- Blaze Ya Dead Homie may be an undead emcee, but his oft-theatrical, stylized brand of horrorcore brings him to life onstage.
So goes the lore on his self-titled 2000 EP and the following year’s full-length album, 1 Less G n da Hood, at any rate. In our more mundane universe, Detroit-based emcee Chris Rouleau was a member of various underground hip-hop outfits in the early ’90s, with limited success. He nearly quit performing, but after joining the fold at Insane Clown Posse’s Psychopathic Records, he developed his Blaze persona and performed — to great approval — at the inaugural Gathering of the Juggalos in 2000.
While Rouleau’s rebirth as an artist was obviously more metaphorical, Blaze comes vividly to life through the music — horrorcore consciously styled after late ’80s and early ’90s gangsta rap and punctuated with appropriately macabre sonic flourishes, skits and synthesizer lines too ghoulish for G-Funk. Lyrically, the proceedings are a curious mix of grounded-in-reality tales of violence and the more cartoonish Grand Guignol imagery you might expect from a supernatural rapper. And though there’s some potential for tonal whiplash, Blaze has developed a loyal fanbase, and his records have consistently risen on the Billboard rap and indie charts through the years.
In keeping with the theatrical, makeup-heavy antics of the greater Psychopathic Records family, Blaze was also a member of the mercurial supergroup Dark Lotus, born of collaborations between Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid. And indeed, Blaze has since joined Twiztid’s record label Majik Ninja Entertainment, where he released his most recent LP, 2016’s The Casket Factory.
Meanwhile, for those looking for hip-hop of a less ghastly bent, Pueblo’s Brues Alehouse Brewing Co. is the place to be on Thursday, Jan. 17, with an evening featuring the heavily stacked lineup of Oakland’s Zion I, Chicago’s Illuminati Congo, Los Angeles’ 2Mex and local standouts Bullhead*ded.
Zion I, formed as a duo but now centering solely on the efforts of emcee and producer Zumbi, made their debut in 2000 with the innovative, futuristic LP Mind Over Matter, and they’ve since collaborated with such heavy hitters as Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock and Del the Funky Homosapien. Zion I’s latest LP of “conscious, party-rocking hip-hop,” Ritual Mystik, was released in November 2018 and received enthusiastically by fans, as was their performance at the sold-out 30th anniversary of Reggae on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in August 2018.
Illuminati Congo have also passed the “Red Rocks approval test,” having appeared at the venue’s own 10th anniversary celebration, headlined by Pretty Lights. The Rastafari-influenced outfit kept busy in 2018, releasing the LP Delphi, the EP Illumine the Nadis and the single “Jewels,” produced by Colorado’s own Motifv.
Bullhead*ded, of course, needs little introduction to local hip-hop fans, who hopefully all have their very own copies of the group’s album Boiled Bones, released last September. However, more recently, the group released the captivating single “Owl Cries,” which features contributions from 2Mex and The Haunted Windchimes’ Chela Lujan.
You can catch Bullhead*ded and 2Mex again on Jan. 18 at Your Mom’s House in Denver and back in Colorado Springs on Jan. 20 at The Temple of Higher Consciousness.
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