Denver hip-hop artists Alex Gage, aka AG Flux, and Josh Warner, aka Just Enough Food, first crossed paths in 2012 while performing with their respective crews, Black Mask and Travellers Music. Over the years, the MCs/producers have attempted to create space to showcase area artists. On Thursday, May 3, they'll launch their latest effort, a bi-monthly hip-hop and visual-art event dubbed Family Ties.
“It was an idea we’ve always had that I wanted to build with other creatives in mind that was just more than a show,” Gage says. He would create “an experience that we could put every musician on a platform equally and showcase talent in different mediums of that work. We wanted that full experience.”
In their time performing as rappers, Gage and Warner noticed a disconnect among audiences at hip-hop shows.
“A lot of the times, it’s like, ‘What time are you playing? When is your set?'” Warner says. “People just stay at the bar to see their homies.”
To combat this, they decided to set up performances throughout the evening in what they describe as a “carousel”: Four MCs will perform two to three songs each in a round-robin format that Warner hopes will keep audience members engaged with all of the artists, not just their friends.
“If anyone comes to see me, they’ll see me perform and someone else, definitely,” he says. “No one will get burnt out on any set, so it’ll be kind of a new concept…constantly moving.”
But the night isn’t just about the MCs. Different DJs will perform during set breaks, and artists, including Chris Reano and Delton Demarest, will live-paint and project visual art during the performances. “Anytime you have visual art and an MC, it attracts eyes more,” Warner explains.
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By combining different artists and art forms, the event aims to provide an organic opportunity for creatives to connect and perhaps collaborate in the future, forming new relationships across social circles.
“It takes a lot of energy to make your own art,” Gage says. “Then to bring other people in is tough. We’re trying to slowly put some hands out rather than me and Josh [just throwing] a show anyway. Why not try to put these people, that we really enjoy their music and art — why not put it together in the same room? And maybe from that, everybody can get something different from the show. Maybe Ill Se7en talks to a photographer or a painter and says ‘You could really do some stuff on my next project.”
With a night like Family Ties, Warner hopes to plant “a lot of seeds for future altruistic endeavors.”