By Simone Jane
As hip hop legends toy with insignificance and established stars fight to maintain ground, we’re still on the lookout for that latest artist to wow us, because no matter how good things may seem, we’re always looking for what is next in this ADHD world. Just remember, most people start from the ground up, and fight their way higher through hard work, inspiration, motivation, and never giving in: Meet Intelligent Design.
This Denver group met in high school through a mutual friend. Jaz had a studio, Royal needed a place to practice, and they both rapped. “The universe brings people together for a reason,” Royal insisted. Neither played an instrument, but both had an intense love for music and an extreme drive to put their thoughts and feelings to paper, rhythm and rhyme to a beat and a motivation to keep improving. “I have always been musically inclined,” Jaz voiced. “My dad was a musician and exposed me to many different genres of music, and I felt like this was the right path creatively for me.” Upon meeting, these young men, now in their early 20’s, have not stopped practicing, cultivating, and refining their talent not only on their own, but pushing each other to their limits. Jaz revealed, “There have been a couple of times that I had felt like Royal mopped me up off of the floor in the studio and I needed to come back harder. It was always a friendly competition though, it makes us both better in the long run.”
“I always searched for something worth dying for
Until I found something worth staying alive for
Music, it’s more than just a word…”
The hip hop scene in Denver, in Intelligent Design’s perception is one of divisiveness. Jaz and Royal see some groups, themselves included working together, but some seem intent on staying separate. It can be very frustrating. Whether it be due to jealousy or elitism ID are not sure but they both wish if the scene would work mutually a lot more could get accomplished. Jaz explained, “A lot of these groups , or solo acts want to be the ones to put Denver on the map, they don’t care that in order for there to be a hip hop collective…I mean there is a reason the California and New York hip hop community are so respected, it is because they respect each other.” It is a goal ID is continuing to work towards, an end to the schism within the city.
Intelligent Design’s creative process and inspirations are drawn from the frustrations in the world around them, and what they deal with in their personal lives. “I take from whatever is going on around me,” Royal pointed out. “Whatever is affecting me personally, something I see, and it comes from all over the place.” Jaz interjects, “I will freestyle whatever comes to my head over and over, until I remember it, or until I have a chance to type it into my phone.”
Whatever takes to get that thought “on paper.”
“I ain’t ghetto or gully don’t claim to be either,
just a brotha who loves recording audio ether”
The motivations and influences that Royal and Jaz pull from are a mixture of their own and outside sources. This is both refreshing and moving to see from such a young act. Royal’s motivation he explained, “is taking what he feels…that hunger in my gut and I use it and embrace it to the fullest. My influences are Vinnie Paz, Bill Withers, and GURU of Gangstarr, music you can really feel. It inspires me to do my own thing, making my own music and expressing myself.” Jaz adds, “I draw from my influences for my drive, I turn to One Be Lo, and Crooked I, and I say to myself; I can be one of them.
When asked if they have experienced bigotry, discrimination or racism in anyway whether individually or as a group, Jaz responded that unfortunately he has, on both sides, black and white. Royal has gratefully not had the experience. As a group, Intelligent Design to my surprise has experienced none, and Royal has a very optimistic and intelligent response as to why, “When we go out there and people hear what we have to say and see how much passion and dedication we have to what we do, they look beyond it. They see it doesn’t really matter.”
Goals are something Intelligent Design sets and goes after with mind, body and soul. They are go getter’s when it comes to promoting and marketing their own live shows , as many as they can get, through social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and of course word of mouth with Jaz claims, “Is no joke.” ID’s first and foremost goal is to release and record a record that they have been in preparation for a little over a year. Jaz and Royal feel it showcases their best work to date. “We have poured our hearts into this project.” Jaz promised. “Once we polish up this jewel and drop it on people, it will show them our views on hip hop and what hip hop should be and not what it has become.” The record will be entitled, “Preserve the Culture,” produced by C-Lance who also manages the back tracks for their live shows. ID hopes to have it released no later than January of 2017.
One of the things that impressed me the most about Intelligent Design is their never ending energy and motivation to keep pushing forward. They do have outside influences, but focus more on each other and from within themselves to propel forward with hard work, creativity, inventiveness, insight and vision. They are focused on the short term because the long term right now is as Jaz puts it, “The end of the road, and we want to focus on what is in front of us now.”
“The culture of hip hop is lost, the sense of it, what it sounds like, what is looks like, and my main goal, is to preserve this culture so the younger generation knows it,” Royal vowed.
The 420 Mix
Denver has changed quite a bit in the eyes of Intelligent Design since marijuana became legal. Both Royal and Jaz partake but more for relaxation and sleeping purposes than to get a recreational high. Neither like the influx of “outsiders” as they describe the people who started to move to Denver after the law passed and to them these individuals are not part of the community. They certainly do not mind the ones needing it for medicinal purposes on the legit end. Coincidentally Jaz works for Craft Concentrates, a cannabis growing company that extracts THC from the marijuana to make CBD infused products. They hope that as it becomes more common things will level out, and as other states make it legal it will take the heat off of Colorado.