Premiere: Future Joy's New Music Video for "Thirsty" Is Saxually Satisfying

Denver’s Future Joy are known for their sultry sax sounds. They’re self-proclaimed as a “saxually active glitch hop” outfit and 303 Magazine recently called their new self-titled record the “sweet spot between the heavy hitters and sexy saxophone serenades.” Today, the band dropped their music video for the track “Thirsty” and we’re stoked to premiere it for you here:

Future Joy, comprised of Zach Simms on saxophone (MLIMA) and Frederic Park on percussion, is a seriously tasty combination of all things electronic with sax, funk, and hip-hop thrown in. The result is saxually satisfying, and “Thirsty” feels like a banger from its opening riff.



Denver’s Annabelle, whose whisper vocals are featured on the track, stars in the video alongside dancers Gina and Sheridan. Annabelle choreographed the video, which was filmed and edited by Connor Tieulie. She also sings on much of Future Joy’s latest record.

The video’s location may look familiar to some Denverites- it was shot at Tetra Lounge and The Bolt Factory; later Jeffrey Charles Stanley added in the animations and graphics. These give the video a real psych party vibe.

Said Simms of filming the video, “We didn’t have too much planning- we just went with the flow of the locations and let the editors do their thing.”

Simms and Park.

Simms and Park.

The track “Thirsty” was recorded in Simms’ living room before the duo made their way to Side 3 Studios for finishing touches, which included Annabelle’s vocals and her opening a can of seltzer water because everyone knows LaCroix is the best way to booze these days.

Simms and Park have already started working on their next record, and are planning for an early 2019 release. Prior to, they’ve got a Colorado tour in the works, so keep up with their live dates here and turn up with “Thirsty.”

The Top 10 Must-See Artists at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival 2018

Beyond the headliners, there are a number of awesome acts scheduled for this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. Here are our must-sees:



Kweku Collins

Kweku Collins is from a suburb just north of Chicago, but has been lumped in with the rest of the Chicago artists on the scene. Collins’ music is a unique blend of self-produced beats over his own lyrics, which float somewhere between rapping and droned-out singing. He performed a wild set at Lollapalooza last year, and is sure to bring that same energy to the Pitchfork stage.

Ravyn Lenae

Pitchfork is notable for bringing a collective of artists together at this festival, but something they’re especially good at is tailoring the talent to represent not only the diversity of the industry, but also the Chicago acts who are hustling to the top. Ravyn Lenae is one of these special acts, along with Saba, Noname, Chicago transplant Smino, and northern suburban Kweku Collins. Ravyn Lenae recently released an EP with one of The Internet’s members, Steve Lacy, and went on tour as an opener for Sza, both have which have skyrocketed Lenae’s career this year. Lenae has migrated from a local Chicago favorite to a worldwide obsession. Still, she hones in on her city’s spirit and is sure to have a truly magical set.


Smino is a St. Louis native, but moved to Chicago to pursue his career as a rapper. He slept on studio floors while working non-stop and was eventually welcomed into Chicago’s tight knit music scene. Along with Ravyn Lenae, Smino was on tour with Sza, helping boost his tunes up the charts as well. His punchy lyrics and riffs of deliverance set him apart, so his set is sure to smash.


Syd is the breakout star hailing from two of Los Angeles’ most notable artist groups, The Internet and Odd Future. She worked with The Internet’s album Ego Death, which was nominated for a Grammy and has helped shape the sounds of many of LA’s influential artists. Since her debut album, Fin, Syd has been receiving nothing but accolades for her sultry blend of current hip-hop production with a voice that harks back to 90s R&B pop. Syd is a hallmark artist of our generation and an openly gay female who started off in two all-male rap groups and hustled her way into the world’s most competitive music scene.

Listen to our must-see artists on our Pitchfork playlist:


Saba is one of Chicago’s most special artists, and is the performer you should count yourself lucky to catch this year. At only 23 years young, Saba not only writes some of the most powerful lyrics you’ll listen to, he has also started a foundation and scholarship in the name of his recent friend John Walt. He’s an artist that not only puts on for his city, but he puts on for people. He dropped his second album prior to touring this year called CARE FOR ME, which is a migration from his previous sound but retains his incredible ability for raw storytelling (listen to “LIFE” for a reference on this ability).

