To paraphrase Denver’s current patron saint of hip-hop, Friday night will change the face of the scene forever. Names will emerge; lyrics will be heard; and the next phase will begin. Over the past few months, one collective of artists have smashed the glass ceiling here. That collective is the LIFE Crew.
At the center of the movement is Mane Rok, a silver-tongued artist with a style that channels some of the game’s most respected names. He’s gearing up to release, The Ugly Truth, a collection of tracks that hit on some touchy subjects, the obvious product of both nature and nurture. What isn’t touchy, however, is the aggression of the record itself; confidence is no issue for Mane.
While Mane suggests that he doesn’t listen to as much music these days as he did growing up, a keen ear will pick up traces of Twista and the Immortal Technique on The Ugly Truth. From a production standpoint, the record borrows influence from some of Kanye West’s earlier work, hard jazzy samples that provide a more melodic touch than is evident in today’s hip-hop milieu. The lyrics are indicative of a spitfire; quick, pungent, and as honest as straightforward as the material requires.
Mane is a major proponent of the Denver music scene not just for hip-hop but for artists across the board. Hell yeah’s coming, he emotes. And things are indeed coming up. LIFE Crew (consisting of well-about-town artists The Pirate Signal, Deca, Ichiban and more) has several releases either hitting the airwaves now or just a few months from fruition, and expectations for none of them are less than astronomical. The Ugly Truth sits right in the middle of the fray, a catalyst for what could be a messianic emergence of a burgeoning environment. Like the indie rock and electro scenes before it, it’s not unlikely that now is the time when record labels and the national will begin to take notice of the immense talents that make their home in Denver.
And so we find ourselves on the precipice of R’Evolution, an event that Mane promises will usher in the next generation of the city’s hip-hop movement. It’s a response to the disoriented handful of artists that make up the scene. Many in the Denver Hip Hop scene yell unity all the time, but never bring together different sects of the scene. Mane’s goal is to put these claims to rest, or bring them to life. In addition to himself, he’s corralled Diamond, Boyz, and Spoke In Wordz, both presenting brand new videos, Ace Miyamoto (releasing his latest LP Ronin), and Julox (of UGK Records), all for one transcendent event that plans to change the face of the genre in Denver forever.
As a perpetual optimist and a believer in the promise of this genre in my city, I hope that the lofty goals of Rok’s R’Evolution are met.
UPDATE: Get a taste of Ace Miyamoto’s new release Ronin here: