With a Bullet

Soloshot Records' efforts to pump up Denver hip-hop are right on target.

It is not uncommon for up-and-coming artists to be a little overzealous when it comes to promoting shows or new CDs: Just check the overcrowded windows of local music venues or the utility poles outside them, where musicians' fliers compete for space with apocalyptic decrees and ads for miracle weight-loss pills. It is less common, however, for a promotional campaign to result in a threat of felony charges being filed against those behind it. Earlier this summer, more than 3,000 full-color and hard-to-ignore posters made their way all over Denver -- from Five Points to Washington Park and all the way to Greenwood Village, the wealthy community that surrounds Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre. By the time the 107.5 Summer Jam touched down at the venue a couple of months ago, the citizens of Greenwood Village found their suburban oasis blanketed by hundreds of posters depicting three rather surly-looking individuals: rappers B-Rock, Errol and EP. Police were called. Homeowners were fully prepared to press felony charges on the grounds of destruction of property. Instead, the culprits were given a week to remove all the posters from the area. They worked fast.

The offending poster was promoting what is simply titled B-Rock*Errol*EP, the first release to emerge from Soloshot Records, a new Denver-based label that's taking aim at what its operators and primary artists -- B-Rock, Errol, EP (aka Brock Roulier, Errol Anderson and Spiro Korosis, respectively) -- perceive as the city's lackluster hip-hop scene. They say their somewhat guerrilla-like promotional campaign -- which seemed determined to ensure that even the business people who regularly trudge down LoDo streets absorbed the Soloshot name into some level of their subconscious -- is only one part of their plan to give the local scene a swift kick in the ass.

Of course, before there are posters, there must be a product. And Soloshot has a solid one with B-Rock*Errol*EP. Roulier produced the ten-track release, and his style, which he describes as "a party vibe with an edge," is extremely club-friendly without being overly simple or focusing too intently on the dance floor. The collection features two songs from each individual rapper as well as a "posse cut" featuring all three. It also contains two remixes by artists from genres not typically associated with hip-hop: DJs Disco-d, a house DJ/producer from Detroit who reworked B-Rock's cut "The Joint"; and Kenny Ken, a jungle DJ/producer from London, who also played with the same song.

According to Roulier, the goal of the compilation is to showcase his own production skills and introduce the other two rappers to the music lovers -- and buyers -- of the Front Range. And though releases by Denver hip-hop artists tend to saunter, rather than fly, out of local record-store bins, Roulier feels confident that the release will display each Soloshot artist as a competent entrant in the race to be among the first to break out of the area. "We're not a group," he explains, "but we bring a family vibe to everything that we do. We all have our own things going on, but we are all there for each other in the end."

According to Roulier, Rock*Errol*EP will be followed by a series of three solo LPs -- one for each rapper -- all of which he will produce. Beginning with the first release in early 2001, the albums will showcase each individual rapper's strengths and personal style within the hip-hop realm. Errol, who was born and raised in Jamaica, exhibits a style that reflects his roots in reggae and dancehall music; EP brings a sort of battle-rapping vibe and a more aggressive MC style; and the more musically minded B-Rock bases his raps around his beats.

The intro CD is already creating quite a nice buzz for the boys around town, as evidenced by steady sales and a couple of recent, well-attended shows at the Bluebird Theater. The disc is also attracting some surprise attention within England's jungle scene. At her most recent appearance in Denver, London's queen of the jungle, DJ Rap, cited Kenny Ken's remix of the "The Joint" as her favorite tune of the moment. And Ken himself has spun the song at every date he's played in the UK and the rest of the world, to a reportedly tremendous reaction from ravers.

Though the name that Roulier, Anderson and Korosis selected when forming their company reflects their sense of humor ("The name is sort of a joke," Roulier explains. "You got a date tonight? No, I'm riding soloshot."), it also alludes to the do-it-yourself work ethic on which the threesome has based it efforts so far. All of the Soloshot production work is done out of Roulier's apartment, which houses a studio he built himself. Roulier works as a customer-service rep during the day to be able to afford his nighttime passion. Ideally, he would like to see a larger record label step in and act as a distributor for Soloshot, much like Def Jam's relationship with Polygram. But until that day comes -- if it comes -- Soloshot will exist as a self-reliant entity.

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