Denver's Sole To Release 'Let Them Eat Sand' At Marquis Theatre This Friday (02/02)

Denver hip-hop artist Sole is releasing his new album Let Them Eat Sand this Friday, February 2nd. The record, which explores the current US political climate, along with social commentary on pop culture elements like “generations lost to memes and smartphones” was self-produced by Sole and funded through his Patreon. As Sole has said, the record is about “An ‘apocalypse’ that isn't coming, but already here.” Sole has already released the single from the record, the title track “Let Them Eat Sand”:

Sole’s album release show, which is sponsored by KGNU, will be at Marquis Theatre the same night as the record’s digital release. Denver’s Mux Mool, Entrancer, and The Maybe So's will open the evening; tickets here.

Sole.

Sole.

Make sure to catch this Colorado hip-hop artist, listen to Let Them Eat Sand, and catch Sole for yourself at the Marquis this Friday!

Find more on this event here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

A Light in the Darkness: An Interview With Wesley Watkins of Other Black

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Wesley Watkins is a powerhouse. To have a frontman with so much momentum will inherently draw attention to a band as a whole. But Watkins is just one member of an assortment of artistry that demand its presence on stage: what started with nine musicians back in 2012 has fluxed in members since then, but at times has been as many as 24. Meet the Other Black.


All photos per George L. Bosser.


I had the pleasure of seeing Other Black perform at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver recently and interviewed Watkins post-show. The small stage of the venue was crowded with somewhere between 12-16 artists throughout the set who played three hours of original tunes and featured several local artists whose voices carry a worthy message.

“When I thought about getting features for this show, I asked people who are gonna say something everyone needs to hear. If you’ve not experienced injustice, it’s my job as an artist to bring awareness to the fact that this injustice is around. And I want to encourage those who are strong enough to speak up to continue doing so.” Watkins told me.

Watkins and Heffernan.

Watkins and Heffernan.

Kalyn Heffernan from Wheelchair Sports Camp and Stephen “Brer Rabbit” from Flobots, both of whom have been through a lot of injustice in their lives, each made appearances within the crowd at Other Black's Syntax show to speak about current events in the world with fellow audience members.

Wesley Watkins.

Wesley Watkins.

My conversation with Wesley very quickly took a political, bigger-picture kind of turn. I want to believe it was because our heartstrings tuned in as two agents of change trying to shine light on darkness and bring awareness where awareness is so desperately needed during these hard times.

He went on, “As musicians, especially those staying true to what they sound like, [we] have a responsibly to talk about what is happening in our modern world. We have to be careful of what we put out there- this world can’t take any more bullsh*t. And as a musician myself, I want to encourage other musicians out there to stay true to themselves and not try to be a part of a product.”

I agreed with him wholeheartedly. We, as a people, definitely need inspiration and positive, good-hearted individuals to wield social and cultural sentiment, which music and art (and free press!) is ripe with the power to do.  

Watkins with Other Black.

Watkins with Other Black.

So, where does Other Black fall in this spectrum of empowering agency and bringing awareness?

The Other Black is a music project created out of love for hip-hop, jazz, soul, and gospel music, all of which are genres born out of slavery and life struggles experienced by the oppressed, specifically the black population of the US.   

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. It’s what I grew up with and what I wanted to tap into with this band.” Watkins said. “Most of the songs Other Black plays today, I wrote when I was homeless and on the streets back in 2009. And I want people to know that it was by no fault of mine that I ended up homeless.”

Wesley has been in several different bands including Air Dubai, Petals of Spain, and most recently, he toured with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. But he realized that having his own project was what he needed to do to fulfill his purpose as an artist.  

“By the time 2012 rolled around, I was just getting out of being homeless and had been in several different bands with some of my closest friends. But I kept quitting bands. That’s when a close friend of mine brought it to my attention that I needed to start my own. I started Other Black because of my love for soul and hip-hop.”

But when Wesley talks about soul and funk music, he is talking about the “old-school sh*t” like Sly Stone and Sam Cooke, whose music shed light on the daily struggles of black people in America, and 90s hip-hop, which gave a powerful voice to the still oppressed and marginalized black Americans.  

“We have a system that’s really bias. So what you see from black powerful figures in our media today is so bias and it’s perpetuating a stereotype. To have today’s hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar speak the hard truth they don’t want to hear, but need to, is important and it’s empowering the people. At the very least, what I can do with my music is bring awareness to what is unjust in the world.”  

