Since it’s inception, hip-hop music and culture have thrived and fueled themselves upon the innovation of the genre. From the earliest incarnation and modification of Reggae and Dub freestyle toasting, to the disco era good times of the Sugar Hill Gang, to our current cultural fascination with down south trap mumble raps, these varied artists have risen to this occasion again and again, along the way pushing boundaries at every turn.
But it doesn’t mean a damn thing if the beats don’t slap. Along with the evolution of rapping, b-boy, and graffiti lifestyles, hip-hop production and the underground consortium of DJ’s and producers have also seen and gone through the same changes and evolutions over the years–each new beat tape and DJ set pushing the envelope, rebirthing themselves like prodigal phoenixes from the ashes.
And on the cusp of these new changes and facets of hip hop are the next Colorado-grown batch of producers and beatmakers. Whether they opt to pay homage to the greats of the past or get inventive on the next level, this new batch of producers is on our radar.
Big J Beats
The musicality and audio stylings of Denver’s Big J Beats are the aural equivalent of the old phrase Go Big or Go Home. And this dude goes big. Between his lo-fi aesthetic and glitzy gloss-over use of dank samples, this Coloradoan’s musical output and production style harbor a loose and future funk feel; his music evokes hot nights out on the town, riding in the backseat of your boys hoop-d, not knowing what will happen next but for damn sure knowing it’ll be a great time.
The vast output that makes up the online catalog of Colorado Spring’s producer Elimence (stylized ELiMenCe) may simply fall under the golden era style of boom bap hip hop, but a quick listen or two shows that there is so much more. Through sheer innovation, Elimence has added doses of electronic-infused experimentation and glitch-laden nu jazz into the fold, turning his music and style into a passionate pouring of the soul into every mix.
St Petersen, the newest album from Denver’s own Crl Crrll (real name Carl Carrell) is an indelible and unfazeable mix of modern Soul, trip-hop production, and thick electronic swell, converging head on with a strong sense of 90’s uptempo R n’ B and some of the catchiest songwriting in recent memory. If he keeps this up, you’ll for damn sure be seeing Crl Crrll making some big moves here in the future.
Telluride, CO’s Amalgimals take a unique sonic approach to their music; sure, the samples and drums are dusty and the beats still knock, but this production duo instead opt for a loose, trippy, psychedelic vibe with their beats rather of going the traditional hip hop route. It’s weird, it’s off-kilter, and it’s most importantly just what hip hop could use more of in an era of mumble-rap nonsense filling the airwaves.
Trap music has seemingly jumped the shark. The triplet-induced and 808-heavy beats themselves, hailed a decade ago as the future of hip hop by music mags (though their roots run much deeper) have become largely passè. I say largely because of artists like Denver’s Davey Remix, who generously utilizes the down South format to make intricate neck snappers on the regular, blending trap tonality with smooth R’n’B silkiness and a serious pop edge to hopefully take the genre into the next era with panache.