The "Controversy" 32-Bar Challenge Is Igniting Denver's Hip-Hop Scene

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The response has gone well beyond anything he imagined, bringing out some of the scene's biggest names and brightest talent. He posted "Controversy" twelve days ago -- one (presumably incomplete) playlist collecting the responses is 73 tracks long. Ru Johnson, writing for 303 Magazine, devoted her Rap Power Hour column this week to highlighting a few of the strongest entries, and she wasn't the only member of the local media to weigh in. For a while, #32BarChallenge was trending on Twitter in Denver.

Now, Gentry wants people to understand the true purpose of his challenge to the Colorado hip-hop scene as a whole. He says he was hoping to garner attention, but also to give fans and artists a reason to interact with each other. "I just want us as a whole to get on," he says. "It's going to take some time, but I watched this documentary about Atlanta and how they got on, and it inspired me. All this 'Controversy' thing is not about me or putting my name on. Its about all of us. A lot of artists are not on that put 'the town' on, because in a way, the town ain't with putting themselves on."

The music, Gentry says, it where it all starts: "It has to be good, and it has to be quality." The 32 bar challenge has certainly been that.

"Everybody got the hunger in those verses -- you can hear it. You can really see the unity and the city itself, and even the consumer," says Gentry. "It literally went eleven to twelve days, through the Broncos game Sunday and everything, non-stop. That's kind of big to me, because we finally got a chance to get everyone in the city -- even the people who don't normally listen to local music -- we finally got a chance to get their ear. To let them know there is talent out here, and you can support it."

Gentry feels that the quality of the music here has been great, but he believes that it's up to the artists to put in more work if Denver is going to establish a national reputation as a hip-hop hub. "You got to attack the blacktop, really over-grind. You've got to be consistent making good music, creating a lot of visuals," he said, "You've really got to network with the promoters, got to get in the circles with the top people doing it here. Start going to the studios, meet the engineers. Be involved."

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Antonio Valenzuela