Keezy is a relatively new Santa Fe transplant and recently released his debut EP, Speak in Spells. The album is an ode to veganism, sustainability and riding bikes. Each track focuses on hard-hitting realities that force the listener to re-evaluate issues we may perceive as commonplace. Using commercial-sounding beats throughout the album is a stroke of genius; it lures listeners in and, before they know it, political statements are made.
“Right now, a man in North Carolina wearing dark blue coveralls and steel-toed boots is kicking the shit out of a baby pig/If you don’t know, now you know,” Keezy informs us on “Animalicious,” a song that displays the ugly truth of factory farming. With this kind of blunt honesty, Keezy paints a picture that most of us don’t want to see, but of which we ought to be aware.
Bearing in mind a few exceptions, Santa Fe doesn’t have a wealth of hip-hop talent. That’s not to say the people doing it are without merit, but, rather, they’re few and far between, and are rarely afforded the opportunity to perform. We see touring hip-hop acts from time to time, but it seems like the locals have a harder time of it. While there are plenty of DJs spinning hip-hop, local live performances are sporadic at best.
Take 22 Spinx, for example. He is a talented and socially conscious artist who chooses to rap positively and add varying styles to his sound, yet he almost never performs.
Local emcee and producer Cas Uno is about to put out the follow-up to his previous album Last of the Tusken Raiders, and he recently played at The Pub & Grill at Santa Fe Brewing Company—but as the opener for the California group Gift of Gab. Yes, these touring acts are important, and I love a national act as much as the next guy. However, charity—or bookings, as it were—should begin at home.
Is it a lack of interest within the scene? I want to say no because I talk to so many people who love hip-hop and want to see it performed. Is it apathy on the part of the artists? I don’t think that’s the case because having spoken with or interviewed a number of emcees in Santa Fe, I find they are among the hardest-working musicians around.
My theory is that Santa Fe has become so musically entrenched in Americana, country and bar blues that show-goers are almost afraid to operate outside these genres. Look, I’m a huge Americana fan and I’m endlessly impressed by the strength within that particular genre—but there are other styles out there, for Christ’s sake.
Any time I’ve seen a local get on a stage and rhyme, I’ve been blown away. In other words: The talent is there, it just needs a chance.
Shows that touch on several genres are exciting, not only for the variety but for the different kinds of energy that each style provides. In order for the scene to unify, cross-genre promotion should become a major consideration. In addition to opening up the scene, people might get to hear things they otherwise would not. Imagine that.
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