When Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and Eminem songs interrupted his father’s normal Latin-music playlist, Sly Guevara — who grew up in southwest Denver — found himself enthralled with hip-hop. At fourteen, he started rapping, shooting for a career in the music industry. Soon he was Googling "How to win a Grammy" and "How to go platinum." But he ran into the same problem that many aspiring local hip-hop artists confront: There are few avenues for finding success as a rapper in Denver.
“I thought that I had to create this avenue for myself if no one has it for us,” Guevara says. Five years later, the nineteen-year-old Guevara is actively boosting Denver hip-hop through his company, Crazy Town Entertainment. He thinks the city's scene has grown in quality in recent years, but suffers because artists are scattered and not working together. To solve that, his company is throwing its first hip-hop industry night.
“Our goal is to network to build wealth,” Guevara says. The industry night is for every person involved in or interested in all aspects of hip-hop, from DJs and rappers to fashion designers and producers.
Guevara started Crazy Town Entertainment while still in high school as a platform to finance, produce and market platinum-selling artists. His first show, a rave that only seven people showed up to, taught him lessons that he applied to a second event, a more successful cipher in 2017.
In coming up with Hip-Hop Industry Night, Guevara drew inspiration from watching immigrants come from Mexico in search of the American dream and build their businesses by supporting each other.
“I saw that and was like, that is what Denver needs,” he says. “We need to build an economic system, a financial system among businesses that are involved in hip-hop.”
The Crazy Town team includes others dedicated to local hip-hop. Rayce Calvaresi II, known as DJ Deuce, will host the upcoming industry night and spin for Crazy Town Entertainment there; he's been working at the company for two years.
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Born and raised in Denver with a father involved in the hip-hop scene, Calvaresi thinks artists have a hard time picturing themselves making it because the city lacks a signature sound — the kind that Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles boast.
“Here I think we're trying to get past that stereotype of mountains, cowboys and all that stuff to where we really are a developing city," Calvaresi says. "We're trying to be relevant."
One common thing, he says, has emerged across Denver hip-hop: "If I can describe it in one word, I would call it elevating," Calvaresi says. "When I listen to our type of music, I get this elevated sense of wanting to be better or get better because we're the Mile High."