Community member Guy Goodwin performes as MC Optimal.

Optimism Keeps MC Optimal On His Talent As Hip Hop MC

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

At the young age of 6, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Guy Goodwin was living and breathing hip-hop. Goodwin, along with (as he remembers) his sister Mesha Goodwin; Bennett Manuel, Jr.; D.A. Enos; Tutor Biakeddy; Justin Azule; and some other people from Salt River were part of Legion of Doom, a break-dancing group that performed in shows throughout Arizona and surrounding states.

Later, as he hit his preteen years, Goodwin’s music interest changed to death metal music, but he would come back to the hip-hop culture. As a young adult, he became a DJ and dabbled in some MCing, but with his growing love for rhyming he is now focusing on MCing.

The Good Old Days
When Goodwin was young, he remembers his expertise was in doing windmills, a break-dancing move in which the dancer rolls his torso continuously in a circular path on the floor, pivoting across the upper chest, shoulders, and back, while twirling his legs in a V-shape through the air.

“I was real young going to events to break-dance and getting the chance to travel,” said Goodwin. “Our group was always battling against other break-dance groups; I just remember being all excited and looking around when we went to places. I would just be messing around playing as a kid, and when they needed me I would go in and bust some windmills. At the time I was the youngest kid who would do these flawless windmills.”

As all the old memories came back to Goodwin, he shared a story about an event the Legion of Doom participated in. He remembered he got stage fright because he heard everyone saying that there was a ton of people in the audience.

“I was nervous; I got dizzy and sick,” Goodwin said. “My cousin Bennett went on and he started doing all these moves—he does a head spin breaking into a windmill, breaking into a backspin, going into a shuffle, going into a head spin, a shuffle going into a hand spin, and then [he] busts down and spins on one knee and stops perfectly and points to me,” said Goodwin. “I’m behind the curtains and I just freeze. My cousins Sandy and Erica Hicks and my sister Mesha are pushing me to go out on the stage, and I was just scared. I take off running, I don’t even look at the stage, but once I get out there I just shuffle and break out into a windmill and Bennett goes into a windmill at the same time and all I can hear is this big roar of cheering. I just do the windmills and I spin on my back and pop up and I just look at Bennett and I don’t even look at the crowd because I’m scared. Then we walk out.”

That was the beginning of his love of hip-hop.

Best Friends
In 1994 Goodwin and his friends Sal Montoya, Sal Chiago, the late Malcolm “X-Man” Watuma, Jamie Jackson, Kasey Kauakahi and other friends started DJing and MCing.

“My friends started getting into DJing,” said Goodwin. “My then brother-in-law Jamie Jackson and I started getting into it too. We would buy records and tapes and make mix tapes from a rigged-up tape player and record player. But once we turned 18 and got our claims money, we purchased turntables, that was a given.”

Goodwin worked as a DJ until he was 21, performing at house parties around Salt River.

“Scratching was something I was always fascinated with; [for] that I would always get DJ Qbert’s Turntable TV,” said Goodwin. “Mixing came natural to me; it really didn’t take me that long to learn how to match the snare between records and how to adjust the tempos on the beats per minute for each record on how I can blend [them] in. The first main focus was DJing, then I started getting into scratching, until my cousin Logan ‘DJ Element’ Howard blew me away in that area.”

DJing is something Goodwin still likes to do here and there, but mainly at home.

Let the Rhymes Flow
Around 2002, Goodwin and his friend Sal Montoya began working together, focusing more on MCing, something they had done as teenagers. The two begin working on an EP together; it took them about a month to finish and they handed it around among friends. But as the men matured and became fathers, they were both obligated to take care of their families.

“I started doing free-styling in Phoenix and Tempe mainly, at venues such as the Big Fish Pub and Stray Cats, and there used to be this place called the Lucky Dragon,” said Goodwin on how he started pursuing MCing under the name “MC Optimal.”

