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Let it Snow: Royce da 5'9" and DJ Premier Bring Hip-Hop Heart to Denver

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While inches of snow accumulated in Denver earlier this week, the evening becoming quiet, the city felt quaint and the Bluebird Theater was accosted by the guttural sounds of a pair of Detroit and New York’s finest, who combined form PRhyme. DJ Premier and Royce da 5’9 come from an era of rap that is most endearing to me. It's artistry, requiring skills and technique, and they're still at it: Premier laying down the choppy, boom bap beats and Royce rapping impeccable rhyme schemes, putting any rapper in the game to shame.

Before the duo blessed the stage, Your Old Droogs a.k.a. 2015 George Thorogood did his set. He’s new on the rap scene, a Coney Island resident of Ukrainian and Puerto Rican decent with a vocal tone and style so similar to Nas. When he initially appeared on the scene people were positive it was Mr. Jones using an alias, creating a brilliant marketing plan for Droogs, keeping the people intrigued without ever seeing images of the rapper. His beats are simple, beautiful loops but not the kind of thing you want to hear in a live setting for that exact reason. He acknowledged this issue and rocked classic tunes for half of his set, like Raekwon's “Ice Cream.” Droogs gave a enjoyable set and is an amazing lyricist. Plus, his DJ, “DJ Skizz” was a monster with scratches, but you could tell Droogs was frustrated with the crowd.

The crowd was older, mainly folks who grew up listening to Gang Starr and were there to see Premier. They weren't interested in newcomers and weren’t shy about showing it. Though once Premier and Royce appeared, the people got precisely what they came for: pure, unadulterated, hip-hop.

PRhyme is different from any other project Premier has been a part of, but in an exceptionally appealing way. The beats he created for PRhyme are strictly composed of Adrian Young’s music. Young is a composer out of LA who loves 1968 to '74 soul music. He wrote the music for the Black Dynamite soundtrack, Ghostface Killa’s Twelve Reasons To Die, and The Delfonics self-titled album.

Royce da 5’9 is seamless with his raps. During their set, Premier congratulated Royce for being sober for the last three years and told us listeners that he knew the drunk, crazy Royce and he is very happy to see him still doing his thing minus the liquor. He then gave praise and shout outs to anyone in the audience who struggles with addiction.

For half of the set Premier played the original samples he had flipped and followed them up with the songs he created, such as Gang Starr and Mobb Deep. This was very nostalgic for me to say the least. Every time I’ve seen Premier live he reminds me of why I first became a fan of hip-hop. It is an art form and Premo has mastered it.

Although rap has evolved and devolved over the years, it stills exists in this pure form, and if you follow the path of artists that care about the culture, you will most likely end up at shows like the one PRhyme played in Denver. My heart is full of content to know that in a world where Iggy Azalea is selling out stadiums, four hundred people will still come out for a Premo and Royce show during a snowstorm on a Tuesday evening in Denver, Colorado.  

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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