Hip-hop is continually growing into one of the biggest genres in music right now, with break out stars coming from all over the country. From New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago, big cities are the mecca for creating stars in hip-hop. Whether that’s because of the access to networking within those cities, or the actual cultures of those cities themselves, it’s a lot more realistic to be successful in hip-hop if you make it to one of those places. But why is that?  How come Denver isn’t flooding the industry with talent like Chicago and Los Angeles?

Well, part of it might be that we just haven’t had our time to shine yet. While the state may have lacked a national presence in the hip-hop scene, Colorado is no stranger to creating stars in other genres of music. Just take a look at Pretty Lights, The Fray, DeVotchka and The Lumineers for a peek into the wonderful melting pot that encompasses Colorado music. But who’s the example for the hip-hop industry?

Well, now we finally may have one. Trev Rich is a locally known hip-hop artist who has consistently been putting out work for the past few years. This year, Denver’s hip-hop community may have received its first leader when Rich signed a huge major label deal with Cash Money Records, one of the most well-known labels in hip-hop. They flew him out to Miami to get the paperwork done and begin work on his first release with their label right away. Things moved fast the past year as Rich was able to release his debut project with the label on December 19, 2016. Upon the release of  To Make a Long Story Short, Denver really seemed to jump behind the rising star’s success story, including former Nuggets player Chauncey Billups and Mayor Michael B Hancock, all of whom took the time to congratulate Rich on the release of his project and the excitement he is creating within the city. The project even made it onto the top 100 charts on iTunes, solidifying Rich’s name with the legends he had admired growing up. 

“Just judging it based off of history, for instance when Nelly had did what he did for St.Louis, you saw a whole lot of different things start going on in St.Louis. He brought his whole team on, and then you saw the J-kwons and the other artists start to emerge from St.Louis. So I think it definitely will open up more doors. And it’s just great that it’s somebody that everyone in the city knows. Someone who’s authentic and really from Denver, he’s someone who everyone grew up with and we all know, and we can resonate and recognize he’s doing stuff on a major scale.”  – Hammer from T.A.U, speaking on the impact of the Trev Rich signing.

With news like this finally emerging from the city and the announcement of four brand new venues to the Denver Area in 2017, it’s clear that the Denver music scene is only going to get bigger in the upcoming year. That might be exactly what CO.Rllia Records, a locally owned record label, was thinking when they announced on December 28, 2016, they are looking to sign driven and talented hip-hop and r&b artists from the Denver area. It’s another testament to the immense amount of opportunities currently being created in the Colorado hip-hop vault. There are more labels looking at hip-hop talent than ever before, look at Fogo Management and Co.Rilla Records, and it seems like the city of Denver is buzzing with the talent to match that demand.

In order to get a better feel for what the people in the city were thinking, we spoke with a few local hip-hop artists who have cited Rich as a huge inspiration to make it to the next level. Tony Neek$ is an up-and-coming rapper in the Denver area who has been making a considerable amount of buzz in the city and has even received placement on some national hip-hop blogs.

When we asked about the impact of Rich getting signed had on him personally, Neek$ responded by saying, “Trev signing to Cash Money just overall inspired the city and brought fuel to my fire. It definitely gave me a push to better myself and perfect my craft, I was beyond excited for him; it’s great to see someone from Denver come up. Denver will be the next powerhouse while the nation sleeps on the movement, Denver’s hip-hop scene is on the rise!”

Talent Among Us is a creative duo consisting of rappers Champ and Hammer, who have also been putting in some work around the Denver hip-hop scene. When we asked about what they think made the Denver hip-hop scene unique, Champ said, “I think the whole uniqueness about it is that it’s kind of unknown. We’ve heard from Cali, we’ve heard from the south, we’ve heard from the east coast. But you really haven’t heard something from right in the middle of the map. So, one part of it is that it’s an unknown sound, you can’t place a label on it and say that it sounds like this or that. I don’t really think anyone can say that they sound like Denver at this moment, and that’s what makes it really unique.”

It’s clear that the direction of Colorado hip-hop is changing, and no longer are we being overlooked as a middle of the country state. Our own unique sound is beginning to take hold and the networking opportunities are beginning to take form. Labels are fishing for talent, artists are working to impress, and more venues than ever are catering to the hip-hop sound.

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