DENVER — Two Colorado natives are getting their big breaks in the hip hop industry after one record label's search for talent brought them to the Mile High City.
Unlike New York or Atlanta, Colorado isn't necessarily known to have a huge presence in hip hop music. Larry Nicholson, better known as CEO Larry, is a pioneer producer for VH1's Love & Hip Hop. Now, he is the CEO of Record Breakers USA.
"We went to Chicago, we went to New York, when we went looking for that next big record," CEO Larry said.
In August, his search for new talent brought him to Denver.
"I didn't know we had rappers and singers, and I didn't even know there was talent here," he said.
CEO Larry knew to come to Denver thanks to Josh Jackson, criminal justice chair with the Rocky Mountain NAACP.
"It has been a big deal for me to try to bring attention because I've always felt that Denver has one of the best music scenes I've ever seen," Jackson said. "Such a diverse music scene, such great talent here."
During Record Breakers' search, they found many talented people. Park Hill native YG Kase is one of the artists that stood out.
"Music is my therapy really. When I get into the booth, I'm allowed to speak how I want to speak," he said. "It's really my therapy — to write down something. I'm writing my feelings. And when I rap, it's my passion."
Another standout artist was T Woods. Woods grew up in Aurora, and is a Cherry Creek High School alum. He started his career in music about six years ago.
"Feel good music. Not too serious. Just party vibes, party vibes," said Woods as he described his style of music.
He said he likes to make music you want to dance to.
CEO Larry was impressed with the music and people he saw here in Colorado. He said artists in Denver were better than many he saw in New York.
At the Record Breakers event in August, artists were able to perform one song, which was put up against another song and judged.
"I did one song and that song changed my life," Woods said.
"He gave us all a chance to do one song, your record, your hit," Kase added.
CEO Larry said they judge who has the best song and best catalog.
"You know, we will pursue that artist and help them pursue their industry dreams," CEO Larry said.
What the artists didn't know was what they were competing for. CEO Larry knew he couldn't let either of these Colorado artists walk away empty-handed.
T Woods and YG Kase both got record deals with Jim Jones' Vamp Life Records, thanks in part to a little help from Record Breakers USA.
"And that's what really kind of puts everything into like, 'Wow, this is this is big,'" Woods said.
"My mom believed, but back then she was telling me to get a job, so it's beautiful. Now this is my job," Kase said.
Now that they are signed artists, perhaps we'll see more hip hop artists make it out of Colorado. In fact, CEO Larry, along with Josh Jackson, has plans to bring Record Breakers USA to Denver as a nonprofit.
"We'd like to use those platforms alongside the music platforms and develop classes that will be based out of GBL studios," Jackson said. "There's facilities here for people to come and dance and practice. There's recording facilities here as well. What would be great for us is that it will give us a direct link into the community."