The best rap shows in Denver in November
FRI | DELTRON 3030 at 1STBANK CENTER | 11/15/13
Deltron 3030 isn't so much a group or an album as it is a mode of thought, and there are few hip-hop albums (or albums of any genre, for that matter) with the cinematic quality of this group's self-titled debut. Dan the Automator created deeply textured and darkly evocative soundscapes, aided by Kid Koala's turntablism, as a backdrop for Teren Delvon Jones (aka Del tha Funkee Homosapien, aka Deltron Zero) to tell the tale of how he becomes Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion. Similar to Dan the Automator's earlier work with Kool Keith, Dr. Octagonecologyst, but more coherent and accessible, this album proved that hip-hop could successfully travel to where only geeks had gone before -- silly non sequiturs, outer space fantasy and ridiculous characters all became fair game, and so did the out-crowd that relished them.
THURS HOPSIN/YELAWOLF at OGDEN THEATRE | 11/21/13
Both of the artists featured on this bill share the admirable quality of being unafraid to say anything. Through his "Ill Mind of Hopsin" series, Hopsin has been unafraid to touch on a wide range of subjects from industry fakers, to played-out, real-life archetypes and drug addiction. When Hopsin stays away from corny wordplay and triteness, he has demonstrated a firece independence backed up by a solid flow. Yelawolf's career -- since blowing up with Trunk Muzik, an outstandingly good mixtape, and signing to the illustrious Shady Records -- has unexpectedly slowed. However, the mixtape Trunk Muzik Returns shows that Yelawolf still has the capacity to make good music, and the short film "Growin' Up in the Gutter" (which is disturbingly graphic) shows that he still has plenty of artistic ammunition.
SUN | LUPE FIASCO at OGDEN THEATRE | 11/24/13
Lupe Fiasco's career has had some ups and downs, or, more specifically, a lot of ups and then a lot of downs, but at any and every moment, he is a dynamic ball of talent; he put together arguably the greatest, most epic story hip-hop has ever told across at least two albums, the tale of Michael Young History. Recently, Lupe Fiasco hasn't been able to catch a break; he was too mainstream with Lasers, and too preachy with Food and Liquor II. But you have to admire the heart, and when he finds a compelling delivery device -- like MYH or skate culture like he has before -- he's on top of his game.
TUES | A$AP FERG at BLUEBIRD THEATER | 11/5/13
Coming from the same A$AP mob as fellow Harlemite Rocky, Ferg is the next member to emerge from the group as a potential solo star with his debut album, Trap Lord. While Rocky and Ferg certainly deserve credit for their individual success, it has become clear that the group's executive producer, A&R and mastermind A$AP Yams has been pulling just the right strings from behind the scenes for some time. But even apart from the clout that the A$AP mob has built, Trap Lord stands out as a highly-stylized work that is both relevant and adventurous in trap's musical resurgence.
TUES | CHANCE THE RAPPER at FOX THEATRE | 11/12/13
Chance the Rapper is one of the hottest up-and-coming rappers out right now, and he has yet to release an official album. As such, he's emblematic of the new model for gaining popularity through mixtapes. Last year's 10 Day put him on the radar of hip-hop heads across the country, but he's absolutely blown up after this year's Acid Rap. Chance's mixtape game is so strong, a bootlegged version of it landed at 63 on Billboard's Hip-hop/R&B chart after selling 1,000 copies on iTunes and Amazon in a week.