Top 10 hip-hop artists who have the best chance of putting Denver on the map.
Mane Rok is a hip-hop purist that has consistently made his mark on the Denver hip-hop scene. He basically has a show every week all over Colorado as well as New Mexico and Arizona. Along with his innovative projects (En Stereo with producer Es Nine is my personal favorite) his inventive video for his song “This One’s,” a lyrical conviction of police brutality, had folks in the Denver community uniting for a cause.
This hip-hop trio, consisting of rapper A.V.I.U.S., producer extraordinaire Es-Nine, and world renowned turntablist Cysko Rokwel, make that boom bap hip-hop that any purist will love. The crew recently signed a distribution deal with Kamikazi Airlines (an imprint launched by Ugly Duckling’s Dizzy Dustin) and is in the planning stages of launching a tour and joining the Warped Tour this summer.
When a rapper gets co-signed by folks like Royce Da 5’9”, Big Pooh, Chino XL, Crooked I, Joe Budden, and producers Focus and Statik Selektah, it’s surely going to get some attention. Those are just a few artists that were featured on producer-rapper SP Double’s headbanging album, Loyalty, Honor, Respect. SP received nationwide coverage for the project and for fans who love that lyrical hip-hop, this is where you need to be. Don’t sleep.
When Trev Rich (p/k/a Rockie G 5) stepped on the Denver scene a few years ago, his youthful arrogance rubbed some folks the wrong way. But when he dropped his Uncensored mixtape last year, folks started to come around plus his songs were getting good rotations in the club scene around town. Now the young whipper snapper has dropped his latest mixtape, Gold Dreams
, with hopes of taking him to that next level. It does. Keep an eye out because he’s up next.
This husband and wife duo hark back to the days of the Native Tongue and when hip-hop had a cultural identity. Although Aja Black and Big Samir actually live in Colorado Springs, about 60 miles south of Denver, they’re consistently doing shows in town and rep Colorado whenever they’re touring. They recently tore the roof off the Apollo in Harlem and toured Morocco. Oh yeah, Aja sings and raps while Samir raps in both English and French. Remind you of anyone?
This hip-hop band has been rocking Denver stages for quite some time and continues to bring an innovative and creative sound every year. The band even saw some of their songs placed on MTV shows Jersey Shore and I Used to Be Fat. Now with an album and a couple of EPs under their belt, the band is gearing up to release a new album this summer. Plus getting mentioned in New Music Seminar’s top 100 “Artists on the Verge,” helps the fellas move closer to putting Denver on the map.
Pries is already tailor-made for music world success. Musically, his production team consistently hits him with club and radio-ready joints while lyrically Pries’ stories of college life, achieving his dreams and just straight partying are relatable to any 20-something trying to find their place in the world. With five top-notch albums under his belt, it’s possible Pries could be Denver’s Wiz Khalifa if the music gets in the right hands.
Last year Myke Charles was the first rapper and a star attraction on NBC’s The Sing-Off as part of the acapella group Urban Method. Even though the group didn’t win, they finished in the top three and judges and fans alike fawned over Charles. Along with the current shows and touring with Urban Method, Myke is consistently dropping new music on his own, including his banging mixtape, Lift-Off with Denver’s DJ Chonz, and with his hip-hop group, Fresh Breath Committee. He’s closer than you think.
Unlike anything else in the Denver scene, the BLKHRTS make dark, raw hip-hop inspired by goth, punk and industrial rock but it’s far from any type of rock rap. It’s too street for that label. The trio, consisting of Denver emcees Yonnas, King FOE and Karma tha Voice, have been consistently pushing out new music, getting booked for multiple SXSW gigs every year and receiving coverage in the L.A. Times, among other outlets. Their live show is so hype that mosh pits aren’t out of place.
Consisting of four emcees, two producers and a band, in the last year Foodchain have been creating a buzz large enough to catch the attention of Shady Records. The group was personally invited by Eminem’s manager and Shady exec Paul Rosenberg to perform a set at the Shady Records Showcase at this year’s SXSW Festival. Along with coverage across a handful major hip-hop sites they get consistent radio play on Sirius XM’s Shade 45 and have a live show that will convert any non-believer. Foodchain is just minutes away.