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The ten best hip-hop DJs in Denver

DJ Ktone with B.o.B. at his birthday celebration earlier this year.
DJ Ktone with B.o.B. at his birthday celebration earlier this year.
Ken Hamblin

Denver's hip-hop scene is ripe with talent, especially in terms of the great DJs that fans have access to. You can walk into dozens of clubs, bars, patios, pool parties or even corporate events that just happen to be hosted by one of the town's best. The competition is stiff, and a following here can easily be lost virtually overnight. The ten DJs (plus a few honorable mentions) on this list have the accolades, longevity, technical skills, marketing ability and hustle to keep their crowds.

10. DJ Shakeone

Shakeone is often overlooked as one of the premier DJs in the scene, but this year certainly solidified his place, with a victory over Cysko Rokwel at the 2014 DMC regional finals. He has been a regional and national finalist multiple times, and his cutting, juggling and mixing skills are top-tier. Shakeone gives that nostalgic feel for those yearning for the good old days of vinyl and two tables. He's rocked parties for T.I., Governor Hickenlooper and even Charlie Sheen. He also won the King of Lodo DJ Championship 2014.

9. DJ Topshelf

Topshelf is one of the newest DJs to solidify a place in the scene. Hailing from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but currently a Denver fan favorite, he's a member of the Core DJs. Topshelf has quickly become of one of the premier party rockers and has a mix show on Sirius radio's Shade 45. Often he is one of the main DJs for 3Deep productions concerts, rocking heavy with a Southern bevy of hits. He can be found weekly at clubs, banging the latest hits while mixing in exclusive underground tracks from Denver and around the country.

8. KDJ Above

KDJ Above has some of the most unique neo-soul/top 40 mashups, making him one of the favorites of the refined hip-hop listener. His set at the second annual Building Connections DJ competition has become a piece of urban legend: Battling DJ Ktone for the crown, KDJ Above went from the early-'80s era through '90s hits to current hip-hop with ease when suddenly the speakers blew. Everyone in the building by then was ecstatic. Even the bartenders were dancing on the bar. His technical skills are incredible, thanks in part to his part work as a KS107.5 mixer and weekly club DJ for years at premier parties.

7. Cysko Rokwell

Cysko Rokwell is the DJ for Prime Element. He has come so close to being crowned DMC champion many times. Often a regional finalist, Rokwell was invited to NYC in 2010 to the tourney. The best of Rokwell comes out during rare club events, where his juggling and mixing skills are displayed in comfort of a party setting, Rokwell is entertaining, original and technically refined. Rokwell is a staple and legend in the Denver hip-hop community.

6. DJ Bigspade

Bigspade aka Dr.Xclusive is a transplant from New York but has been rocking the club scene for close to a decade. His Saturday nights at Teddy's were the biggest weekly events for years. Spade uses his connections to bring national acts like E-40 and Lil Boosie to Colorado. Bigspade can spin everything from classic boom-bap records, reggae to current mainstream hits without missing a beat. His voice has become one of the most identifiable as a mixtape host, commercial voice-over and more.

5. Mu$a Bailey

Mu$a Bailey is probably one of the most beloved DJs in Denver, Mu$a Bailey has been rocking crowds in Colorado and beyond for well over a decade. Now, as the Music Director at Cold Crush, Mu$a holds it down on Saturdays and Wednesdays for events he has named "Hip-Hop for Grown Ups." Mu$a is also a unique creator of shows, like the "Shoe Shine" party, which is in its eighth edition. He's also behind "Sneaker Prom" and has rocked with the likes of DJ Premier, Q-Tip, Pete Rock Dead Prez and many more.

4. DJ Bedz

Bedz is easily one of the hardest working DJs in town. The Denver Nuggets official DJ not only mans the sounds at every home game, but also is a mainstay on 95.7 FM The Party and 98.9 FM in Colorado Springs. His has weekly events at Suite 200, Sheer Ultra Lounge and Press Play in Boulder, but his greatest accolades come from his continuing mixtape series, Party to Go, that helps fund Safehouse Denver for abused women and children.

3. DJ Staxx

Staxx solidified his place in the scene by being the first DJ to win the Building Connections DJ competition three years in a row, defeating the likes of Ktone, Stretch, KDJ Above and more. Staxx is an incredibly talented DJ who holds weekly events at Primetime's Sports Bar, with a loyal following. Opening for acts like Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Lloyd Banks and many more, he often mans the 5 o'clock traffic jam on KS107.5.

2. DJ Ktone

Ktone is known as Denver's Turf DJ, Ktone is a marketing and promotions guru. Core DJ and mixtape wiz, Ktone has a loyal following unlike any other DJ in town. Ktone's biggest attribute is that he is a record breaker, launching acts like Big Krit, Iamsu and more long before they received national attention. His yearly birthday bash is now in its seventh year and gets bigger each time, with B.O.B. headlining the most recent affair. DJ Ktone releases mixtape hosting and project at fever pitch and is easily one of the most identifiable people in the Denver music scene.

1. Chris Karns

Chris Karns, formely known as DJ Vajra, has reached a pinnacle many never achieve. The 2011 DMC World Champion propelled himself from a local sensation to Yelawolf's DJ and star of VH1's Master of the Mix. His technical skills are unparalleled and his YouTube videos drew the attention of legendary cut master DJ Qbert, who calls him his favorite DJ. Karns is a prime example of what applying yourself can achieve. He played all the clubs and bars in Denver and Boulder for ten years before applying himself to his battling craft.

Honorable Mentions: Chonz, Dozen, Es-9, Low Key, Gyp the Hip, Simes Carter

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