Frankly, it wasn't success that propelled The Procussions out of Colorado Springs and into the Los Angeles hip-hop scene it was frustration.
Understand, they still love their hometown. The trio often name-checks the Springs in lyrics and press materials. But according to Procussions MC Mr. J Medeiros (pictured center), after trying for about five years to make the local scene pop, it was time to move on.
"We exhausted the scene, in a sense," says Medeiros, who, with co-Procussionists Stro (MC and production) and Rez (MC and turntables), started the group in 1998. "It's a great scene it's very good and very small but if you want to do music full-time, you need space, and room to play."
The trio is getting ready for a 43-city tour with fellow hip-hopsters Aceyalone, Ugly Duckling, Diverse, Mayday! and Wrekonize. They're also gearing up for promoting their new album, 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents. Digging into each of their vast musical interests (everything from jazz to speed metal), and spotlighting high-profile guests like Talib Kweli, 5 Sparrows shows the group has grown up.
The guys met in high school, when a love of b-boy culture brought them together. All were a part of the early- to late-'90s local hip-hop scene, rapping, DJing, breakdancing and freestyling in now-defunct places like The Bomb Hip-Hop Shop, Manhattan and The Digital Barn. Medeiros admits to having been in groups like TIO (The Intelligent Ones) and DFZ (Drug Free Zone), which performed wherever and whenever at Springspree, the state fair and even pizza parlors.
Eventually, Rez started Basementalism, the popular Internet radio show out of Boulder, with co-founder and current Procussions manager Adict. But even after broadening their base and becoming part of the Denver scene, and even touring as far away as Japan, the group felt stifled.
Venue after venue started closing, and Colorado College, which used to host the occasional MC battle, stopped having shows after fights broke out.
"It was constant drama," says Medeiros. When venues get closed down and when there's nothing to do, he says, kids get in trouble.
"You've got aggression and high suicide rates in the Springs, yet have a church on every corner. It's a ridiculous place."
Another part of The Procussions' problem, says Medeiros, was that it's difficult to connect with the music world at large when you're from a relatively unknown city. The group had a problem getting taken seriously.
So if the industry wasn't going to come to the Procussions, the Procussions were going to go to the industry. They decided to make the move to L.A. in late 2004. Leaping into the scene, they experienced Little-Fish-in-a-Big-Pond Syndrome, and found themselves having to check their egos.
"It was intimidating to know the scene is flooded, and we had to make some noise. And not just as a hip-hop group, but as a group from Colorado," says Medeiros. "People might think, "Well, you don't have anything to tell us.'"
But coming from Colorado also helped their music. Stylistically, they could take it where they wanted, not having been influenced by any one sound.
"We weren't West Coast, we weren't East Coast. Being from a military town, with so many people from so many areas, you could develop your own style and form," he says.
In sum, cutting their teeth in the Springs has proven double-edged for The Procussions.
"It definitely helped us musically, but as far as business goes, there's nothing but hindrance in the Springs," Medeiros says. "There's nothing to help you.
"Still, it's all a blessing in the end."
The Procussions with Aceyalone, Ugly Duckling, Diverse, Mayday! And Wrekonize
The Black Sheep,
2106 E. Platte Ave.
Tuesday, June 13, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $12, all ages; check ticketweb.com.