The ten best hip-hop shows in Denver in August
The America's Most Wanted Festival features some of the most talented and successful artists to come out of the South in a long time, including Lil Wayne, whose name speaks for itself and whose March album I Am Not a Human Being II has already gone gold, T.I., the self-described King of the South, who's riding high on the release of Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head and 2 Chainz, whose recent celebrity is only eclipsed by his huge personality. Opening the festival is G-Eazy, a rising star in his own right.
See also: The ten best storytellers in hip-hop
It could be said that Snoop Dogg -- or is it Lion? We can never be sure these days -- is the coolest cat in all of hip-hop. His appeal is universal. His flow is smoother than molasses. His catalog, while not the model of consistency, holds some of the most anthemic tracks in rap history. When he performed last at Fiddler's Green, he would have blown the top off the place if it had one. At Dick's he will be playing second fiddle to Dave Matthews Band, but don't expect any less than a headlining effort. The show goes down a second time on Saturday, August 24.
Crooked I began his career in California as an affiliate of Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger and other Death Row musicians in the late '90s/early aughts. This is perhaps where he first met Eminem, whose Shady Records imprint signed Slaughterhouse, the supergroup of which Crooked I is a member, alongside Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Royce Da 5'9. Crooked I comes to Denver in support of his latest solo effort, Apex Predator, which dropped earlier this week.
Bone Thugs are probably the most unique group in rap history in that no other group has been successful doing what they do, which is singing and harmonizing at a high level, yet maintaining their credibility as not only hardcore rappers, but ones who are both lyrically gifted and technically vicious. Even without the group, though, Bizzy Bone, the group's youngest member, has found success on his own, peaking at number two with his 2001 album, The Gift.
Discovered by Too $hort in the early 90s, Spice 1 was one of the pioneers of West Coast gangsta rap. He rose to prominence with his 1991 self-titled album, which featured the breakthrough single "187 Proof." Though Spice's name doesn't carry the weight it once did, he is a certifiable California legend, and he has reserved a place in the minds of the most hardcore hip-hop heads.
"They say you can't please everyone," Talib Kweli declares at the outset of his 2007 album, Eardrum, and his career stands as proof of that maxim. Since the days of Black Star, a 1998 disc that teamed him with Mos Def, critics have championed Kweli as a rhymer whose interests extend well beyond stereotypical narratives about women with too much booty for one man to handle...If the masses remain beyond Kweli's reach, his refusal to compromise keeps his cult following well-pleased. Kweli is performing in support of Pretty Lights. -- Michael Roberts
Ladies love G-Eazy. They absolutely adore him. Whether it's his lazy-smooth flow or Dapper Dan look, we don't know, but last time he was in Denver with Hoodie Allen on the Excellent Adventure Tour, bras were flying onstage like roses at a ballet. G-Eazy's 2011 mixtape Endless Summer first brought national attention to the rapper and is notable for his sample of Denver band Tennis's "Marathon" for the track "Waspy." He's taken a huge step forward with Must Be Nice and looks to be one of the finest producers of his generation.
Taking cues from the Cold Crush Brothers, a group from way back, Jurassic 5, anchored by Chali 2na's smooth baritone, was almost like the barbershop quintet of the rap world, the way its members' distinct voices blended together to form a textured sound that's oh-so-pleasant to listen to. Since J5's breakup, Chali 2na has released his solo debut, Fish Outta Water. He is also performing at the Arise Music Festival on Friday, August 16.
Souls of Mischief was eventually subsumed into the larger collective Heiroglyphics, and although the two crews are similar in sound and style, Souls should be remembered both for its innovation, without which Heiro could not have existed, and its debut album, 93 'til Infinity, whose title track is one of the best-produced in hip-hop history.
Although Macklemore's stock soared within the past year thanks to his hit single "Thrift Shop," he's actually been paying his dues for quite some time. As evidenced by 2005's The Language of My World, the Seattle MC is far more than some novelty rapper. On songs like "White Privilege," in which he examines the white guilt that comes with being a rapper who's not of color, and "Ego," in which he takes an unflinching look at how arrogance can destroy everything and how nobody's exempt from the envy that accompanies it, even him, he proved himself to be both thoughtful and eloquent.
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