do what he can for me when my footprint was nearly unrecognizable. I didn’t feel lost in the numbers or stratified. Soulspazm is responsible for putting out my first album (The Dichotomy of RoQy TyRaiD) and honestly, again for someone with a minimal footprint at the time, it helped out significantly. Shout out to my brother Slopfunkdust as well.

Which collaboration(s) are you most proud of? Elaborate.

I think comes off expected but my favorite collaboration to date is with DJ Green Lantern. Really, it’s because his work with my favorite emcees is what of the key things that inspired me. I remember being in certain places and hearing certain excerpts from mixtapes. I remember where I was when I heard “Number One Spot” by Ludacris. In fact, I nearly hydroplaned on the interstate speeding and rapping to that record [laughs].

I mean this is the ear that’s privy to Nas, Jay, Em — Royce. So getting to go Super Saiyan and showcase what this random fighter from the desert is working with — that was an honor, a mile marker, and an indication of greater things ahead. I wrote “Tikka Masala” and “MC4Real” in my head while sitting on my bed. “Rectified” sitting on my couch waiting for my girl at the time to get ready so we could go to the movies. Was in my zone.

How is your upcoming work different from what you’ve done to date?

I get to experiment and try new sounds. I get to express a little more about myself. The opportunity to chronicle my feelings and personal truths in those moments. In my first project “The Dichotomy of RoQy Tyraid”, it was a leap forward for me but I’m so comfortable now, with all I’ve gone through. With everything that I’ve experienced as a man, as a creative, as a Black man. All the traveling I’ve done and the subcultures that have left an impact on me.

How does your stage show differ from your performance in the studio?

I used to be one of those artists who bragged about being “one take jake” in the booth. Getting out what I can get out in as close to perfect as possible, but that wasn’t perfection. Perfection is understanding what you are creating is a painting. That brushstroke needs to be intent, as you want your final product to match your vision. Plus hearing how meticulous some of my favorite artists are, really helped. Heads love my older work but I listen to it then listen to my new stuff and cringe [laughs]. Such a rapper, fam.

The shows, however?! That’s when you get to let loose and power up. Everything is so organic. Every breath, every expression, even the mistakes are all part of your live performance. Leave it all on stage, I say. The opportunity to deliver what you worked so meticulously on, to the audience is amazing. Them knowing it is even better. Making them a part of the songs they’ve come to appreciate is a different level of connection. I want them to experience my energy with me. This is our energy. Spirit bomb.

I can’t afford to think I’d be better suited in another era because it’s fantasy, defeatist, and gives me an excuse to not go as hard.

Is the landscape of the industry as it stands today beneficial for you? Or do you think you’re better suited in another era? I know you did well in the blog era, so this made sense to ask. Elaborate.

I can’t afford to think I’d be better suited in another era because it’s fantasy, defeatist, and gives me an excuse to not go as hard. There are benefits to today’s workings because there are so many avenues to explore and take advantage of. Even with the blog era, there were still a select number of curators with their own qualifiers and everyone was vying for those limited spots. And unless you took the time to build with “smaller” blogs they weren’t going to just play anything not pre-approved. Saw a lot of acts with the potential that decided to hang it up out of frustration. Though I did appreciate those entities for what they were.

Benefits in both eras. Same with cons. We’re here, though.

You do fit today’s profile with regards to firing off consistent content. To what do you attribute that ability? I don’t think most people have an appreciation for how difficult that is to do, especially with quality. Take me back to rapping about current events and how said consistently led to The Wake Up Show: Unplugged. Tell me about a young Paak, etc.

Yes, I like other experienced acts had to learn to stop relying on “the album” so much. Just get this work. Being a perfectionist did hurt me until I realized perfectionism isn’t objective.

Yeah man, I owe a lot of it to my time doing The Podium years ago. I was tasked with rapping quality records about the news of the week for six months straight. Once I figured out “difficulty” was a matter of perspective, I was off.