“I started getting noticed by an artist me and my friends used to listen to, a guy that goes by the name Volume 10 who was out in L.A.,” explained Goodwin. “He became a host at Majerle’s starting these freestyle nights. I started showing up every weekend and started getting my name out from that point and started getting noticed.”

After getting noticed at the freestyle events for his MCing, Goodwin met a producer named Foundation, who produces a group called the Insects.

“I got their attention. I would always meet them at these hip-hop spots and we always [wound] up encountering each other and complimenting each other,” said Goodwin. “Foundation kept telling me that he wanted me to come to his studio. I took it into consideration, but didn’t take it too [seriously]. I wasn’t too sure because I didn’t know him that well. I finally got over there to his studio and did my first album, called The Land Mind Frescos. That one took me the longest because I did more than half of it at home. I recorded it at home, and when I was trying to finish it, my computer crashes and I lose everything. So I basically have to redo the beats and I had to rewrite some of the songs, and after that I took it to the studio and basically redid the whole album at the studio.”

Goodwin received major interest from a record label called Taxidermy Records from Portland, Oregon; they wanted to sign him, along with the Insects. But unfortunately Goodwin was delayed in finishing his album to the point where he thought it was good enough for the record label to review.

He is currently working on getting his second album started with the producer Foundation (confirm name) and getting his name out there with different shows, both solo shows and with his band The Arrows. The band consists of a drummer/keyboardist, bass player, a DJ and Goodwin as the MC.

The Inspiration Behind the Music
“I was inspired a lot by Black Thought and Mos Def; J-Live was a real big inspiration when it came to being real smart. That dude really opened my eyes when it came to [how] these songs can be really good for you,” said Goodwin.

“Some people get the wrong idea about hip-hop [music], that it’s negative, it’s lazy, it’s a quick way to try to get famous or rich. I can understand [that] from some of the things I hear,” said Goodwin.

When he heard the MC and rapper Aloe Blacc from the group called Emanon, Goodwin was inspired so much by how positive Blacc is and the good feelings and energy he inspires that he decided to name his first child after him. Goodwin named his daughter Aloea, adding an “A” at the end.

Goodwin eventually attended one of Blacc’s shows and was able to meet him.
“I went to one of his shows at the Lucky Dragon and it was awesome,” said Goodwin. His DJ and producer is named Exile. “I talked to Exile after the show and told him I loved both of them and that they inspired me so much, and that Aloe Blacc inspired me so much I named my first child after him. Exile was like, ‘No way!’ I explained that her name was Aloea. Exile went back and told Aloe Blacc and he came out and met me. He asked if I had a picture of her, so I wrote down her name and the date she was born, and he kept it. So till this day I’m hoping he still has it. Then he gives me all these free CDs and merchandise.”

Thankful for Support
Goodwin’s inspiration to become an MC comes from his love of storytelling. “Talking witty, smart expressions and what are called metaphors [inspired me], and just the pictures that got in my head when I heard really dope MCs who were really dope storytellers,” he said. “Others would be just word play through the whole verse, but the cadence of rhyme styles and the deliveries are what inspired me to become an MC.”

His family, friends and the Community all have been overwhelmingly supportive, explained Goodwin. “My girlfriend, Day Makil, has been there from the beginning. She is definitely a critic I listen to. She knows her hip-hop, so I do listen to her, but I listen to anyone who will give me criticism. If someone comes up to me and says, ‘You sound like this guy,’ I will take that half as a compliment and the other half as ‘OK, let me try not to bite that guy.’

“It feels good to have all this support, not only from my family but from the Community. I have a lot of friends out here who are very supportive. I believe I’ve done enough but I really can’t stop doing what I love doing.”


MC Optimal
Upcoming Shows

October 28: at Stray Cat Bar & Grill in Tempe
October 29: at Crabby Don’s Bar & Grill in Gilbert
November 4: at the Memorial Union at Arizona State University

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