By Marissa Isgreen
Northern Colorado Correspondent
FORT COLLINS—(February 4, 2014) Almost a decade ago, a group of junior high boys with a love for hip hop created a band: Def. Rhymes. Divine. Now, nine years later, the band’s name remains the same, but the group has grown to nine rappers and two producers.
“There’s no way we knew it would last so long,” rapper Sam Mouton said. “But we do it for the love of chillin’ in a basement, recording.”
Band members hail from both Fort Collins and Boulder, which makes practicing a challenge. Employing technology to their advantage the band uses FaceTime to hold meetings. Practices include going over everyone’s assigned parts, creating set lists and making everything flow professionally.
The Fort Collins band draws inspiration from other hip hop artists including Nas, The Wu-Tang Clan and Grieves. Mouton explained that because of the number of artists in Def. Rhymes. Divine, their content is wide and diverse. They rap about anything from partying and love to the state of hip hop and current political issues.
“It’s really just whatever comes to mind,” rapper Jesse Neth explained.
“We have an obnoxious repertoire of music,” Mouton said.
With 11 members, the band has numerous combinations for producing group, solo and collaborative projects all under the name Def. Rhymes. Divine. According to the band, they write and record so much material that they can produce a new album every six weeks.
Booking shows is a “really unorthodox process,” Neth said. Members contact people they know to play shows. Then, once they are known within the community, venues call them back to open for larger artists. The band has opened for well-known rap artist Grieves twice, performing for a sold-out audience both times.
Having performed a number of times now, rapper Callahan Montoya said their nerves don’t act up anymore. “We’re all confident in our on-stage ability and the abilities of each other,” rapper Mike Olson agreed. According to the band, the bigger problem is getting to shows on time.
Laughing, Neth, Montoya, Olson and Mouton recounted one performance that they didn’t make it to in the nick of time. When the band arrived at the venue, the doorman wouldn’t let them into the back and sent them up front. They received the same response from the front doorman and were sent back again. When they finally were allowed in and made it on stage, the band was officially late. Many bands have pre-show rituals. For Def. Rhymes. Divine, their only ritual is the chaos. “We do a lot of weird stuff before shows, but none of it is routine,” Mouton said.
As well as promoting through Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and their personal website, the band’s marketing strategy is to hand out their albums for free.
“We have to create a following before we sell anything for money,” Olson explained.
Starting out, “there were always people hating,” Montoya said. “And we weren’t always good,” Olson added. But the band feels that in the nine years they have been together, they’ve developed a unique flavor. The band attributes their longevity and few internal disputes to the fact that they were all friends prior to the band’s formation. “We’re a D.R. Democracy (Def. Rhymes. Democracy.),” Olson said. “There’s no one leader.”
According to band members, they aren’t really known outside the Fort Collins area although that is one of their next goals. The band has played in local venues such as the Aggie, Hodi’s Half Note and the Lory Student Center as well as a show in Salt Lake City. “We have some die- hard fans,” Mouton said, but they would like to acquire more, in addition to recording and performing outside of Colorado and eventually starting their own record label.
“It’s all about the music,” Neth said, and laughing, added, “And the money.”