By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
The January 15, 1998, edition of this column introduced you to Big Pauli & Mr. V-Lo, a spinoff from the Denver hip-hop act Deuce Mob ("Join the Mob," February 14, 1996). The Mob's breakup, which took place after the group opened for the Ice Cube side project Westside Connection in November 1996, was acrimonious: Big Pauli (aka Paul Lopez) revealed that the situation "almost got violent." He added that the new duo sometimes appears as the Deuce Mob Originalz because "we're the ones who started Deuce Mob in the first place, and now we're going to keep it going with this project."
Fabian Garcia, who goes by the handle DJ Fame, has a different point of view. He was also part of Deuce Mob and served as one of its key creative forces. (In the January 15 column, Big Pauli complained that "Fabian wanted to run the whole show--we didn't have any say-so.") As such, he feels that he is the legitimate owner of the Deuce Mob moniker, which he continues to use when he appears live. "It's mine," Garcia says. "Those other guys may be calling themselves the Deuce Mob Originalz, but they ain't doing shit."
Garcia certainly is. As head of the local label Concrete Poetry, he's a mini-mogul, complete with a growing roster of acts and a handful of CDs that have made a big noise in the underground market. He's also a promoter, and he sees the hip-hop showcase he's assembled for Latin Jam '98, a twelve-hour bash taking place on Sunday, September 6, at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Brighton, as an opportunity to introduce some of the talent he's assembled to a broader audience. The crowds who arrive to catch the "Latin Legends Live" triumvirate of Malo, Tierra and El Chicano will also get a chance to check out performers who either are signed to Concrete Poetry or appeared on Concrete Poetry: The Mile High Underground, Vol. 1, a compilation that hit stores last year. They include Garcia's Deuce Mob, G-Som, Loco Mente Clique, Arapahoe T.R.U.E.S., A.W.B. (the letters stand for "Average White Boy") and Felon (a former member of Deuce Mob who was in prison when the outfit's 1996 CD, Going Solo, debuted).
The presence of many of these groups at an event geared for families may seem surprising. After all, G-Som, profiled in these pages in 1992, set the standard for street-tough rap in the Denver hip-hop scene of the early Nineties. The combo's association with Trips Enterprises, a firm that the FBI later charged with running an interstate drug ring, raised eyebrows as well, even though none of the musicians were implicated in any wrongdoing (Feedback, September 7, 1994). However, Garcia insists that "a lot of the people in G-Som have matured, and they've gotten more insight into the business side of things. This isn't going to be a hardcore rap show. The songs that we do will be for everybody. It won't have any vulgarity or anything like that. This is going to be a professional show."
At the same time, Garcia certainly doesn't want anyone to think that Concrete Poetry has gone soft; he expects future albums to contain plenty of variety, but he says hardcore rap will remain an important component. Such a balance is struck well on Mile High Underground, Vol. 1, an excellent-sounding CD that places nasty stuff like G-Som's "What's Next?" and "Bangin 2 Da Fullest," by Araphaoe T.R.U.E.S., alongside D-Sharp's smooth "Can I Ride?" and Billie Jean's femme-friendly "Wise." Also made with an ear toward crossing over is Loco Mente Clique's "Summertime Maddness," a CD single with a cool, breezy feel that contrasts sharply with the bad-as-we-wanna-be verbal thuggery of another Concrete Poetry effort, GIX, by Gloc 9. The latter album features Salvino Martinez, who Denver police believe was the target in a gangland shooting that ended in the death of a young mother, Venus Montoya; some of the same gangmembers fingered in the Montoya murder were later implicated in the death of fifteen-year-old Brandy Duvall. Authorities believe that some of the songs of GIX touch on such incidents, including "Westword Hoes," which makes reference to this newspaper (for more details, see the Steve Jackson story "Gangster's Rap," November 27, 1997).
This kind of material may give the boys in blue nightmares, but it makes for extra credibility in the rap universe--which helps explain why Concrete Poetry products recently inked a national distribution pact. Garcia, who spent much of this year performing as part of a tour sponsored by Lowrider magazine, aims to capitalize on this deal over the course of the next year with a slew of new releases, including full-lengths by G-Som, Loco Mente Clique and A.W.B., plus The Mile High Underground, Vol. 2. "I've been really busy," Garcia says. "And I'm going to stay that way."
In April, Robert McMurray, whose nickname is Trip, dug into his own pocket in order to start a radio show--CPR, which stands for "Colorado Punk Radio." The program aired for two hours every Monday evening on KKYD-AM/1340, a tiny outlet that was in a transitional period; the station had dropped its previous format, which focused on children's music, and was broadcasting danceable sounds dubbed "Beat Radio" as a stopgap in anticipation of an impending sale. Well, the transaction finally happened: KKYD's owner, Minneapolis-based Children's Broadcasting, peddled the station to California's Salem Communications, which plans to turn it into a Catholic-themed signal. Since Trip didn't play many CDs by Pope John Paul II, he looked to be out of luck. But because of his persistence, he's managed to find a new home for his creation. CPR can now be heard from 7 to 8 Sunday nights on KRRF-AM/1280 (Ralph) immediately before another music program, Brian Pavlik's all-local Soundcheck.