United They Stand

Three locals are using the media to put Colorado hip-hop on the map.

With Rhythm Visions, Baptiste has a great platform with which to promote State of the Union, where he is a committed contributor and cheerleader. Also part of State is Abdul-Khaaliq, who at press time was lessening his involvement in KGNU's Eclipse in favor of a new, as-yet-untitled program he hopes to have on the station soon, as well as a second, "underground" radio broadcast that has already spawned a number of mix tapes that are commercially available. (Call 509-2242 to learn more about these last two ventures.) Abdul-Khaaliq is scheduled to write a regular State feature called "Pre-School," so named, he says, because "instead of focusing on old school or new school, I'll be looking at the early days of rap and how it was more revolutionary, and more about self-awareness. I want to introduce people to early griots like the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron, and let some of the younger generation become a little more aware of where hip-hop's roots come from."

"I'm upset with hip-hop right now," he goes on. "I'm tired of all the videos with everybody sipping champagne and people pretending they're Italian when they're black, and watching all the sisters parading around half-nude. To me, none of this is helping people out. Hip-hop used to be an art form, and it can be again if we can get away from all the crime and the bullshit that goes on. That's where I'm coming from, and I'm trying to pull Colorado in the same direction."

Folks from outside the area are beginning to recognize the efforts of Abdul-Khaaliq and his associates. The Source, one of the country's most widely read rap and R&B publications, is scheduled to run an article by journalist Mark Armstrong about Denver-Boulder hip-hop in its January issue. With encouragement like this, the group behind State of the Union (including graphic designer Petey Helm) believes that its time has come. The magazine is starting modestly--2,000 copies per issue, with distribution to Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. But the numbers aren't as important to Smith as is State's mere existence.

"We're trying to uplift the scene in general," he says. "We just want to get this area known, and I think that's what we're going to accomplish.

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