A jazzy influence | SteamboatToday.com

A jazzy influence

Boulder hip-hop group has mixed-genre sounds

Margaret Hair

Boulder hip-hop group Rogue Sound hangs out backstage at the Fox Theatre in September. The band plays today at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill. Pictured, from left, are Nick Odell (emcee and DJ), Matt Smart (drums and vocals), Otis Lande (bass) and Mingus Fine (guitar and vocals).

— For Boulder hip-hop group Rogue Sound, a background in jazz music has opened a lot of musical doors.

The band’s musicians can jam out on a reggae-influenced song for as long as they want, but they have the restraint to not do that too often. They appreciate a DJ and an emcee as members of the band, the way you would think of a jazz combo’s rhythm section and lead singer. And since 2000, they have built a steady Front Range following with positive lyrics and a dance-party vibe.

Today, the band will play in Steamboat Springs for the first time, with a set at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill. Rogue Sound guitarist Mingus Fine talked with 4 Points about his band’s jazz background, musical influences and uplifting message.

4 POINTS: What made you all want to play in a live hip-hop band?

MINGUS FINE: It was really our love for hip-hop. But we also grew up playing rock and blues and jazz on our instruments, and it was a natural progression to combine the two.

With hip-hop, we can sample and add and really combine all different genres of music. If you want to take a sample from a different song, you might not do it on the keyboard, you might do it with a guitar. With live hip-hop, you can do that.

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We definitely have a big reggae vibe, too. We mix a lot of reggae into our hip-hop and hip-hop into our reggae. And our drummer speaks Spanish, so we have a little Spanish reggae vibe.

4 POINTS: What are you going for when you play a show?

MF: It’s really trying to express a well-thought-out show, with well-rehearsed musicians who are able to just have fun and create a positive-minded party, really. I think that’s mostly what we go for, is trying to raise people up.

Alternative, intelligent hip-hop, it’s modern-day poetry. You can move people with your words. It’s more of a positive thing than a negative thing; unfortunately, some hip-hop has that (negative) face on it.

4 POINTS: What influences your music?

MF: We add jazz in there, because we all grew up playing jazz music.

There are a lot of good groups out there – Cuban hip-hop, and there’s some great German reggae. Really, if it’s either well-rehearsed or positive and is spreading the love vibe, I like it, and I think we’re all kind of like that. We love rock, we love punk, we love funk. With all of us growing up in Boulder, we were all exposed to all the touring bands.

4 POINTS: Does that jazz background add to the live show?

MF: I think definitely, yes. I mean, having the trombone – what hip-hop band has a trombone in it anymore?