Hip-Hop

Denver Says a Bittersweet Goodbye to Jay Triiiple and M.T.G.

Jay Triiiple and M.T.G. both performed at a recent all-female The Knock show. (Clockwise from top left: Jay Triiiple, LPeez, SheWhoWontBeNamed, Spinks, Dani Jay, M.T.G., and Kerrie Joy)
Jay Triiiple and M.T.G. both performed at a recent all-female The Knock show. (Clockwise from top left: Jay Triiiple, LPeez, SheWhoWontBeNamed, Spinks, Dani Jay, M.T.G., and Kerrie Joy) L8GACY LLC
Denver's hip-hop community is preparing to say goodbye to two of its greatest assets, M.T.G. and Jay Triiiple (born Monica Medina and Alyssa Taylor, respectively), who are trading the Rocky Mountains for California beaches this fall to attend the prestigious Los Angeles Academy for Artists and Music Production (LAAMP). The artists, who also happen to be best friends, have lit up stages across Colorado, winning fans through their authenticity and work ethic, and producing some of the best hip-hop music to come out of the state.

Triiiple and M.T.G. were inspired to attend LAAMP by another young female artist from Colorado, Kayla Rae, who was in the program last year and encouraged them to apply. LAAMP only accepts 45 applicants for its nine-month session, and because Triiiple's application was accepted first, M.T.G. assumed that meant hers was not. "I'm from California, and I was like, 'Man, I'm just going to go back home and use the connections I have, and just support Triiip,'" M.T.G. recalls. "Then I ended up getting an email saying that I got an interview, literally a month later, and I also was accepted."

LAAMP was founded by the Norwegian songwriting and producing duo Stargate, which has worked with artists such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nas. "They started the program to mentor artists, songwriters and producers. Forty-five of those are selected to come to the program and pretty much make music, learn from each other, learn all about the music industry, and just become better at their craft," Triiiple explains.
M.T.G. (left) joins Triiiple on stage to hype her up during a recent performance.
L8GACY LLC

Throughout the course, attendees will be mentored by Stargate as well as other renowned music-industry professionals (current and former mentors include Benny Blanco and Ne-Yo). "I just hope to get better," says Triiiple. "To be around other people who are better than me, in a sense, or know more than me, so I can be inspired. Denver is an amazing city, but sometimes you run into a lot of stagnancy, and I know that's not going to be the case out there. Just knowing that everybody there is there to create music, I know that everybody is going to be focused, with little to no drama. I hope."

M.T.G. says her objective is "just growth. That's the biggest thing that I'm excited and nervous for, because I know with growth comes a lot of emotions, pressure, and things that you need to do to work on yourself. It's scary, but at the same time, I'm really, really excited."

The work ahead is daunting, but the two women are grateful that they'll be able to experience it together. Neither of them remembers exactly when their friendship started, but it was fostered through live performances, deep conversations and meandering car rides.

"We didn't get close until 2020," recalls Triiiple. "I was doing a bunch of shit, and I would just invite her, because I knew her, and she's got dope vibes. She's always down for the turn-up. I was doing all this stuff, and I would always ask if she wanted to come. She would always be down and would give me rides home, and we would just talk."

M.T.G. agrees that her role as the perpetual designated driver gave them lots of time to bond: "I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I never have. So I'm always sober, and I like driving, and I'm always like, 'Yeah I want to go!'"
M.T.G. got her name from a childhood friend, and decided to use it as her stage name after he passed away as a tribute.
L8GACY LLC
M.T.G. and Triiiple have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Denver's music scene, and have endeavored to make it more welcoming, collaborative and inclusive for budding artists. Kelsey O'Sullivan, founder and producer of The Knock, a local hip-hop concert series where both M.T.G. and Triiiple have performed, recognizes their impact. "M.T.G. and Triiiple have both played pivotal roles in shaping the way females are received by the hip-hop community in Denver. Their talents have demanded the undeniable respect from their peers and the local hip-hop fan base," O'Sullivan says. "M.T.G. is one of the greatest freestylers I've ever met, and Triiip's presence and flow put her on a level all her own."

While Triiiple agrees that Colorado's hip-hop enthusiasts have embraced her, she emphasizes that there is still work to be done to make the industry a more united front. "Colorado has been very good to me. ... As far as people I've worked with, I've come across some really great people who have definitely helped me be Jay Triiiple," she says. "I will say, though, just to be completely transparent, because it's not a secret, there can be a lot of stagnancy in the hip-hop community. There's a 'crabs in a barrel' type of mentality, and it's actually just sad. Why can't we all work together? There's always some sort of drama that's unnecessary, and it has nothing to do with the music most of the time. It's ego that typically gets in the way."

"That's exactly how I feel," adds M.T.G. "We really need to be a community. Actions always speak louder than words, and I feel like a lot of people say, 'We need to do this,' but then they don't actually do it."
Jay Triiiple's move to L.A. will be the first time she's lived outside of Colorado since she was fifteen.
L8GACY LLC
M.T.G. explains that because Colorado has yet to have a hip-hop artist become a household name worldwide, many artists here fall victim to tunnel vision, where all they care about is being "the first" to do something rather than raising the profile of the city as a whole.

