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If you’re even casually acquainted with local hip-hop, TEQNiK G, aka Joe Davis, is a name with which you should be familiar. The emcee, hailing from Widefield, has been a fixture of Colorado Springs’ musical landscape for years, a driven and prolific artist who has been putting out consistently strong material since his 2014 EP The Beginning. After just five short years, Davis is set to unveil his sixth release, the full-length LP Embedded, which the emcee considers his best work yet.
Much as the last TEQNiK G record, 2018’s Apparation in the Shadows, was born out of Davis’ collaborations with Michigan-based producer AATMA, his latest effort benefits from the distinct aural stamp of its producer, the award-winning DJ Prominent. Davis had been keen to work with Prominent for several years, and the two artists’ schedules finally converged.
“The album is entirely produced by DJ Prominent, who is considered legendary in the DJ and turntablism world, as well as the production game,” says Davis. “Since I was a young kid growing up in Widefield, I’d heard about DJ Prominent.”
Taking care to keep the project as organic as possible — “in true hip-hop style,” as Davis says — the pair met in person to collaborate on the album’s music, with Prominent often crafting beats live in Davis’ studio. Davis approached the writing process on Embedded with that “timeless” feeling in mind, attempting to craft an album that would both stand the test of time and appeal to listeners regardless of their musical backgrounds.
“I designed the album to have a cinematic feel to it, in the sense that it really feels like a type of soundtrack that takes you through different emotions and stages during the album,” explains Davis.
The soundtrack comparison is an apt one. DJ Prominent’s production — often evoking classic ‘70s soul in a bold, panoramic presentation — is a wildly effective foil for Davis’ fiery vocal delivery and often inspired wordplay. Each song is filled with colorful, sonically rich details to reward repeated listens, from the funky stabs of vibraphones and keys on “Unfamiliar Tunes” to the dreamy, woozy strings on “Destined for Greatness” and “Strugglin Artists.” The timpani accents on the moody “Click Clack,” meanwhile, suggest a particularly cinematic take on G-Funk.
The album also benefits from appearances by some other familiar faces, with Ibe Hustles, Che Bong, eLiMenCe, and Black Pegasus contributing features. The final LP was mixed and mastered by Texas-based engineer Fezzy Harper, who has earned acclaim for his work on releases by Evolve, Three Headed Dragon and Bishop Bagwell, among others.
Especially in a world dominated by streaming media, it’s not a guarantee that artists approach the LP as a cohesive, contained artistic statement. (For that matter, I’ve heard of artists tailoring their running orders to whatever tracks accumulate the most attention as singles.) Davis’ approach to the craft, however, is refreshingly old-school. All of his LPs to this point have benefited from a strong sense of thematic unity, composed with the ebbs and flows of a full album clearly in mind. Embedded, unsurprisingly, is no exception:
“There’s a lot of feeling on this album,” says Davis, as he describes how seriously he took his lyrics and the meticulous process of sequencing the LP. “I think about the songs and how I want them to affect people and teach people. I want them to go through an experience while listening to my music, especially when listening to [a full-length album].”
Of course, TEQNiK G is known for both his albums and his live shows, so it’s natural that equal effort was put into planning the upcoming release show for Embedded, which takes place at the Black Sheep on Saturday, Nov. 16. Joining Davis and DJ Prominent are Stoney Bertz, Bishop Bagwell, eLiMenCe, Che Bong, TMC, Ibe Hustles and Evolve. A full house, and sure to be a good time. After all, as Davis himself says, he doesn’t just throw album release shows, he throws release parties.
TEQNiK G is a hip-hop artist and producer from Widefield, Colorado. He’s been making music since his youth, but starting taking it seriously in 2014, when he became active in the 719 Hip Hop community. Since deciding to go public with his talents, he has performed at countless live shows, released five projects, on vinyl record, cassette tape, compact disc and digital formats; provided production and engineering for other artists; and has recently begun directing and filming music videos.
Essential Saturday night listening: After a long week at work, I like to listen to music that will inspire me to make my own music. I mainly listen to hip-hop, but I listen to a lot of different subgenres. This past Saturday, I listened to Meyhem Lauren, Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn and Tha God Fahim.
Essential Sunday morning listening: After unwinding on Saturday night by listening to dope new underground hip-hop and making beats, I like to write new music and freestyle. I’ll listen to beats that I’ve made, as well as some from my favorite producers. MF Doom is always easy to write to, as well as Madlib and DJ Prominent.
First record I bought with my own money: Back when I was probably about 7 or 8 years old, my brother convinced me to order CDs through one of those mail-in “13 CDs for a penny” companies. ... I don’t remember all of the albums I bought, but I know I got Dr Dre, The Chronic; Too $hort, Get in Where You Fit In, Das EFX, Straight Up Sewaside; Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle; Eazy E, Eazy-Duz-It; and KRS-One, Return of the Boom Bap.
“Wish I’d written that” song: “Revelations” by Masta Ace from 2004’s A Long Hot Summer. It’s basically about the struggle of putting out music to the world. As artists, we tend to feel underappreciated. We work extremely hard doing what we do, and we want to be valued. “Rap’s like trying to take a piss in the wind, I’m just glad to know some of y’all were listening in.”
“Wish I could unhear that” song: “Wanna Be a Baller” by Lil’ Troy because he’s a snitch, he’s fake, and I have no respect for him and all the nonsense he tried with Scarface.