When I started the interview with Wesley, I wanted to know what Other Black implies in its name. I forgot to ask, but now I’m left with only room for interpretation, which is a good thing. What I infer after talking to Wesley and seeing Other Black on stage at Syntax is that the Other Black is a light amidst the darkness. It’s the mold breaking the stereotype. It’s an attempt at bringing awareness through music by making people get down.

“I want to encourage people to experience themselves, because if people can experience themselves to the core of their being and be comfortable with that, then all of a sudden we have people who are comfortable with how other people are starting to experience them.” Watkins told me.

If you want to find out what Other Black means to you, you can. They will be rockin’ in the New Year with The Yawpers at The Oriental Theater on December 31st for New Year’s Eve. You can check out their Facebook page for more information, and to hear their music, click here. Be on the lookout for the Other Black’s first album too, which is still in the works and will feature 14 songs which more than likely will encourage you to experience yourself. And that’s powerful.

-Mirna

All photos per George L. Bosser. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Boulder Rapper Sweeney Is Spitting Around The Colorado Scene

By: Annie Kane

Sweeney is popping up a slew of collaborations for a reason.

Jack Sweeney (better known simply as Sweeney), is breathing life into Colorado’s limp rap and hip-hop culture. At only twenty years old, Sweeney has already found and mastered his recognizable voice, both acoustically and lyrically. Born in San Francisco, and a Boulder transplant since age three, Sweeney is a part of local music group, PRiME, which focuses on promoting rising talent in the Boulder and Denver area. Before gathering his own crew, he taught himself how to produce and record his own music. Since gaining traction and becoming a part of PRiME, Sweeney has collaborated with other artists such as singer Sophie Kloor and producer GXGVX (whom you can expect on his upcoming mixtape). His well-rounded knowledge of music and production skills provide him with the needed attributes for rapid success. 

Sweeney.

Sweeney.

The first time I met Sweeney, he quietly walked into my apartment to film a freestyle video. Wearing camo pants, red converse, and a gray hoodie underneath an army green vest, he propped his mic up on the porch and lit a cigarette while patiently waiting for the cameras to be set up. When the pulsating beat came on, it was as if a wave washed over him as he jumped into his lyrics. The late afternoon sunlight filtered in at intense angles as he poured his heart out in sharp, poetic rhymes, catapulting himself onto the throne of rap (check the track King Shit). Watching Sweeney is captivating: even passing pedestrians and guys on the neighboring frat roof stopped to gaze towards his performance. When he finished and stepped away from the mic, the curious audience clapped and cheered.

Sweeney is so captivating because he is so different. There are no other artists that have his unique combination of sound: his lazy-like voice somehow spins out words one right after another, pairing well with any of the fresh beats behind him. He can go from “Boom-Bap to new school Atlanta style”. This ability to contrast himself is most evident in his tracks “Flock” (featuring Nature Nate and Stackztoo) and “Long Road” (featuring Sophie Kloor).

Listen to "Flock": 

The content of Sweeney’s music is rooted firmly in his own experience, giving it a raw personal touch. In addition to drawing inspiration from the life around him, he tends to watch old horror films while writing for an added edge (i.e. The Exorcist). This combination results in some of the most metaphorical lyricism out there. Take, for example, the hook in the song “Bottle Talk”:

“What you say when that bottle start talkin’/do you guzzle and grab another to stop it/or do you question the ethics that you’ve been livin’ in/sleeping in the grass that the snake still sinnin’ in.”

Listen to Sweeney's track "Bottle Talk":

Sweeney’s hunger is sure to drive him to rise to the top of the rap game while simultaneously bringing more hip-hop culture to Colorado, a state that could use some diversification in their music scene.

You can listen to Sweeney’s The J. Sweeney LP, his Slenderaps mixtapeand other tracks on his Soundcloud. His next mixtape, Return of the Old, is set to debut later this year.

You can catch Sweeney live March 26th and April 4th in Denver. Stay updated by following Sweeney on his instagram, twitter, and facebook.

-Annie

Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Jerney: The Denver Hip Hop Artist Dropping Mixtapes Faster Than We Can Write About Him

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver's Jerney is dropping music fast and we're listening.

dENVER HIP HOP ARTIST JERNEY.

dENVER HIP HOP ARTIST JERNEY.

