Hip-Hop for Homes Raises Money for People Experiencing Homelessness

Looney Ando will perform alongside Amp Live and Colorado hip-hop acts during Hip-Hop for Homes Vol 2.
Looney Ando will perform alongside Amp Live and Colorado hip-hop acts during Hip-Hop for Homes Vol 2.
Looney Ando
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For the second time this year, Belly First Productions and Denver nonprofit Impact Locally are teaming up to present Hip-Hop for Homes. The second iteration will take place at Your Mom’s House in Capitol Hill on Thursday, August 2.

Max Rozier, CEO of Belly First Productions, a live-music and events company, dreamed up the idea after seeing a tiny home village in action.

“I wanted to throw a show that would raise enough money to build a tiny home,” he says. “Then I found out that it [costs] like $27,000. So that’s a little outside of our range. That’s what we might do in a year with these shows. So we had to kind of adjust.” Rozier teamed up with Impact Locally, a group offering on-the-ground support to people experiencing homelessness in Denver.

Denver residents volunteer with Impact Locally.
Denver residents volunteer with Impact Locally.
Travis Smith

Belly First has built its emerging brand throwing fundraisers. One of the first was Dubstep for Doggos, which raised money for the group Animal Rescue and Kare. Rozier calls the events “parties with a purpose.”

“We don’t have the same resources as [billionaire Phil Anschutz of Anschutz Entertainment Group],” he notes. “So we do what we can and have a good time.”

The artists on board are eager to play the hip-hop benefit; in fact, many are returning for year two, happy to have helped Impact Locally raise enough money in 2017 to pay for 800 meals for people without homes.

“It’s great to help people out and give back,” says Looney Ando, a Denver-based MC whose mother has experienced homelessness. He headlined the first concert on Mother’s Day and will be performing again. “This event helps the homeless and helps the music scene.”

Hip-hop act Genetic Concepts, which comprises MCs Equinox and Eye-Q, will also be back this year. “The show means a lot to us,” says Equinox. “Nobody should worry about their next meal. The first event was able to feed a lot of people, and considering this one has a national act [Amp Live] headlining, hopefully the draw is even larger. I’ve been able to get many local artists to donate prints of their work to the raffle so we can raise even more money to feed Denver. These events are not only a boon for the music scene, but they’re incredibly beneficial to the people strug gling in the city.”

A local artist paints at Hip-Hop for Homes Vol. 1EXPAND
A local artist paints at Hip-Hop for Homes Vol. 1
Kelsey O'Sullivan

Impact Locally CEO and founder Travis Smith says his nonprofit works in Denver to feed, clothe and provide hygiene products for up to 5,000 people living on the streets, and money from the concert will go to fund these efforts.

“Hip-hop gets a bad rap,” Smith says. “I think this event helps by saying, ‘Hey, this is hip-hop giving back.’ I started Impact because I experienced homelessness. When I saw the realities behind it, I said, ‘Okay, I need to start working on fixing this.’ That makes you more passionate about it.”

Smith has been inspired by Belly First and the artists’ commitment to his nonprofit. “It’s not just lip service,” he notes. “They’re actually doing what they’ve said they’re going to do, and they’re passionate about it.”

Hip-Hop for Homes Raises Money for People Experiencing Homelessness (3)EXPAND
Belly First Productions

The concert includes performances by nine Denver-area hip-hop artists and will be headed up by Amp Live, best known for his work with Oakland hip-hop duo Zion I and collaborations with Del the Funky Homosapien. The fundraiser will also include yoga, live painting and a raffle, with 100 percent of proceeds from the raffle going to benefit Impact Locally.

“Let’s throw a show that we want to go to, first and foremost,” says Rozier. “If we can raise money, that’s even better.”

Kelsey O’Sullivan, Belly First vice president of operations, is looking forward to watching the event grow over the years. She also sees it as a model for how musicians and Denver residents in general can get involved in supporting people experiencing homelessness.

“For those interested in giving back to their community and helping out the homeless, this is a great place to start,” Smith notes. “The first step is just getting involved.”

Hip-Hop for Homes Vol. 2, 7 p.m. Thursday, August 2, Your Mom’s House, 608 East 13th Avenue, $10.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Belly First by an incorrect name.

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