By Drew AIles
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"It's crazy, but we don't care, because we love to travel," Doughboy says. "No group in this city can say that they've done over 65 shows out of the city but us."
Every year during spring break, the Klick takes its biggest trip. Doughboy and F.O.E. charter a bus bound for the Kappa Beach Party in Galveston, Texas, an event that recalls Atlanta's Freaknik weekend.
"It's a weekend of pure fun," Doughboy explains. "If you're somebody like us, it's somewhere you can go to push your product, get on stage and get out there so you can get booked at other venues. It's just a whole bunch of people out there trying to make it. All the majors are there. You might meet somebody from Rap-A-Lot or Priority. You'll see people like Eve, Cash Money, Baby. You could sell or give them your music. It's a big networking experience that a lot of people from Colorado could benefit from."
9 p.m. Mondays
Mozart Lounge, 1417 Krameria Street
With the National Blues
CHUN People's Fair
10:55 a.m. Saturday, June 7
While networking has helped boost the group's status outside of Denver, the Klick would like to see more local hip-hop talent cooperate to raise Colorado's profile.
"I don't know what it is. People are afraid to network together," F.O.E. says. "I think everybody wants to blow up, but nobody wants anybody to blow up before them. I think people are afraid to help people out with making it."
Instead of complaining about the scene, the group has taken a proactive approach in trying to get exposure for local artists. F.O.E and Doughboy serve as hosts of the popular public-access TV show, Hip Hop Madness. Produced and edited by F.O.E and local media stalwart Tito, the show airs a mix of videos by known and lesser-known artists, as well as videos, interviews and performances by locals.
"Hip Hop Madness started in 1997; I took it over in 1999," Tito says. "When I first came back to Denver from New York, I was like, 'No local people are getting any love?' People would come up to me all the time and put a CD in my face, and I was like, 'If I can develop my own format for local artists to come on the show, where you can put a face with the CD, then they can go ahead and get the CD sold.' You never know who could be watching. There could be a major producer who's here on business, flipping through the channels, who might hear something that catches his ear."
Hip Hop Madness has featured interviews with local artists such as Don Blas and Kingdom as well as sit-downs with performers rolling through town. Recent guests include Nappy Roots, Erykah Badu, Naughty by Nature and the Roots. Along with airing videos by artists whom BET would never touch -- such as Tech9ine and Kingpin Skinny Pimp -- the program also goes on location to places like the Kappa Beach Party and other music-industry conventions.
"We go to show rappers in our city what it looks like to go to a convention and see the different things that are going on," says Doughboy. "We go to the beach parties to show them where they can go market their product and make money with their product instead of staying so centralized in Denver."
The success of the program, which is currently seen in five states, has allowed the trio to launch an R&B-oriented show called The Groove Zone, which also spotlights local artists. (Hip Hop Madness airs Wednesdays at 11 p.m. and Fridays at 10 p.m. on DCTV Channel 57; The Groove Zone airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. and Fridays at 11 p.m., also on DCTV. Interested locals can call Tito at 720-297-1918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.) Ultimately, the guys hope to move the programs over to Channel 12 and reach a wider audience. The goal is to support local talent in the way that other cities, such as Houston and St. Louis, boost theirs. If Houston can help people like Lil' Flip move major units and St. Louis can launch Nelly, the same thing should happen here.
"If you push that one artist through the door and have the trust in him to go out there nationally, he's going to open up the door for everybody else," says Tito.
The Hilltop Klick would like to be that one group. So far, their united-we-stand campaign seems to be working for the betterment of Denver hip-hop: They rock the homies, the honkies and the hood rats.