Blood Orange

Dev Hynes, better known by his stage name Blood Orange, brought his ethereal sound to Pitchfork a few years ago and we’re more than excited to see his name on the lineup again. His 2016 album, Freetown Sound, combined a blend of sounds in and outside of music to create a textured landscape unlike any other. He claims he sat in Washington Square Park in New York City to write most of this record. It was there where he caught and recorded a lot of the extra sounds you hear throughout this album, such as a saxophone being played in the distance. The integration of these environmental sounds creates a mysterious, diary-like experience for the listener. You won’t want to miss catching these vibes in the late afternoon sun on Saturday.

Big Thief

Brooklyn indie rock band Big Thief are bringing their synth-tinged guitars and rock-influenced siren-like vocals to Pitchfork’s fest. Their songs are a nice mix of slow, dreamy tunes and more aggressive rock beats. This sonic mix has landed them on a tour with Conor Oberst (frontman of Bright Eyes, one of indie rock’s most legendary acts), as well as an NPR tiny desk concert.

Julie Byrne

Being compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell takes a special person, and Julie Byrne is evidently one of the rare ones. Leaving home at 18, she stumbled into music to quench her own happiness and has since established a name for herself. Living a wandering lifestyle prior to her recognition has molded her music into a soft and observant sound, which will sound beautiful outdoors at Pitchfork.

Joshua Abrams

Joshua Abrams will be bringing some much needed jazz to Pitchfork, a genre too often underrepresented especially at festivals. An early member of the group The Roots, Abrams has built up his career in Chicago’s strong jazz scene. His set will be a unique vibe on Friday, and will set the weekend off perfectly for any music enthusiast.

The War on Drugs

Indie rock veterans The War on Drugs recently won a 2017 Grammy for “Best Rock Album.” They tell fantastic stories in their lyrics while also making some thought-provoking statements, simultaneously rocking into immense guitar tangents that take listeners to another dimension, and Adam Granduciel’s voice has a hauntingly beautiful tone guaranteed to give a listener chills.

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

Kayla Rae On Working With Other Female Artists & Women's Empowerment In Music

By: Annie Kane

It’s around 10AM in Denver’s holiday clad Union Station, and the place is already humming with travelers passing through and freelancers working diligently amongst the couches. As I sit down with local Denver singer Kayla Rae, we reminisce over what it must’ve been like to have traveled during the heyday of trains. She takes another sip of her green tea before we dive into our thought-provoking conversation on her artistry, the importance of self-love, and the empowering feeling of working with other confident women.

So let’s start with a bit about your background. You’re from Colorado Springs- how was that environment? How do you feel like that shaped you?

It’s kind of a small town, so I had a lot of good friends around me. I went to okay schools, but I liked Colorado Springs because it wasn’t too fast, you know? It was a little more laid back. It was the perfect place I feel like for my mom because there was five of us kids and just her, so a slower city was better ‘cause she didn’t have to keep such an eye on us. She was so busy all the time anyways, so there wasn’t a whole lot of trouble we could get into! But, you know Denver was always the place to come when you were a kid on the weekends or when you’re a teenager and you want to come party and stuff, it’s always like, ‘Let’s go up to Denver, there’s way more happening up there!’ I was a really good kid, I never really got into anything crazy. My sisters were kind of wild but I’ve always been ‘the good child.’ My mom always trusted me a lot, and I think that was because of the friends I had and there really wasn’t shit to do in Colorado Springs! It’s kind of boring. So, Denver’s a lot different.

Kayla Rae.

Kayla Rae.

So were your mom or your friends into music?

My mom used to sing when she was younger- a lot actually- she has a huge passion for singing. But she started smoking when she was really young so she obviously doesn’t have the best voice anymore. She always played really good music when I was growing up, like Sugar Hill, The Carpenters. So she was always really musical, but no one else in my family writes music or makes music, and no one on my dad’s side does either. My dad listened to a lot of jazz and so I was always around good music, but I think I’m the only creator in the family.

So you feel like you fell into creating music naturally?

Yeah, well I think when I was a kid I was writing first as a form of expression, like poetry, and stories, and journal entries, like I always just wrote stuff. So then eventually I turned them into songs because I loved to sing. You know, I feel like I was terrible at it as a kid but I loved to do it, so then when I got older it was kind of just what became of me. It was just who I was.

And then you went somewhere to learn how to produce?

