It seems that, almost overnight, Colorado Springs developed a hip-hop scene; but in fact it's been here for some time. Local crews Accumen, Idiolectic Conception and F.O.S. have been playing gigs in Denver and Boulder for several years now while only occasionally playing a show at the Underground or at house parties for their strong base of fans and friends in the Springs. While the three bands can be credited with helping each other build the local scene, the recent opening of 32 Bleu and the popularity of its hip-hop shows have meant a new level of hometown exposure for all of them.
Just a week after F.O.S. and Idiolectic Conception's debut at 32 Bleu, the third group in the trio, Accumen, will take the stage Saturday night with Binary Star from Pontiac, Mich.
I spoke with co-member Samir about Accumen, local music and Islam.
Indy: How'd you wind up in Colorado Springs?
Samir: I'm from Belgium. My mom's from there and my stepdad was in the military. Got to the Springs in 1998 and started recording, and performing at the Party Zone and the Colorado Music Hall. We dropped our first CD in 2000 and really started performing all over Colorado.
Indy: You've performed a lot with F.O.S. How'd you hook up with them?
Samir: We were both recording at Illynoise Studios here in town. We were doing the same exact thing -- trying to release CDs and get exposure -- so we just figured we should get together.
Indy: How do you and Ahmad -- the other half of Accumen and your brother-in-law -- work together?
Samir: We just write separately and then come together and share ideas. It usually just blends, and that's the good thing about our chemistry -- no matter what he comes with and what I come with, it just blends. Then we go into the studio and make beats.
Indy: Do you have a producer?
Samir: No, we do all our own production.
Indy: When is your new album coming out?
Samir: We're shooting for mid-January.
Indy: Tell me about it.
Samir: Our new stuff has a lot of reggae and jazz. It's like we actually found our direction and where we're trying to go. On the first album we were just experimenting and trying to find out what we wanted to do. But the new album really defines what we're about. And I'm really happy with the way it sounds. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Bob Marley and R&B like Erika Badhu. I try not to listen to too much straight hip-hop because I feel that if you listen to too much of what you're doing, it'll sound too similar. You don't want to be like anyone who's out there. You just want to come straight from yourself.
Indy: When did you convert to Islam?
Samir: When I grew up in Belgium, I had a lot of Arab friends so I was already in that circle. But when we moved to Colorado Springs I had just turned 18 and graduated from high school and I was reading a lot of things and started talking to my brother about it. Then we started going to the mosque for a couple of weeks and I just decided to convert.
Indy: What's changed for you?
Samir: I'm still in the world and all that, but I'm more disciplined in terms of having a purpose.
Indy: Thoughts on 9/11?
Samir: I think the media portrayed Islam as a terrorist religion too generally. I think there are terrorists of every religion and every background.
Indy: Local music scene?
Samir: Oh man, it's grown. At first there was no venue to play and when we did, no one would show up. I'm really happy with the turnout. I'm not all the way comfortable with all the people we play with. We try to watch out for content, not to cuss or make sexual references because there's kids and older people at our shows. I try to talk to Rob (Black Pegasus) from F.O.S. about his content, but when he gets on stage! ...
Indy: What's next?
Samir: We'll see. Probably hit the road in the spring. When we drop this album, I think it's gonna open a lot of doors.
-- Noel Black