Really, The Wake Up Show stuff is what happens when good people help good people hear your music. I had already been building my buzz in whatever limited ways I could and got word from Skyyhook that the Wake Up crew heard my records and would be playing them. That led to the intro you hear to this day, which also led to the surprise taping of Wake Up Show: Unplugged.

In short, because I’ve been a little winded here, we were told to fly to LA for a show they’re throwing together. They were sparse on details but who am I to ask for clarification. Will there be a DJ and a mic? Okay.

So the day comes, we get to a building we were apparently convening at before heading out. Told us to make ourselves at home. I walk around the building and discover I’m in the actual studio for Wake Up Show. I walk into a rehearsal room and there’s a whole live setup. Told us to do our thing as a take. That take ended up being the real deal. Tricked us! [laughs]

Man. Anderson .Paak is dope. Dude literally disappears into his creativity, and it’s no surprise he has become such an iconic figure in music. Watching him effectively freestyle drum patterns to rap patterns was mind-blowing. I don’t know how many jam sessions he was in with everyone else but we never met! [laughs] Yeah, mile marker moment for me.

I have issues with dudes who are rappity rap for the sake of being rappity rap. With that said, we can both “rap, rap”, can you explain the difference for the people? I feel like too many listeners take the bait.

I don’t dig on it. Rapping fast and calling it “bars.” Constructing half thought up lines and calling it “bars.” Then there’s the conviction — or the lack thereof. Unfortunately, I have a lot of “yeah, but what are you really saying” moments when analyzing other acts. These thoughts, why are you delivering them. It’s like pizza, you’re giving me the same slice I had before. What’s so unique about this basic, greasy, doughy slice of carbs.

I think elitism and what people classify as “real hip hop” are creatively stunting people and lowering the bar. Treating lyricism as “who’s the most multisyllabic” and just analyzing it in this mathematical way is the total opposite of what it means to really rap. You are an instrument, not a machine. Lyrics are language and what is language without expression and tonality? The difference is night and day when there’s soul and conviction. Also, thank you and respect back to you!

I couldn’t have said it better…You’re in the same elevator as Hov, sell him before he steps off.

There’s a missing voice out there going unrepresented by our culture. Also, I can rap my ass off? I don’t know. I’m trash at selling myself. [laughs] All I need is ten seconds of music time for most people, though. That’s a different story. Hopefully, my art will continue to speak for me.

I feel that lol. 5 Desert Island Albums you can’t go without and why:

As in five albums that I’d need on a deserted island? Hmm. This answer is subject to change by the hour. Currently Busta Rhyme’s E.L.E., Snoop’s Tha Last Meal, and Method’s Tical: 2000 because they were all instrumental in me falling in love with hip hop to the point of imitating it, ya know? And we’re just glorified fans. Contemporary albums would be Roc Marciano’s Rosebudd’s Revenge 2 because that’s immaculate penmanship and P Money’s Snakes 2 because it’s high-quality bars that also serve as hype records.

More fives…Where are you in 5 years?

Bigger adventures, higher engagement, bigger shows, better life experiences. More equity. Happy.

The pleasure is on this side of the table, good sir. Please tell the people where to find you, what you have coming up, and whatever else you want them to know:

I’m going to continue releasing records as my frequent “Tyraid Tuesday” series is concerned. More music is coming and soon, that I can promise. Thank you to all the new heads as well as the ones who patiently stuck with me throughout the years.

Keep up to date on music and me and general at @RoqyTyraid on IG and Twitter. Facebook.com/TheCultureIsBack and of course by following me on all your favorite streaming platforms so you get it first when it drops. Subscribe baby. The show is just starting!

I’m your friendly neighborhood MC Bravado; many thanks for reading. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or your favorite place to grab music. Please remember to be kind to one another and that “Michael Jordan is the GOAT” is a fact and not an opinion.



MC Bravado

The greatest Rapper/English Teacher to grace the Earth, ever. As seen/heard on many a noteworthy publication, record, and stage. www.MCBravado.com @MCBravado