Yeah! So when I graduated high school I actually applied for Berklee College of Music in Boston. I didn’t make it in the fall semester, but I got accepted in the spring, so I started in 2010. When you get there, they give you a Macbook and it comes with all different music programs like Logic, Reason, and Garageband. You take basic classes on music production and music theory, but I was just so excited to have my own software to do it ‘cause I was always in other people’s studios, so I was like, ‘I wanna learn how to make beats and record all my own songs!’ So I would do that- I would just make them. They gave us a little midi keyboard as well and you would just hook it up to your laptop and you could just create and record through your laptop speakers, so I would just make all these horrible sounding songs. But yeah, I was just learning how to produce, how to write and record myself, which I think is mostly why I do all my own recording now, because having that control is a lot better. Then you don’t have to wait on other people’s time.

Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. It’s definitely easy to link with other people now with social media, but do you feel like your music is more “you” because you have all that control and ability to actually do it yourself?

I think so. It is nice getting to work with other people sometimes because you have other ideas coming into the pot, but it’s also very liberating when you’re by yourself because you don’t have opinions of other people, like, ‘Oh, well maybe you shouldn’t do this,’ you know? So yeah, you don’t have to wait on anybody else. A lot of people are so busy nowadays with their own things that it takes awhile to get stuff back. And me, when I have ideas, I want them out right away. I’m the worst person at planning and making things go accordingly because when something is just buzzing in my head when it’s good I’m just like, ‘Okay, I need to get this out now.’ So it’s really convenient that I have a studio at home and I can do that on my own because I couldn’t imagine having all these song ideas and having to wait to book studio time to do them.

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Would you say you’re protective over who you let into your creative bubble?

Yeah, and it’s not even on purpose, it’s just, I need the right energy around me at this time because I don’t want anything to interrupt this creative process. You know? And I’m never too good to take anyone’s advice who would say, ‘Maybe this would sound good this way.’ So I’ll ask that of people that I trust- I’ll play music for them and ask what they think about it. But I think you have to be selective when you’re in any craft.

And your music is pretty personal.

Yeah, sometimes it gets… yeah. (laughs) It’s like therapy sometimes!

That’s good! So would you say you make music for yourself mostly?

Yeah! You know what’s crazy is that I was talking to another artist about this yesterday, I was actually working with YaSi yesterday. I invited her over and we finally got to work together, which is something we’ve wanted to do for awhile. But we were talking about that- about making music for ourselves, and that’s always how it starts. With any person who does any kind of creative expression, you do it because you need to. And I think once people start catching on to you and they start listening and you see people's reactions, you want to do it for them. You want to do it for their praise, but you have to remember that it’s not for anybody but you. And sometimes some songs don’t need to be heard. YaSi and I were talking about that yesterday too, just like that’s such a good point that you don’t always have to share things with people, and that’s how you keep it for yourself. Some people use music to heal, and that’s really what it is for me because, I mean I write everyday but I really do my best writing when I’m sad. I don’t know why that is! (laughs) And so some of that stuff people will never hear.

So when you perform live, what kind of environment do you try to cultivate?

It’s so crazy that you say that, ‘cause as artists we have the power to create an atmosphere. I just want people to feel comfortable- I want them to feel really in tune with themselves and with what I’m saying, and I feel like it’s like that when I perform. I feel like I’m respected up there which means so much, and I feel like I have people’s attention so I can pretty much say anything that I want. I feel really comfortable up there, and that’s how I want other people to feel- comfortable to kind of just get lost in the music for a second, almost like I’m in my bedroom. I close my eyes a lot when I sing, and I think it’s ‘cause I’m taken back there.

Is there anything you want your audience to take out of your music?

Inspiration to do what you want, you know. It’s so hard to get caught up in this world and what you think other people want from you, what they expect of you. I just want my music to represent me fully, and let people know that this is just who I am and it’s okay to be who you are too, it’s okay to do what you love. You know, you can make money off what you love, you can live happily doing it and it doesn’t have to be a struggle for you, you can do it and be free. And that’s what I want from people to get when they see me perform and listen to my music, like, ‘Wow, she’s just doing this for her.’

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That’s awesome. So what makes you feel the most empowered?

When I’m working with other women. I feel like naturally, we all just feel like we’re so different, we all feel like no one understands us and we’re just all alone in this world, or maybe that’s just me! (laughs) So when I get around other women, I just feel like ten times myself. I just feel like I can do anything. So I like to keep good solid women around me who also have goals, and they empower me. When I feel really confident in myself I’m empowered, when I feel sexy I’m empowered, and I get all that from [working with] other women. Which is crazy.

