Best Hip-Hop Producers You Might Not Know About 2012 | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Best Hip-Hop Producers You Might Not Know About

Marky Bias and Big J. Beats have been doing incredible things with the MPC machine at basement and garage parties for a while now. Widely respected by local hip-hoppers like Whygee and Brikabrak, who've been lauding their talents the longest, the two consistently bring the heat out of their backpacks, both as producers and rappers over their own beats. The pair's sample selection is unmatched among the producing and beat-making souls of the underground. Pretty much, 1984 kills shit, and you should know about it.

Seeing DJ Premier live with every hip-hop head in the city who knows what a legend he is was spine-tingling. A humble giant, Preemo not only gave a show for the ages, but he got intimate with the crowd and gave props to all of the artists who had submitted material for the seventh installment of Shoe Shine. The crowd was adoring and Premier did not disappoint, playing all of the classics while showing love and paying homage to Guru. The smoldering energy he generated among fans was unmistakable.

Ask for the "Konsequence special" and you're likely to get a video with the best story line, cinematography and charisma out there. Konsequence has shot videos for rappers all over the scene, employing his personal tricks to bring to life some of hip-hop's greatest joints. Whether capturing a melancholy instrumental video for a beatmaker like Kid Hum, or documenting the roughest, toughest life of a junkie, like FOE's like-named project, Pape is on the case. His demeanor is calm, assertive and flexible, and, quite frankly, he brings out the best in rap's moving pictures.

At Brown Sugar, you're likely to hear anything from deep soul house to Jill Scott, mixed over a hip-hop beat. Party-rocking DJs SD and KDJ Above flex their neo-soul muscles every week for a laid-back crowd while Funky Buddha provides the sexy atmosphere. As the drinks flow and couples huddle together in dark corners, enticed by the sounds, party-goers get down on the dance floor to their favorite soul cuts or live performances. Consistent and diverse, Brown Sugar has become a mid-week destination.

The late Vance Kirkland is unquestionably the most famous abstract painter in the history of Colorado art, making the Kirkland Museum the perfect place to mount a show about abstraction in this state. The four-part show, which is still on view, was conceived by museum director Hugh Grant, using his usual more-is-more style. With this loosely organized exhibit, Grant provides a look at Kirkland's illustrious career, at the work of his contemporaries, at abstract sculpture and at later abstraction — all made here in the Centennial State. Despite the title, much more than abstract expressionism is on display. In fact, there are so many great things included by Kirkland and the likes of Al Wynne, Ken Goehring, Charles Bunnell and Mary Chenoweth, among a host of others, that this show deserves more than just one visit.

For decades during the first half of the twentieth century, Birger Sandzén, a Swedish painter based in Kansas, spent his summers in Colorado recording the celebrity scenery in photos, drawings and, most famously, paintings. His signature style — characterized by wild flourishes of brushwork carried out in cotton-candy shades of thick paint — created a bridge linking post-impressionism to abstract expressionism, and in the process brought that heroic moment in the development of modernism right to our front door. Taking advantage of the fact that the Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Kansas was closed for remodeling, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center museum director Blake Milteer organized Sandzén in Colorado, using pieces from the Kansas facility, along with loans from important Colorado-based collections, to put together the largest show ever devoted to Sandzén.

This building at 28th and California used to be inhabited by anarchist punks and folkies, some of whom were involved in Food Not Bombs. It was called the Pitchfork House back then, and you would see bands like the Fainting Fansies and others of that ilk playing there. Today the punk spirit remains, and the guys who live here now have, perhaps against their better judgment, thrown shows in their living room. Sometimes that means a completely obscure experimental or pop band from far afield, other times it'll mean a hardcore or metal show or something equally loud and hectic. House shows used to be a bit of an institution in Denver, and Mouth House is keeping that experience alive and well — in a welcoming environment, to boot.

Except for the fact that they are both well-established artists, the two men featured in I Gotcha Covered: Roland Bernier and Bill Vielehr have nothing in common. Roland Bernier's visual language is actually language — in this show, giant letters in alphabetical order — which he uses as found compositions for his conceptual pieces. Bill Vielehr, on the other hand, does welded aluminum in the form of abstract columns. To make them work in the same show at Walker Fine Art, gallery director Bobbi Walker put the Berniers on the walls and the Vielehrs on the floor, creating what could be seen as a solo within a solo, with each artist standing out on his own.

Evan Semón

Originally started a few years back by guitarist Cole Rudy, who was looking to re-create the backyard jams he enjoyed with music-school friends, the weekly Monday jazz jam at the Meadowlark is still the main place in town to catch some of the city's finest young players. While some jams might attract a lot of one particular instrument, here you'll see horn players, bassists, drummers, keyboardists and guitarists cycling through every few songs. Yep, they do standards, but they keep them fresh, fiery and exciting.

Sure, you've got thousands of songs at your fingertips on those Internet jukeboxes, but the old-school CD jukes just feel like they've got soul — or at least character. When you're flipping through the pages of 3 Kings Tavern's Rock-Ola Legend, which seems like it's at least a few decades old, the selection process is much more tangible, whether you're hunting for AC/DC, Crüe, Stones, Skynyrd, Big Black, X's Live at the Whisky a Go-Go, or one of the stellar mix CDs. And since a stream of local acts plays at 3 Kings, it's not surprising that the juke is also stocked with a fair amount of the city's finest punk bands, including King Rat, Frontside Five and such dearly departed icons as Planes Mistaken for Stars.

Readers' Choice: Sancho's Broken Arrow

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