Eleven of the Best Denver Alternative Hip-Hop Acts — 2016 Edition

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5. Otem Rellik
Formerly based in Fort Collins and now living in Denver, Toby Hendricks has incorporated noise elements in his soundscaping since the inception of this project. Hendricks creates some of his own noise-makers, but also uses more conventional methods as Otem Rellik; whichever approach he takes, his beats are always unique and utterly fascinating.

4. Qbala
This Fort Collins-based MC and beat-maker has been making waves on her own terms over the past few years, bursting onto the scene and establishing herself as a significant artist. Her frank explorations of personal trials and tribulations with race and sexuality are incredibly relevant to today's social climate.

3. Sole
As a founder of Anticon, Tim Holland has made alternative and underground hip-hop a known quantity on the international level going back to the '90s. When Holland moved to Denver in 2009, he continued his career as Sole and also established Black Box Tapes, an imprint he has used to release experimental music from Denver and elsewhere.

2. Stay Tuned
Stay Tuned is a hip-hop crew of noteworthy artists in their own rights. MCs Ichiban and Mane Rok, both with strong solo efforts under their belts, bring a sharp social critique to the group's lyrics, and DJ Awhat!!!, once the genius beat-maker for the Pirate Signal, he adds his masterful skills to the outfit.

1. Wheelchair Sports Camp
Kalyn Heffernan's truly unique rapping and underappreciated yet expert beat-making would already deem this project noteworthy. But she always recruits some of the best musicians in Denver to be part of the band, including Rubedo's creatively brilliant drummer, Gregg Ziemba, and master trumpet player Joshua Trinidad. Like few artists in Denver hip-hop, WSC has reached a national and international audience.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.