"I've said this since I first got here," she says. "There's so many people in other states, like Texas, New York, California, where they don't have to worry about being 'first.' There's already a lot of 'firsts.' Here, it's sad because there are a lot of 'firsts' already, but people don't see any value in that because it wasn't them, and it wasn't at the level of a Beyoncé or Drake.

"People don't realize that, if this person from here is eating at the table, we all eat. Supporting someone else isn't going to hurt you; it's literally going to elevate you, too," she continues.

This pay-it-forward attitude has helped pave the way for both artists' success, according to O'Sullivan: "I have personally witnessed the humility and hustle that they have maintained to get to this point, and I couldn't be happier that it has paid off. I hope they celebrate how far they've come just as much as where they are going."

Triiiple and M.T.G. say they were initially interested in LAAMP to learn how to be of better service to their peers. While Triiiple plans to stay in L.A. after completing the program, it's important to her to return to Colorado, as well, so that she can share the wealth of knowledge she's bound to gain. "I'm not just doing this for myself. I want to get better so I can be a better team player, so I can be more valuable," she says. "Hopefully I can come back and show the community how it's supposed to go. I've seen a lot in this scene, and we could be doing a lot better. I think we're getting there, but it takes more of us moving around and coming back so we can understand how it operates in places where it's already been operating."
M.T.G. raps as effortlessly in Spanish as she does in English.
L8GACY LLC
Slowly but surely, the sense of community among Denver's hip-hop artists is getting stronger, and M.T.G. and Triiiple are not the only ones willing it to happen. They're leaving the city in capable hands, thanks to  people like O'Sullivan and like-minded artists who are determined to keep the spirit of collaboration alive. "Kelsey, she's amazing, and I love what she's doing with the Knock. I've been a part of a lot of shows, and I like the way that she operates and tries to get people involved. She makes an effort to make it a community, and not just another show," says Triiiple.

"She's so supportive," echoes M.T.G. "She'll just call me and be like, 'What's up? Tell me how you're feeling, I'm here to listen.' It's super dope, and it's not just like a promoter trying to hit you up to do a show — both her and Eryk [Fisher, co-founder of the Knock]."

They also applaud the efforts of fellow musicians who are activists as much as they are artists, such as Nelo (born Chinelo Cary Tyler) and Kerrie Joy, co-founders of the nonprofit Kaleidoscope Project.

"Nelo is an amazing man, and I'm really blessed to have met him recently and connect with him. He really lives and breathes community; that's his principle. He wants to see people win," Triiiple says of her friend and recent collaborator. (Nelo performs on Triiiple's latest single, "Stay Ready.") The love is mutual, Nelo confirms: "Jay Triiiple is the type of person and artist who comes along once in a lifetime. Whenever I hear her music, I'm taken aback by the complexity of her bars. M.T.G. is captivating because she brings so much of her personality into her music and sound. After each song, you feel like you know her better."

Nelo and Joy's nonprofit, which provides funding to Black-owned businesses and BIPOC activists, even gave Triiiple a grant to help with her tuition costs. "Everything we say about Nelo, same goes for Kerrie Joy," Triiiple continues. "She's amazing, I love her. They're partners in the Kaleidoscope Project, and I received my first grant ever from them, just to help with the GoFundMe."
Denver will be a little less bright without Triiiple's infectious grin.
L8GACY LLC
For Joy, supporting M.T.G. and Triiiple was a no-brainer. "Jay Triiiple and M.T.G. are some of my favorite artists, because they are dedicated to their craft, their community and their humanity," she says. "Not only are they ridiculously talented — and I mean bars on bars — but they are lights in what can feel like a cold, dark world, and I can't wait until everyone catches their shine."

Both Triiiple and M.T.G. are looking to the community that they have been such an integral part of to help crowdfund their upcoming transition to L.A. Between tuition, moving costs and housing expenses, each woman is hoping to raise roughly $45,000. "On a serious note, if anyone is aware of any grants or scholarships, that would be very helpful. Throw that information our way," says Triiiple. "We really appreciate it. We pretty much need all the help we can get. Outside of that, we're still hustling with our regular gigs."

"If anyone has any connections in California, with living spaces, grants, or if anyone knows any investors that are willing to invest in two women of color, that would be great," M.T.G. chimes in.

Before they leave in mid-September, the two also plan to host a big sendoff show where all proceeds would benefit their tuition funds. It will be one of their last performances in Denver for the foreseeable future, so don't miss the chance to experience these two incredible MCs live. (In the meantime, you can catch Jay Triiiple at the Taste of the South Festival on August 20.)

"Our community will be missing the light they carry, but we are crazy excited to see their journeys unfold," O'Sullivan says.

Bon voyage, ladies.

Jay Triiiple will be at the Taste of the South Festival on Saturday, August 20, at Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway. Tickets are free, but registration is required on Eventbrite.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Cleo Mirza is a real-life Daria Morgendorfer who worships at the altar of Missy Elliot. She left the East Coast to live vicariously through Colorado's drag performers, and only returns for the pizza. Cleo has been a contributing writer for Westword since 2019, covering music, arts, and cannabis. She loves white wine, medical marijuana, and her possessed chihuahua, Rudy.
Contact: Cleo Mirza