So how do you feel about breaking into the music industry as a woman?

I feel like it’s kind of hard because most of the workers in the music [industry] are men. You know, the producers and the engineers, and sometimes they get the wrong ideas when you just wanna work. Like, ‘Nah I just wanna get my shit done!’ But I do think this is a good time for women because I feel like there’s so many women doing so much right now. You have so many women in power: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, even women on the come up like Tori Kelly, Kehlani, just all these great women in music. I feel like it’s probably going to be a little easier now, you just have to remember to be yourself and not try to be like anybody else.

Yeah, I feel like Sza cracked this huge gate of vulnerability.

Hell yeah, Sza’s amazing. Just so many women doing great things and it makes me so proud, because, I was actually talking to my girlfriend about this, and she was like, ‘You know, the women in this city are doing exactly what the women everywhere else are doing. And who knows what the women in other cities are doing and how they’re coming together and holding each other down and lifting each other up.’ It’s just, it’s a women’s world, I don’t care what anybody else says! (laughs)

What female artists do you most look up to?

All of them, oh my gosh. I really, really love Sade. I think she’s amazing and I used to listen to her a lot when I was younger. I took so much from Aaliyah when I was a kid, like I modeled everything after her it was crazy. And still to this day I watch all of her stuff and it just never gets old for me. I just love how she was so cool, just naturally cool. It seemed like she didn’t have to try, she seemed so sweet. Her music was kinda gangsta, but not really, she was sweet over her music so it was a nice balance and I really loved that about her. Now, I really look up to Rihanna, I think she’s amazing. As a woman in music, in fashion and in business. And she’s been doing this for so long. I really look up to Beyoncé, I love her so, so much. (pauses to think) There’s so many. I think Sza is incredible, I think she is such a good storyteller, you know what I mean? She’s not afraid to write about what she’s been through and it sounds like these crazy-ass stories that you get lost in but you’re also like, ‘Me too, I’ve kind of been through that!’

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Outside of the glory and fame of celebrity and things you can get caught up with, where do you really see your music going?

I just want to get a good amount of people who really like it all over the world who I can come to and perform it for. When I think about fame, and the people who have that, I just think about how unhappy they might be, like how much it must to be keep up with always being talked about or people always trying to find you and how that must really interrupt your peace of mind. I don’t want that, it just sounds painful. I just want people who really like my music and who are down to buy it and down to listen to it, and if I can make a living off of just traveling and performing and making music that’s really all I wanna do. The reality is we have to pay to live, and I think you just have to find something you like to do that helps you do that, that keeps you here, that keeps you fed, that keeps you clothed. If you’re good at something and you love to do it then make that the way that you live. I just wanna take care of my family with music and meet a lot of new people and go to a lot of different places. I don’t want all that extra shit! People kill themselves because they’re so caught up in the pressure and I think we live in that world now unfortunately where everyone is being looked at and there’s this pressure to be perfect and to have all your shit together, and it’s like no, nobody is like that in real life. It’s not even about all the attention, like sometimes it’s nice but if that’s all that you’re after, you’re just going to be so unhappy. I think about the things that make me happy, and it’s not that.

How do you stay so grounded? Have you always been this level-headed?

Well, one, my mom would slap the shit out of me if I ever came home trying to be bougie! But I just think, like, it is hard and sometimes I get caught up in it. I get caught up in what people think of me or what they’re gonna think of my next song. I think you just have to remind yourself, ‘Why do I do this? Why do I love this?’ I think it’s an internal thing and obviously the people you keep around you, too. No one in my life treats me as if I’m better than anybody else. None of us should treat anybody like that- we’re all equals. So I think it’s definitely keeping good people around you and loving yourself that is really important. If you don’t love yourself, you’re going to try to find all that from other people. So yeah, just really being comfortable with who you are. I feel like there’s so much to live up to. I don’t want my daughters or my nieces to feel like they have to be something unreal.

If you had a daughter, how would you try to guide her away from that pressure?

I would really just press self-love, because I feel like that’s really where it comes from, is inside. I notice that at times when I don’t feel good about myself, that’s when I try to do more with my appearance or I try to be extra on social media because I feel like I need people to tell me I’m doing okay. But that never fulfills me completely, you know. So I would really just teach her to love herself, and you’re different, and you’re unique, and that’s okay. You’re going to make decisions that people aren’t going to agree with, and that’s okay. I think in doing that you learn to appreciate who you are.

