Nine Denver Hip-Hop Artists You Need To Know — 2016 Edition
Nikki A. Rae
What is Denver hip-hop? What does it sound like, and what does it stand for? There is a lot of discussion surrounding these questions, trying to pin labels on the Colorado hip-hop community. While definitive answers are in short supply, talent is not. As an introduction, here are nine hip-hop artists (appearing in alphabetical order) from the Denver area — some established, some up-and-coming, all of whom happen to be women — to whom you should lend your ears.
Courtesy of the artist's Facebook
"Rap chicks do rap shit," says A'Dula — and she says it often. In fact, since her 2012 debut mixtape Propaganda, A'Dula quite willingly has said whatever the hell is on her mind, and if that happens to offend anybody, get out of her way. Lyrics will get spit, rhymes laid down: You might as well just enjoy it.
8. Aja Black of the ReMINDers
Colorado Springs duo the ReMINDers are an important force, and those who have never heard them should check them out immediately. Offering soulful roots blended with incisive and intelligent rhymes, the group carries a positive message both on stage and in the studio. The 2012 album Born Champions is a killer, but it's in the live arena, such as at the 2015 Artopia event, that they excel. Both Black and her vocal sparring partner Big Samir have charisma for days, and they flow together seamlessly.
Aurora's Dosha Harris, aka D'Girl, has been bubbling on the surface of the local rap scene for a few years now, always threatening to surge ahead. In 2011, Westword's Ru Johnson wrote, "The twenty-year-old, who's been rhyming since age thirteen, carries herself with the poise of a veteran and has a magnetic delivery that merges elements of lyrical flavor with the style of MCs like Drake and Nicki Minaj." That remains a pretty spot-on description.
Courtesy of the artist
6. Jurnee Manley
Although Jurnee is just sixteen and new to the scene in Denver, she is blazing past the competition — including a run on the most recent season of American Idol. The young singer has a smooth voice with a diva-level range. Still a student at Littleton High School, Jurnee has just completed a new mixtape and will be releasing it soon.
Kalyn Heffernan: razor-sharp yet somehow chill.
5. Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp
We almost decided to leave Heffernan off of this list, because we've written about her so much in recent years. But a list of female MCs in this region that doesn't include Kalyn just doesn't make sense. Heffernan is a force of nature, and she's gathered a group of musicians together who do her rhymes justice. No easy feat, because Heffernan has a gift for writing lyrics that are both witty and thought-provoking, razor-sharp yet somehow chill. Whether she's talking about sexuality, misogyny or anything else that catches her fancy, WSC makes for compelling listening.
Read on for four more of Denver's top female MCs.
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