The ten best hip-hop shows in Denver this April
SAGE FRANCIS @ FOX THEATRE | THU, 4/18
When evaluating an artist like Sage Francis, the question inevitably arises: Should a musician be cherished for the values they hold and their loyalty to said values or their ability to make enjoyable and listenable music? If it's the former, then Sage Francis is a top-tier MC. His political appetite is insatiable, and you get the feeling that his lyrical crusade will not stop until he finds the change he seeks or his hand can no longer grip the microphone. If it's the latter, on the other hand, then Sage Francis is only okay. He's almost more of a spoken word poet than a true rapper, and he has a firm command of the words he uses, though the energy of his songs occasionally escapes him. (With Prolyphic and Wheelchair Sports Camp.)
DILATED PEOPLES @ CERVANTES' | FRI, 4/19
Dilated Peoples' DJ-centric sound -- with Babu cutting and scratching over recorded loops and Evidence and Iriscience darting in and out of the mix with battle rhymes and political flows -- has helped bring rap back to its essence. By working in a style that Babu calls "new-school traditionalist," the trio channels the spirit of late-'70s, New York hip-hop and mixes it with a Cali vibe, then uses technologies and topics to update the sound so that it's relevant to the times. -- James Mayo
HEIROGLYPHICS @ CASSELMAN'S | FRI, 4/19
Heiroglyphics is a hip-hop collective based in Oakland that was founded by Del tha Funkee Homosapien, having recruited several members from Souls of Mischief. Chances are, even if you've never seen or heard them, you've seen their third eye logo which seems to invariably appear at least once at every hip-hop show. This underground group struck gold -- figuratively speaking -- with their 1998 West Coast classic 3rd Eye Vision, whose songs "You Never Knew" and "At the Helm" cracked the mainstream, if only for a little bit -- tiny fragments of their free-associative style and laid-back vibe are likely still implanted somewhere in your brain. Even on wax, the crew sounds like a real life cypher. They're even better live. The only problem is that you never know who is going to show up.
SPACEGHOSTPURRP @ LARIMER LOUNGE | THU, 4/4
Once good friends with the A$AP crew, SpaceGhostPurrp is frequently credited with engineering the moody, atmospheric aesthetic they've capitalized on. Purrp relishes the darkness, and he manages to tell a lot about himself by revealing very little. His music is deeply introspective and bleakly isolationist, which informs his sinister tone. His aggressive lyrics are, in one respect, played out and worn, but the overall effect is surprisingly sophisticated and fresh. Purrp's debut album Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp is off the beaten path, but his earlier music sounds, at times, like it was recorded on an airport runway, and he creates effects that don't seem possible.