Keep up with Kayla Rae’s latest on her Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud.


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

Denver's Annabelle Raps About The Importance Of Self-Love

By: Taylor Naiman

Annabelle is The Mile High’s very own 20-year-old female rap artist, and she’s making big moves in the industry. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, she returned to her native Denver to hone her sound. Her introduction to the Denver scene was over a year ago at her first open mic and at the time, she felt like one of Denver’s only female artists. Still, she kept pursuing more stage opportunities at places like The Gothic and Cervantes’ Masterpiece, and while doing so, explored a range of sounds: hip-hop, jazz, rap, and soul.



Throughout the duration of her first EP, The Desire, Annabelle creates a storybook and gives the audience her true raw emotion. She has found a balance both lyrically and musically where she can explore different sounds and her own vulnerabilities. Her music is “melodic, soulful and highly vulnerable with hip-hop and jazz undertones.” It is open, emotional, and conveys her vulnerabilities. She strives to give her audience a spiritual awakening.

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Annabelle told me that she is most influenced by artists she herself can dance to, such as Ashanti, Missy Elliott, 2Pac, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony and J. Cole. Lyrically, she likes J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, and Kendrick Lamar. She told me, “I think I hold the same potential as any one of those legends.” And maybe that confidence is just what she needs.

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Currently, Annabelle is working on three EPs in the studio, composed with a new energy and varied tones. They are going to be all about her life journey and “how people can be dangerous.” Each will unmask more of her vulnerabilities pertaining to relationships, self-love, and her continued growth. She describes this music as being reminiscent of an ambient Odesza sound with a  jazzy feel and a hint of a “50 Cent club record.” When she is not in the studio, you can catch her either riding horses or modeling in front of the camera.

Well-attuned to her style and vibe, Annabelle is someone to keep an eye out for. I recently had the chance to ask her a few more questions about her music:

What was your favorite song to write and why?

Should I’ because of the whole story behind it. I walked in on my ex with another girl in his bed. I was pretty calm about the whole situation at the time and didn’t know how to feel about it right when it happened. I tried to write a song about the way I was feeling and it went a couple of different ways before I finished it. But I went from the honest, vulnerable side when I wrote ‘Should I.’ It’s the battle, where you ask yourself, ‘What should I do?’ For me, it is a very poetic song where I can prove my self-love.

What is one piece of advice you would give to another female in the music industry?

Always know your worth and do not settle for anything less. Do not be afraid to tell people, ‘no’ in this industry. Have the confidence to do so! If your ideas do not align with those of other individuals, do not settle.

Learn more about Annabelle and her music here.


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

Review: Pat Ice Injects Hip-Hop Tunes With "Krispy Vibes"

By: Allan Tellis

Hip-hop, like any other art form, requires innovation. Unfortunately, hip-hop specifically can have the propensity to be stagnated and stuck on the dominant sound of the culture at the moment. Due to the speed at which changes in hip-hop move, it is even more obvious when artists are riding the wave or coattails of the current trends in the genre. As one half of the duo Pat Ice, Boulder artist and New Orleans native J-Ice is focused on shaking that stagnation and pushing the culture forward. His partner in crime, Play Pat, is a production-focused artist who infuses his trip-hop, blurry vibes into the duo’s interesting style. Their sound  is innovative, yet draws back on many of the technical skills cemented by the founders of the genre.



Although the group’s music has the ability to get a party lit, it doesn’t compromise the lyrical skill set that so many emcees hold in high regard. It also doesn’t particularly ride the sound pattern of current club music with heavy trap snare lines or West Coast funk-laden influences. Pat Ice has managed to create their own sound, which is a feat in itself in today’s hip-hop arena. Their smooth sonics, or as J-Ice phrases it, “krispy vibes,” can be found most notably in their tracks “Don’t Get Offended” and “Online.” These melodically upbeat, yet slow tempo tunes make the perfect backdrop for a relaxing drive through the city or a kickback in the living room with your closest amigos.

Pat Ice also has a strong lyrical pedigree, flexing his wordplay on tracks like “Ripple Effect,” so don’t let the group’s laidback vibes give any of you whack rappers any ideas. Overall this Boulder hip-hop duo is definitely worth checking out.


