Like many who call Denver home, Jayce "FL" Cabell of hip-hop collective the Foodchain enjoys weed. But the reason his most recent album, Young Amsterdam, includes plenty of marijuana imagery and was released on 4/20 has more to do with the interest in Colorado's weed culture than it does with his own enthusiasm.
"I used the idea of 4/20," he says. "Amsterdam is a hub for marijuana around the world, and I was just saying we're next up when it comes to this type of thing. Weed culture was a constant in Colorado for a long time before it was legal. It is the epitome of the culture itself."
FL used the attention earned by last year's legalization of pot for recreational use not only to lure fans, but also to pull in producers from different regions. "One of the producers I found in L.A., named Fortune, was familiar with Denver because of the weed culture but wasn't really familiar with the music scene."
FL isn't alone in believing that the interest in weed culture can spark interest in other parts of the Denver scene. Fortune wasn't initially that enthusiastic about Young Amsterdam, but the finished product hooked him. "I bought a few beats from him, and I never sent anything until it was done," says FL. "And then the questions about the scene here just started flowing.
"I wanted to show the best qualities of the city as a whole to someone who isn't familiar with us. You can go to the liquor store, then the little corner store for some cigarettes and sodas, and then to the dispensary -- all in one stop."
Young Amsterdam attempts to build that bridge between pot culture and Denver culture, but FL knows it takes more than a concept to accomplish something like that. The music has to be compelling on its own.
"You have, like, thirty seconds to get someone's attention," notes FL, "or the first two tracks of an album. If they're rocking with it, they'll get deeper into the project or song. Then they're ready to listen to whatever else you play for them next."
Like much of FL's music, Young Amsterdam has melancholy undertones. It is meticulously crafted, with high-quality production, stinging punchlines and calm bravado. And although it's his second solo release, his work with the Foodchain -- a group that's been featured on major hip-hop blogs, opened for a slew of national headliners and recorded with the likes of Raekwon -- is still much better known.
"Foodchain is well known as a group, but most fans didn't even know our names," says FL. "I'm one of the most elusive members; it's just my personality."
On Young Amsterdam, he employs a wide range of sounds and delivers some of his most impressive lyrics. The album is more than capable of keeping the attention of fans who started out just caring about the connection to pot.
"It's not just about weed. I can talk about the culture as a whole in that light," says FL. "The Chronic and projects like that are classic because of the concepts. I wanted Young Amsterdam to be an experience more than anything. I wanted to make it about the culture and my own personal situation. I'm a heavy weed smoker, but on top of that, I'm talking about the culture in our city."
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