In a basement studio on the north side of town, a local rap sensation is growing.
Dat Boy O, the first notable Next Big Hip-Hop Artist here since The Procussions, is originally from Houston. He moved here in July of last year to be with his family, and it wasn't long before he was itching to make hip-hop in the shadow of Pikes Peak as odd as that sounds.
"It's a different scenery and climate," D.B.O. admits, before acknowledging that it's actually fitting for his line of work. "I can think, and breathe fresh air without being exposed to all kinds of calamities-by-city."
So far D.B.O.'s been successful, thanks in large part, he says, to his 21-year old producer, Erik Shable, and Get Heard Studios.
Since the two met last year, Shable and D.B.O. have released two mixtapes, Hustlaholics Parts 1 and 2, gaining notice and votes of listeners of KIBT-FM 96.1 The Beat. The strong positive response to D.B.O.'s tracks on the station's Mixtape Monday prompted The Beat to include some of D.B.O.'s original work on its own first mixtape CD, due to drop Nov. 24.
The song on that CD, "Don't Blow Me Up," was one of two D.B.O. hits to make it onto the local airwaves. The other song, "I'm Thinking," may even be the stronger effort edgier and with a more intriguing bass line.
But none of this seems to faze the transplanted rapper.
"I'm old enough to be a veteran in the game," D.B.O. says slyly, his baby face belying his age.
To be fair, he has been doing this for seven years now. Back in Houston, he appeared on numerous compilations, and his work with DJ Screw was distributed nationally through retail outlets like Best Buy.
But the move to Colorado Springs seems to have reinvigorated the artist. Here, he's gone solo, and he's brimming with energy, creativity and projects.
With Hustlaholics Parts 1 and 2 behind them, Shable and D.B.O. now are turning their attention to a full-length debut album, likely to be released sometime in 2007.
In the meantime, neither seems overly worried about chasing a major distribution deal.
"People right now are into the underground," D.B.O. says assuredly. "Radio is cool, but people know that the underground is where the most talent is coming from."
Plus, D.B.O. says, there's an allure to being off-air.
"When people can't listen to you on the radio, they want to get you even more," he says. "People want what they can't have. They'll seek you out. And we're going to keep giving them something new."
Fortunately for D.B.O., the radio play is already there. And with Shable at his side, he's confident his career will only further grow.
"I like to make music," he says with a shy smile. "Fortunately, I bumped into someone who has 120 percent heart, like me."
Dat Boy O
Available at myspace.com/hustlaholic and Independent Records.
DJ Madboy and 96.1 The Beat Present: Hip Hop Holiday
Available at Independent Records.