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

Colorado Hip-Hop Culture Taking Over Boulder House This Friday

By: Hannah Oreskovich

After Trev Rich’s recent Denver performance, it’s clear that Colorado hip-hop culture is thriving. This Friday, March 31st, the takeover continues with a slew of talented Colorado performers spittin’ for you live at Boulder House. The event, put on by Black Nation Management and The Denver Clone Store, will have you bumpin’ all night while sippin’ specials from Snova Vodka.

Watch AP’s official video for “Dead Weight”:

Denver’s Anthony Porch, better known as AP, who you may remember from Trev Rich’s Ogden show, will share Friday’s stage with Reve Kallel and Dylan Montayne. This will be a big show for AP since he just announced last week he’s on the verge of releasing some dope new music. Dee Langston, Looney Ando, Boulder’s DJ JaryMane, and Boulder’s DJ David Devine are also on the bill, rounding out the night with bangin’ beats.

Check out DJ JaryMane’s “Still Life”:

We were told to expect “a bevy of rhymes, progressive beats, and dynamic performances,” so don’t miss out on this event! We’re giving away four tickets on our Instagram, so roll there for your chance to win! Full event info and tickets here.


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.

BADBADNOTGOOD Talk To Us About Who They Want To Work With Next

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD are best known for their interpretations and collaborations in the realm of modern hip-hop. The four piece post-hop and jazz improv group first came together in 2010 at Humber College’s jazz program over their love of MF Doom and Odd Future. Founding members Matthew A. Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinksi (drums) actually released their “Odd Future Sessions Part 1” on YouTube after their jazz instructors were unimpressed with the project. Ironically, it grabbed the attention of Tyler, The Creator himself and went viral. Since then, Leland Whitney (saxophone) has joined the mix, and together the quartet have worked with Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, Ghostface Killah, Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Mick Jenkins, Kaytranada, and more. The band are currently touring on their fifth studio album, aptly titled 'IV,' which BBC Radio 6 Music called the #1 album of 2016. This weekend, BADBADNOTGOOD play Denver’s Gothic Friday (01/13), and will take Boulder’s Fox Theatre stage with Sur Ellz Saturday (01/14). Grab tickets while you can here, and in the meantime, check out our chat with this crazy talented crew:

You guys had quite the international tour recently. Any spots along the way you’re really hoping to get back to in 2017?

We went to a lot of new countries we’d never seen before last year- Japan, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico- they would all be amazing to visit again but we have a great time everywhere!

BBC Radio 6 Music picked 'IV' as their album of the year for 2016. What was your initial reaction to hearing that?

Very, very surprised to be honest. There were so many incredible albums we loved on that list and we didn’t feel like ours was a serious contender! We’re extremely happy about the recognition IV has gained. We’re also eternally grateful to our friends in the UK like Gilles Peterson, and all the other DJs at the BBC and otherwise for all the support they’ve shown us over the years!

What were some of your favorite albums dropped in 2016?

Solange’s A Seat at the Table, Kaytranada’s 99.9%, Anderson.Paak’s Malibu, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, A Tribe Called Quest’s We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, and Andy Shauf’s The Party, among many others!



Festival lineup announcements have begun. Anything you can hint at about your summer plans?

Sure! We’re going to be playing some incredible festivals across the world- Bonnaroo and Primavera to name a couple that have been announced. We’ll be around Europe, North America, and a few other trips are in the works. We’re also going to have a lot of time at home this year to record and get into some different projects! Peace and love for 2017.

Over the past couple of years, your collaborations with various hip-hop artists have been incredibly impressive. Who is next on your short list of peeps you’re hoping to work with?

We’d love to get a concise project together with Kaytranada. We’ve got so much work in the vault that has yet to come out, and he’s a great friend who’s a pleasure to work with. That’s probably top of the list right now. There are a bunch of other friends in Toronto who we’re stoked to record with too!

Give IV a listen:


When are you headed back in the studio?

Pretty soon probably! No idea what we’re going to work on, or what it’s going to sound like though.

If you had to tell us in one word what it was like working with Ghostface Killah on an entire album ('Sour Soul'), what would it be?

Wow one word... Challenging but also rewarding and amazing!

Make sure to catch BBNG at their Colorado shows this weekend; keep up with BADBADNOTGOOD here.


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.

