Hip-hop fans rejoice! The Big Payback Tour featuring underground hip-hop acts Oldominion, Boom Bap Project, One Man Army, and Qwazaar will roll through Colorado Springs this Saturday night to drop beats at the venue formerly known as America's Beach Club. Joining them will be several local acts including Revanon and the North End's own Idiolectic Conception. The club itself has been wall-to-wall aerosoled by local artists. See our reviews of a few of these artists below.
You might have a hard time getting your hands on this self-released CD by local artists Idiolectic Conception, but if you do, you'll have a hard time believing it was recorded in a basement with a single microphone and a computer. And you'll probably have an equally hard time believing this crew is based in Colorado Springs. With beat makers Observ and Lucid, and speakers Street Pole, Know Idea, Renaissance, Fresh Jess and Spoken Intellekt, Idiolectic stitches together "Introspective Hip Hop" with samples ranging from baroque lute music to horror soundtracks with refreshingly unaffected licks of wisdom and knowledge on politics, Free masonry, friendship, spirit and technology. Even when the sound is underproduced, it's full of the low-fi charm that made bands like Sebadoh and Beck's early indie work great.
The group met at Palmer High School in 1998 and came together through "a common appreciation of music," says Spoken Intellekt. They were influenced by Gang Starr, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and by current underground acts like Latyrx, Blackalicious, Anticon and Living Legends.
"We all connected and really just got right to it, started writing, and decided we would form a crew. Then we just started recording and were doing it all in Observ's basement with a computer and one microphone."
Since high school, Intellekt moved to Fort Collins, Observ moved to Denver, and two other members are planning to move to Portland, but the crew is excited to be getting such a big break in their hometown.
Intellekt says he regrets having to leave Colorado Springs, but feels that it's important to connect with a larger music scene. "If you can blow up and still live here, it's worth it because Colorado Springs is a beautful place."
Alas, (boo-hoo) another brilliant local act exporting itself to the coast. But what of the other members?
Their second album should be released in "two months at the latest" with (tentative) distribution through hiphopinfinity.com and truehiphop.com. Mole 33 Records at Colorado and Weber is your best bet if you want to find their music.
Great hip-hop probably isn't the first thing you think about when someone says "Fort Carson." But you'll be thanking the military that local artist Revanon has decided to make Colorado Springs his home. (Fort Carson also brought us local rapper X-Cel who's trying to sign with Cash Money Millionaires as we speak.) Hard without overstated pretension, Revanon is smart, smooth and authoritative while allowing his xylophonic beats to sparkle behind the flow. Rhymes fall into place like Tetris: "My mind spits automatically without reaction/ Human blastin'/ There'll be no question mark askin'." In "No Gratitude," Revanon invokes the light hearted rhymes and the self-mocking humor of Basshead heartbreak ("We hit it off like New Edition's first single/ With nothin' fancy/ just kept it real simple."). The whole album bumps beautifully. My 1-year-old son loves to bounce to it!
Revanon is currently working on a forthcoming release from an underground Chicago label.
Under The Needle Records
If you like flavor (and who doesn't?) Oldominion's beat's got flavor -- enchanting Eastern Wu-Tangy flavor; minimal, restrained, melodic, flute and lute dotted lolligagging flavor with growling, emphatic raps. Unfortunately, you may want to be carried away by the beats and wish the lyrics would fade quietly into part of the ambient structure instead of being so commercially in-your-face. A great background listen, but not all that memorable.
Anonymous Inc. Records
Yet another much-needed sprout coming up from the hip-hop underground, Anonymous Inc.'s sound changes channels quickly from an acid jazz bath to polka-dot carnival bounce. Nonsense lyrics, closer to poetry than rap, pepper the flow as the beat jumps smoothly in and out of tempos and styles on "broken wings": "What's your joke?/ You like that frame? A birdcage for a paper plane?/... Productivity's at an all time high./ I owe it all to the sky."
No sound lingers for long. Flamenco, salsa, mambo, big-band jazz, classical, drum and bass and lounge all meld electronically into something far beyond the staid edges of commercial hip-hop. "Hey Jesus, you never looked like that -- you've got an afro," says the punchy departing voice on "death bed of___". Some lovely, quiet-stringed ambient sounds on "rumba's song." The sound gets wearily heavy on fusion as the album moves through its 23 tracks, but a brilliant first effort nonetheless.
Anonymous Inc. is a loose crew of musicians and "speakers" started by brothers Ceschi and David Ramos. Among those appearing on this debut album are Dose One from cLOUDDEAD, iCON, Circus, Shoshin, maleko, and Tommy V.