My latest online discovery: Although this discovery happened nearly two years ago, Tha God Fahim. From what I know, he’s been consistently releasing new projects since 2015. He talks about a wide variety of subjects in his rhymes, from selling drugs to religion and everything in between.
Artist more people should know about: Aside from myself, I would have to suggest other artists who are creating great hip-hop music in Colorado right now. Such as eLiMenCe, Stoney Bertz, Che Bong, Tone ET, TMC, Ibe Hustles, Milogic, Something for Now, Palmleafskylines, and the list just goes on and on. Colorado is slept on when it comes to hip-hop. We have an abundance of talent that truly needs to be heard.
Fans of local hip-hop will not have to wait nearly as long for what will be a definite highlight of the young year.
When we checked in with emcee Teqnik G in February 2017, he was releasing a new LP, Not Just Entertainment. Exactly one year to the day, he’s back with a brand new album, Apparition in the Shadows, which is being released Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Black Sheep.
The year has been a busy one for the rapper, one that found him, aside from working on the new LP, reissuing his back catalog — most notably in the handsome form of a limited-edition gold cassette tape, combining his previous three albums, dubbed Trillogy — as well as opening for artists such as Rakim, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Warren G and Jedi Mind Tricks’ Jus Allah.
“Other than that, I had another son this year,” added the emcee, when I asked him what he’d been up to. Nothing like keeping a full schedule.
The new record was a collaboration between Teqnik G and Michigan-based producer AATMA, whom the emcee met online following the release of Not Just Entertainment.
“It was originally supposed to be a short album, like an EP,” explains the emcee, who also enlisted the talents of local deejay Lord Damage. “But personal issues kept the album from happening. My son was born, and his mom and I split up. [But] AATMA just kept sending me beats, and that’s when I came up with the name Apparition in the Shadows. We’re kind of the unexpected image of what you might think or expect. That’s the ‘apparition,’ and [we’re] ‘in the shadows’ because we’re underground. Just waiting to be discovered, basically.”
For the Weed Pimps-hosted album release show, he’ll be performing Apparition in the Shadows in its entirety, joined by Evolve, whom Teqnik G describes as “an underground hip-hop legend,” Denver’s TMC and The FAMM, and locals Stoney Bertz, D-Stylz, ColorBlind, Hiatus and Milogic.
Some artists take time to develop the creativity and worldview that facilitates their art, while others seem to have a preternatural disposition for their musical endeavors. The latter case can certainly be argued for local emcee Joe Davis, better known as Teqnik G.
Davis, who is preparing to unveil his new LP, Not Just Entertainment, was introduced to hip-hop by his brother at a young age and instantly fell in love with it, writing his first rhyme in elementary school before developing his lyrical flow by writing, producing and recording his own songs in high school.
"What stands out most to me about a song is the lyrics," says Davis. "I love the way a lyricist can manipulate and rhyme words in such unique patterns, while telling a story and speaking about subject matters other genres don't."
While Davis was immediately enamored of the whole of hip-hop culture, citing the emcee, the DJ, graffiti, the B-Boy and knowledge as the genre's elements of voice, music, art, dance and consciousness, respectively, his burgeoning career suffered a derailment.
"Instead of staying focused on the music, I decided to make bad choices, which ended up leading me to prison," Davis says. "However, struggle and life experiences, along with plenty of time, can really help the creative mind."
Davis used the setback to improve his skills and, upon his release, set about building a career in hip-hop. While he acknowledges it took some time, he now enjoys a bounty of local support, has consistently performed live for roughly half a decade, and is now set to celebrate the release of his third album.
The CD release show, which will take place Feb. 3 at the Black Sheep, will find Teqnik G joined by an impressive cadre of local hip-hop talent, including D-Stylz, Hiatus, Rozin Barz, TMC, Reflecshaun, Evolve and Stoney Bertz. (Bertz, incidentally, will have a busy day, as she's also performing at the "Rewind to 99" benefit show at Sunshine Studios earlier in the day, where all proceeds go toward helping the local homeless community.)
"I had known for a while that it was time for a new album, but life was getting in the way of creating music, on several levels," explains Davis.
Eventually, however, Davis set to work culling the extensive back catalog of beats he'd produced, giving himself a strict deadline to complete the writing and production. His goal was to create a "hardcore hip-hop album from front to back," both an attempt to honor the sound and spirit of the raw hip-hop of the '90s and introduce listeners to the world as Teqnik G knows and sees it. Davis says listeners can expect accounts of his life as an emcee, thoughts on the country's political and social systems, some good old-fashioned partying and enjoying life, and dispatches from life on the streets. Above all, he hopes the album offers an opportunity to look back on the hallmarks of classic hip-hop from a new perspective with a modern message.
"Hip-hop has gone through many changes since its creation — a lot of fans recognize the 'golden era' of hip-hop to be the '90s, and I would tend to agree," says Davis. "It was a time when beats and lyrics were raw, people told you how they felt. I'm out to keep that alive, to keep the music I love alive."
Davis is optimistic about the local hip-hop scene's potential for growth, and hopes that his own music can serve as a source of inspiration for others.
"I want people to see that life is filled with choices, and you can change your direction in life through those choices," reflects Davis. "I produced all but one of the beats on Not Just Entertainment," recorded all the vocals, mixed and mastered the album, designed and made the artwork, and organized the featured artists and DJ for the project. Now I'm throwing an album release party to celebrate. I'm proof that you can basically do everything on your own."