The metro Denver hip-hop and rap scene has been booming for a long time now, though there's always that nagging feeling that people farther afield should be paying more attention. We have artists here that span the various nooks and crannies that make up the genre, creating intelligent and fascinating music. Here are ten artists that could well make a big noise this year, in alphabetical order.
Straight outta Park Hill, the rapper born Anthony Porch is getting some national attention thanks to his complex rhyme patterns. This man has a firm grasp on his own voice, despite the fact that it appears to be running away with him like a car with no brakes. That’s the skill of AP: The dude’s raps are like a math equation, if you try to study them. Instead, just chill and listen as he rhymes about his very real problems (literally, on the song “Problems”).
Listen to AP with Soundcloud.
2. Wes Dawg
With his distinctive style, Wes Dawg could be Denver’s answer to Danny Brown. Blessed with a similar level of inventiveness, Dawg writes lyrics that are incisive and smart, especially on the brilliant song “What Are We Doing?” Over dub beats, Dawg raps, “Women have got to know that they are all queens.” He’s right, you know.
Listen to Wes Dawg with Soundcloud.
Pries has seen his reputation steadily grow over the past months, and 2017 could prove to be a breakthrough year for him. He recently passed three million views on his YouTube channel thanks to his easy-to-relate-to tales of college life. This is chill, smart music made by an intelligent young man who clearly has a big future. He’s also responsible for his own marketing material, which gives him a hefty leg up in the industry.
Listen to Pries on Soundcloud.
4. Koo Qua
Koo Qua, or Niquasia Waddles, might have been in the music industry since 2009, but her talent demands that people start paying attention outside of Denver, sooner or later. Writing uplifting lyrics aimed at youth, she has an enviable reputation here. She’s performed with well-known names like Lady Wu-Tang and Mane Rok, and has been recognized by both 5280 and Westword for her work. It’s time the rest of the world started paying attention.
Listen to Koo Qua with Soundcloud.
5. Ray Reed
“I’m getting bigger now, they say my competition’s getting bitter now, they say my competition is for dinner now,” raps Ray Reed on a nameless track on his Soundcloud page. That might sound cocky (and it kinda is), but it’s a sign that Reed is seeing his stock rise. His cool vibe, strong lyrics and those distinctive dreadlocks are earning him plaudits. The recent Cuffing Season album helped. The world is his oyster.
Listen to Ray Reed with Soundcloud.
Read on for more of Denver's best hip-hop acts.
6. The ReMINDers
Anybody not hip to this husband-wife duo that lives in Colorado Springs but regularly ventures over to Denver should put that right immediately. Constantly bigging-up Colorado when on tour, Aja Black and Big Samir seamlessly blend hip-hop with R&B, reggae and world music, and inspire fans with positive, hopeful lyrics.They deserve a bigger audience, and it's slowly growing.
Listen to The ReMINDers on Soundcloud.
7. Trev Rich
Trev Rich recently signed with Cash Money Records, part of his quest to put Denver on the map (his words). He’s been around for a long time, and he was able to play to bigger audiences in 2016. This year, he hopes to step up another level again and see his name getting recognized by larger national audiences. The Denver Post called him “the Denver rapper” in a December feature, and it’s hard to argue with that now.
Listen to Trev Rich with Soundcloud.
8. SP Double
Known to be one of the most passionate MCs in the region, SP Double, formerly known as Speed, has been a bit quiet of late, but one suspects that, like a cobra, he’s coiled and ready to strike. His 2012 album, Loyalty Honor Respect, should have propelled him toward fame and fortune, but it didn’t really happen that way. Still, he’s super-talented, and if he keeps at it and retains his level of perseverance, anything could happen.
Listen to SP Double with Soundcloud.
9. Jay Triiiple
Right after SP Double is Jay Triiiple. Authenticity is key for Queen Jay Triiiple, the tough-talking female MC who spits rhymes like her life depends on it. Everyday life, including sexuality, the battle to get ahead in the industry, and even a splash of politics are all fair game for Triiiple’s sharp tongue. “Using music as a major form of expression is the ultimate formula for dynamic hip-hop,” she says, and she’s right.
Listen to Jay Triple with Soundcloud.
10. Young Doe
Experienced and business-savvy, the man born Charles McClure and sometimes known as Charles Truth has released over twelve albums on his Brand Factory and Elite Entertainment Group imprints, and has collaborated with artists such as Bizzy Bone, Messy Marv and J. Stalin. He’s seen and done it all on a local level. Perhaps it’s time for the rest of the country to wise up about Young Doe.
Listen to Young Doe with Soundcloud.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.