Indigenous Eco Hip-Hop Artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Is Fighting for Climate Change & Releasing New Music

By: Claire Woodcock

In the spring I caught a short viral video, a NowThis compilation that summed up how 21 teen activists are suing the U.S. government for not doing enough to prevent climate change. The federal government filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, but it was overruled in federal court. If the lawsuit passes, these meddling kids could really put limitations on how the government engages in fossil fuel projects. And that’s how I first came to hear of Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the 16-year-old indigenous change agent at the of heart of the environmental movement.

“It takes a community to raise a child and I feel like that’s kind of the way that I was raised, you know? By my community. And that’s what has made my voice, that’s what has granted my voice access to reach a lot of people: because of the support I’ve had from community members and a lot of mentors, and a lot of people who have kind of helped guide me and given me support while at the same time letting me do my own thing [to] find out for myself what I want to do and who I want to be.” Martinez recently told me.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez of Earth Guardians.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez of Earth Guardians.

At age six, Martinez marked the beginning of his path into activism. He then discovered a passion for eco hip-hop three years later with the help of his siblings and the past generation of Earth Guardians, a Boulder-based nonprofit that use hip-hop as a tool to engage and share an action plan with the world. As youth director of the Earth Guardians, Martinez released Generation RYSE with his siblings in 2014. Its punchy production adds to the charm of its raps on climate change.

“I was 14 then; my voice was still figuring itself out. I mean the content was definitely more super-geared toward movement, like cause-related things. [My] new project gathers a lot of elements and things I’ve experienced over the last year that have helped shape me as a person as well as shaped my style of writing.”

Watch Xiuhtezcatl Martinez's "Indigenous Roots":

Martinez says the biggest difference between what he was doing then and what he’s doing now has a lot to do with age and maturity. The environmentalist is gearing up to release Break Free, which will mark his move into more serious eco hip-hop territory. The new EP is set to drop in November, and will explore the role that mental health plays in activism.

While Martinez's siblings will make appearances on at least half the tracks on Break Free, he’s been outsourcing much of the project himself. He’s brought a few of his producer friends into the mix, like up-and-coming singer/songwriter/rappers Tru and Raury. Martinez told me that other production inspiration came from artists like J Cole and Chance the Rapper, teasing during our phone interview about a possible collaboration with Chance. Martinez connected with the Chicago-based rapper at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit.

“I think bringing art is so important, because music more than anything brings people together. When I go marches or rallies or protests, a lot of time it's kind of a sterile environment. It needs, we need, the artists on board. We need the artists on the front lines.”

The recommendations from the landmark climate ruling last spring brought forth by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and 20 other youth plaintiffs through an organization called Our Generation are currently under review by Judge Ann Aiken of Oregon. Aiken, who is expected to announce her decision on the ruling publicly in mid-November, will determine whether or not the case will go to trial or an appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

“If we win this lawsuit, it's going to force the federal government of the United States to massively reduce our carbon emissions every single year by regulating industry, by regulating our oil and fossil fuel consumption, and it's going to have a huge impact on the way that the world sees us as well.” Martinez said.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is on the front lines fighting for our future rights to clean air and water. Stay tuned for his Break Free EP in November, and keep up with this young and inspiring artist here.


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

Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti On the Come Up

By: Annie Kane

Rising hip-hop artists Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert were greeted by a crowd so hyped, it seems as if they are already legends.

Lil Uzi Vert.

Lil Uzi Vert.

Cervantes’ Masterpiece was filled to the brim with eager hip-hop heads this week, and fans brought their A-game: brand labels shined up nicely in the front row, from Supreme, to Vans, Nike, Adidas and, of course, Bape. The crowd was there for a bumpin’ lineup: J-Krupt, Tony Neek$, Playboi Carti, and headliner Lil Uzi Vert. (Read more about these artists in our Cervantes’ pre-event coverage here.) And they knew it.

Playboi Carti.

Playboi Carti.

Security guards had to push the barricades against the raging crowd to keep people out of the VIP area… and this was just for the opening DJ of the night. As the warm-up acts wrapped up their sets, the crowd grew anxious, and everyone started chanting “Carti!” over and over again. When Playboi Carti finally emerged from the depths of backstage, I could literally see a wave ripple through the crowd as people from the very back pushed to the front.

Carti’s style is raw; he avoids heavy vocal editing in his work. As such, his live performance barely wavered from how it sounds on his recorded tracks, whether he was transitioning from the traditional MC style of blurting into the mic or straight vibing to his own beats. Carti’s voice oscillates between the lazy-like style coined by Future, to that almost nasal pronunciation Vince Staples has. He kept the energy high as well, which culminated at one point when he literally flew into the crowd.

