Mile High Madness: A celebration of hip-hop in the Mile High City

The Mile High Madness DVD release party proved that Hip Hop is not only alive and well in the Mile High City, but thriving. Presented by Big Joe Thunder and Box State Music, the DVD is Thunder's tenacious effort put Denver's underground art and music on display. The party was hosted at Denver Creative Co-Op Studios on 4th and Lincoln, and it ended up being the perfect venue to showcase the four pillars of hip-hop on a local level. The backpacks, spray cans, hoodies and clouds of smoke were right at home amongst the colorful graffiti, hard floors and booming bass.

It was refreshing to witness the open celebration of hip-hop in all its forms through such an organic process. The roots of the culture were present in both music and art, with a diverse lineup of performers -- American Trash Republic , Jay Money Mayes and Turner Jackson, 800 The Jewell, Colorado Casuals, Diamond Boiz, Mr. Verbal and J Cook, Microphone Jones, and Ottomatic -- and painters such as the Local Legend, Lorenzo Baca, Omni, Dread, the Dope Group and Mr. Myzr.

A sense of unity permeated the air, infectious with new beginnings, both inside and outside the venue as freestyle ciphers flared up and died away. While hip-hop appears to be disgruntled and fragmented these days, Saturday night gave the opportunity to celebrate the culture and all its elements. It was all wild styles and smiles from all those who attended. In an unprecedented effort to document an ever changing art form, Joe Thunder captured and combined the ingredients to measured perfection. The performances were live and direct, the art, revolutionary and telling, and the participants, grimy with knowledge and power.

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