One of Three Winter Tour Dates in Grand Junction
This month hip-hop virtuoso Ryan Wisler, revered simply by his artistic alias Kno, released what would be critiqued as a self-produced masterpiece reaching far outside his expanding sonic comfort zone. With the assistance of hand selected vocalist Zoe Wick, Anna Wise and Dane Ferguson, the 10-track To Dust album is the culmination of Kno’s efforts to be a boundary-pushing member of a genre often pigeonholed by its stereotypes. Before this recent formation of this elite side project dubbed Built to Fade, Kno’s music narrative goes deep into late 90s Southern hip-hop at its peak.
Thirteen years ago emcee Willis Polk met Wisler in an Atlanta club during an event hosted by the now iconic Dungeon Family. In the Georgia rap music chronology, this was right around the time that affiliated groups Outkast and Goodie Mob were breaking out of the South. The music world would soon see Dungeon Family representatives Andre 3000 and Cee Lo Green become household names, but the skilled cast surrounding these A-list rappers were also making moves.
A year after that chance encounter, Polk would become Deacon the Villain, and the two would form the group CunninLynguist. Their debut album Will Rap For Food received acclaim for its astute rhymes and production, finding a balance between facets of old school rap and progressive undertones ahead of their time. Most importantly, tackling socio-political and life issues in creative ways would be a mainstay of the groups audible identity. This stark contrast to the often mindless radio waves that defined the Noughties set them apart, but also kept them stuck in the rap purgatory we now call the underground.
Their sophomore attempt would only stack their reputation higher, with collaborations from influential Brooklyn rapper Masta Ace and producer RJD2. A third album finally received a nod from Cee Lo Green, and the fourth saw lyricist Devin the Dude and Phonte making feature appearances. If those early co-signs aren’t enough for you, fast forward a decade, one more album and five mix-tapes, and you find the now trio working with heavyweight rappers like Freddie Gibbs and Big K.R.I.T. on their latest project Oneirology. Having braved the questionable era of Southern club rap, CunninLynguists have kept the pillars of conscious lyrical content and groundbreaking production at the forefront of their game. This is rap music for people that claim they don’t like rap music for all the obvious reasons.
Tour dates have been a rare commodity for fans of the trio, but Grand Junction will be gifted with one of three dates on their calendar this winter. Catch them rocking the mic on stage at the Mesa Theater and Club this Saturday.
CunninLynguists, Sat., Nov. 23, Mesa Theater, 7 p.m., $20, mesatheater.com