Not long after Carti’s set, Lil Uzi Vert ran onstage holding his girlfriend Brittany’s hand, both of them adorned in colorful Supreme sunglasses. Uzi’s personality is so strong, not only by way of appearance (fully clad in Vlone accented by black Yeezy 750 Boosts), and his recognizable voice, but most by his energy. If you didn’t know who Lil Uzi Vert was prior to this show, you found out the second he stepped out into the spotlight. His quick lyrics were broken with heavy “Yeah!”s, while sweat trickled down his back, shining from the insane dance moves he jumped into while spitting full 16s. His energy is unlike any other hip-hop artist I’ve seen.

The show ended with Lil Uzi Vert’s bringing out Carti for a joint performance of “Left Right”, the song for which their current tour is named.  A security guard brought out an entire case of water bottles and the two artists proceeded to drench the crowd, with people begging to be soaked. It was wild.

Cervantes’ brought such an infectious hip-hop lineup to Denver this week, which has me curious for their summer show lineup. Make sure to keep up with them here, and catch a show there soon!


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All photos per the author; embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.

Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti Join Forces for Left Right Tour at Cervantes Denver

By: Annie Kane

On May 17th, Denver’s Cervantes Masterpiece will be throwing down with some of hip-hop’s fastest growing artists.

Lil Uzi Vert.

Lil Uzi Vert.

At 21 years old, Philadelphia native Lil Uzi Vert has already collaborated with A$AP Ferg, Rich The Kid, Young Thug, Metro Boomin and Wiz Khalifa, along with receiving support from The Fader, Noisey, XXL, HotNewHipHop, and the late A$AP Yams. The “vert” in his name insinuates “vertical”, and that’s fitting since Lil Uzi Vert has a promising unique talent that is soon to skyrocket him to the top of the charts. He fuses his trap-like quality of rapping with old-school hard rock influences like Marilyn Manson. His first mixtape released in 2015, “Luv is Rage”, lit the fuse and his recent tape released last month, “Lil Uzi vs. The World”, has solidified his path toward the top. Lil Uzi Vert is signed to Generation Now and Atlantic Records.

Playboi Carti.

Playboi Carti.

Without even having a full mixtape out yet, 18-year old Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti is already receiving high appraisal. His song “Broke Boi” has reached over 8 million plays on Soundcloud, making it the song that essentially broke him into the hip-hop scene. Affiliated with Atlanta’s Awful Records, Playboi Carti signed with A$AP Rocky last September and is supposedly working on a song with Frank Ocean, according to close friend Ian Connor. Already praised as a rock star in Europe (check this interesting article), Playboi Carti is on the verge of selling out stadium venues.

Tony Neek$.

Tony Neek$.

These two big names will be introduced by two local Denver rappers, Tony Neek$ and J-Krupt on Tuesday night. Tickets at Cervantes are going fast for this star-studded show, so be sure to grab some here before they’re gone!


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All photos per the author; embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.

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. 



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.


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

Exclusive Premiere: LA R&B Crooner JMSN's New Single "Cruel Intentions"

Christian Berishaj, better known as JMSN (pronounced Jameson), is a Detroit born and LA based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, mixer, and videographer. The R&B crooner, who released his debut album, †Priscilla†, in January 2012, also operates his indie label, White Room Records. The success of his freshman album captured the attention of platinum-selling artist Usher, and even landed JMSN four slots on Kendrick Lamar’s groundbreaking Good Kid, M.A.A.D City album. JMSN has credits on “Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “The Art Of Peer Pressure”, “Sing About Me/Dying Of Thirst”, and “Real”.

LA R&B Artist JMSN.

LA R&B Artist JMSN.

Following the success of Priscilla†, JMSN’s impressive talents have allowed him to collaborate with the likes of The Game, J. Cole, Tyga, Ab-Soul, Kaytranada, Ta-ku, and many others. In 2014, JMSN released his second album, affectionately known as the Blue Album. Its release paved the way for a triumphant world tour across North America, Europe, Australia and China.

Currently, JMSN’s musical evolution continues with his upcoming release It is with White Room Records. In anticipation for the album, JMSN has dropped his first single, which we’re proud to premiere here for you today. Check it out:

Listen to the premiere of JMSN’s newest single, “Cruel Intentions”:

Learn more about JMSN on his Facebook page

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited.

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.



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!



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.



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:


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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:


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