Alex Gage’s hip-hop career in Denver has been a slow burn. Over the years, the artist known as AG Flux has worked at his craft and turned himself into a well-rounded rapper and producer. That time and effort are evident on his latest album, Accompanied by Solitude.
After putting three and a half years into it Gage feels good about the record — and understandably so: It puts his different talents on display as he bounces between indie rap and traditional hip-hop, with slick production and occasionally grand beats.
Tracks “Abs” and “I Gave You Power” show his ability to string crisp lines together in the vein of someone like Astronautalis, while the track “Never Mine,” with rappers Slain and Maulskull, demonstrates how Gage takes a back seat to collaborators to good effect.
Gage lacks the mesmerizing, natural flow that catapults some rappers to stardom, and he is not so singular in artistic vision and sound that his ego overshadows others' voices. But he's solid across the board, and he’s learned how to mine his own talents as well as his collaborators' gifts.
Accompanied by Solitude offers the socially conscious songs Gage has always delivered. He raps about his lifestyle, sipping on Negronis and navigating valleys and peaks in his personal life.
“I think maybe getting away from the typical braggadocios, talking about my skill every song, to more talking about experiences in life or something that I’ve been through that someone else has also been through maybe inspired me to write something,” he explains.
After growing up in the Northeast, Gage came to Denver to pursue an opportunity with Maulskull and the hip-hop collective Black Mask. Today he mostly works solo, but his experience with other talented musicians and earning a degree in music production shaped his evolution.
“My production and songwriting — really, all of it together has grown," he says. "I think now I’m just confident in terms of being able to show what it’s about, and every song has some deep meaning to it. That’s something nice to stand behind, whereas before I think I was more trying to prove that I could actually stand my ground among many artists in this city. I think everybody goes through that in music to a certain extent. You’re trying to prove that you’re actually legitimate enough to be heard. I think I’m past that point and am now really trying to find fun ways to make songs and messages.
Still, he's self-conscious about the new album taking more than three years to create. “Every week that goes by, it’s like, 'Oh, this music is getting outdated the more it sits on a hard drive.' I kept feeling a sense of guilt a little bit, in that if I give [listeners] my old album, it’s old and not where I’m at right now, and that was definitely a motivator. It kind of eats at an artist a little bit if they don’t have a newer project out there for people to consume. That was definitely a motivator.
"The album is very truthful and honest, and I think it’s very vulnerable, which I love," he adds. "I think it’s just a very true and real record, with a lot of backstory to the songs. It’s just kind of raw, and that’s how I’d like people to view it."
AG Flux and Maulskull dual album release show, 5 p.m. Saturday, December 29, Bear Creek Distillery, 1879 South Acoma Street.