Maybe you were lucky enough to catch local hip hop artist Jerney’s recent set at CU’s Homecoming Concert (he opened for Radical Something). Or maybe you’ve seen Jerney at a show down in Denver, where he’s based. Or maybe this is your first time hearing about the man behind the mixtape “Motion Picture Season One ep. 1-8.” But in any case, this guy has been snapping up a lot of attention lately. So we wanted the chance to chat with him his big move west, what it was like working with Netherlands-based producer Thovobeats (Thomas Vos), and what his plans are for the fall. And we got it! Here’s what Jerney told us:

Hey man- thanks for sitting down with us. We’re pumped to be diving into the local hip hop scene. First off- where was it you moved from?

New Jersey.

East Coast. That’s cool.

Yeah growing up in New Jersey, I was introduced to a variety of genres. And that variety has really helped me to shape my own sound that I think is pretty distinct to just me.

Sweet. Speaking of genres, we noticed that there are some definite jazz elements happening in “Motion Picture Season One ep. 1-8.” Tell us about that.

I think the jazzy production elements definitely compliment my style and bring out my best lyrics. And my fans seem to really like it!

JERNEY PERFORMING.

JERNEY PERFORMING.

Nice. Diving into your sound a bit more, we are really diggin’ “Nobody.” It feels like this dark turn in the album that we want to keep going back to. Tell us about your writing behind this track.

Thanks! Actually the making of “Nobody” was a long process because of how complex the beat is. Once we had that, I actually struggled with writer’s block for the lyrics. After a few days, I just freestyled most of the verse, which made the creation of the song a lot more natural. “Nobody” is about police violence, and how in the end, we are all just pawns in the eyes of the government.

A dark, but really cool turn indeed then. So we noticed that Thovobeats produced a majority of your songs on this mixtape. What was it like working with him?

I first linked up with Thovo on a previous project, which inspired me to reach out to him when I created this mixtape. His style stood out to me the most, especially considering he is only 19 and lives in the Netherlands.

J.

J.

That had to be interesting working with him at such a distance. So what’s it been like getting involved in Denver’s hip hop scene? And what has been your favorite venue to check someone out at since moving there?

Since arriving in Colorado, I actually believe Boulder has the best music scene. But overall there are really talented rappers coming from all over the state- Lily Fangz and Povi rep Denver and then the No Coast guys rep from literally all over. But there are just so many good rappers out here- I can’t name them all. And my favorite venue thus far has been the Fillmore.

Well that’s awesome to hear! So what are your plans this Fall? Any upcoming shows? A tour? A music video in the works?

Right now we are in the process of filming a music video for “Nobody” with a great team- shout out to Lance. We’re planning to drop it by the end of the year or early 2016. I also just dropped a new EP this week called “Three Piece Suit” and it’s a collaborative project with Boog, the New Jersey based artist featured on “Motion Picture Season One ep. 1-8.” I’m also working on booking a few shows in Denver and in Boulder, but nothing I can announce yet.

Sweet. We hope to catch one soon. In the meantime listen to “Motion Picture Season One ep. 1-8” here:

And Jerney's Most Recent Drop, “Three Piece Suit” can be streamed here:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Local Hip Hop: Tell Us Who We Should Know About & Go See The Blue Scholars Tomorrow Night.

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Tell us who we should know in local hip-hop.

Hey Boulder! We’ll be honest. We haven’t covered every genre that lives around these mountain parts. But we’re trying to change that! We’ve touched base (bass?) over the past couple of weeks with a couple of Denver hip hop artists for upcoming features and we’re pretty pumped to dive into their scene with them. If you have recommendations on any local hip hop artists that you think we should check out, let us know! Comment below or message us on FB, Twitter, or Instagram. We are definitely looking to promote more sounds.

The Blue Scholars.

The Blue Scholars.

In the meantime, there is a hip hop show happening at the Fox tomorrow night. And you should check it out! The Blue Scholars have made their way to the B from Seattle, Washington. The duo consists of Geo the Rapper (who also goes by prometheusbrown) and Sabzi the Beat Guy. You can check out their latest music video for their track “Anna Karina” below. And then make your way to the Fox to hear it live yo:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.