The ten best hip-hop shows in Denver in June
When it comes to the history of hip-hop in the Dirty South, it begins with Geto Boys and their self-titled, Rick Rubin-produced debut. The group had existed, though with a different cast, since '86, but it wasn't until the turn of the decade -- when it got major distribution and released We Can't Be Stopped -- that the outfit turned heads on a national level. The Geto Boys' success was the blueprint for virtually any Southern hip-hop success story until the Dungeon Family featuring Goodie Mob and OutKast paved a different path mid-decade.
The KS 107.5 Summer Jam features a star-studded lineup of some of rap's hottest artists, including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, whose song "Thrift Shop" has absolutely ransacked airwaves across America, 2 Chainz, whose studio debut, Based on a T.R.U. Story, has already gone gold, and Future, who has revived auto-tune with his infectious, spaced-out style. The bill is rounded out by J. Cole, Wale, Trey Songz and B. Smyth.
Logic is a part of the new generation of rappers quickly gaining traction thanks to masses of young fans across the country finding common ground on the Internet. Unlike many other Internet sensations, Logic is a legitimate, serious lyricist with more raw rhyming talent than personality -- not that he has a lack of that, either. Logic was recently picked by XXL as one of 2013's Freshman class along with other standouts Ab-Soul, Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson.
One in a long line of Rhymesayers entertainers to keep alive the tradition of self-reflective poetic rap, Grieves headlines the official after party for this year's Westword Music Showcase. Grieves crafts dark, visceral images that imbue his music with a tender sadness that sticks in your gut long after the music stops. Prof and Black Actors share the bill on what is sure to be an exciting cap to an epic show.
Sweatshop Union is a politically-minded Canadian hip-hop collective from Vancouver that's been operating since 2000. An amalgamate of several groups, this ragtag group of MCs and instrumentalists strive to put out positive music addressing real issues in a direct and honest way. While the individual acts of this union continue to release individual projects, their chemistry as a whole is apparent. Plus, if you get to Cervantes' before 10, the show is free, so be sure to show up early.
Granted, if Twista had never come up with his rapid-fire delivery, he most likely wouldn't have made as much noise. But it's not only his fast tongue and incredible breath control that make him notable, it's his originality and deep understanding of individual phonemes and how they flow together. You can't just say anything fast and have it sound good; you have to write the verse to be fast-adaptable, and that's a skill that Twista has mastered.
Pitbull may not be the most beloved performer by hardcore hip-hop fans, as evidenced by his sharing the headline with Ke$ha, but there's no denying his influence in popular music; his single "Give Me Everything" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2011. There's also no denying his ability to get bodies moving on the dancefloor.
Half a decade after releasing the platinum single "Handlebars," which made rounds on radios across the country, the Flobots have grown significantly, both as a musical group and as a philanthropic force within the Denver community. Since parting ways with Universal Records after the lukewarm reception of the Flobots' second major release, Survival Story, the group has released The Circle In the Square, a fresh start from a familiar position -- as underdogs -- a position that they're probably more comfortable with anyway.
Krizz Kaliko is best-known as co-owner with Tech N9ne of Strange Music, which houses such powerhouse MCs as Rittz, Jay Rock and Brotha Lynch Hung. But Kaliko is more than just a businessman; he's made four albums of his own with the fifth, Son of Sam, scheduled to come this July. Tech N9ne calls Krizz Kaliko the genius (also the name of his second album). Come see what all the fuss is about.
There are so many great acts to see at the Westword Music Showcase this year, almost too many. But you would be remiss if you didn't check out some of Colorado's very best hip-hop, including BLKHRTS, Myke Charles, Diamond Boiz, Turner Jackson, Wheelchair Sports Camp, Whygee and many more -- not to mention a show from Doomtree founder P.O.S. from Minneapolis. These local heroes have helped make Colorado one of the richest, most supportive music communities around, so show out and reciprocate.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.