Hip-hop is everywhere, but not everyone is listening. For many, walking through that door for the first time into a new genre can be intimidating. Consider Yo, Flaco! a password to enter a new world if you've never been there.
They combine a big-band jazz sound with the rhymes of two emcees for a sound that keeps things interesting in a way that a straight-up hip-hop show can't always accomplish.
"We've been the first hip-hop group to play some of these rooms," emcee Neil McIntyre said. "Our sound opens doors for us. We probably couldn't play The Tugboat if we didn't have a blend of (genres).
"We're a different beast than just deejays and emcees. Unless you've heard the songs before, those shows have a hard time holding the crowd."
Yo, Flaco! is down to two emcees from the three who recorded on their last album, leaving McIntyre and Nate "Microphone Jones" Graham. (In all, 13 other musicians have come and gone from Yo, Flaco! The group currently has eight members.)
When McIntyre joined Yo, Flaco! a few years ago, the group was still a traditional jazz band. McIntyre was host to a local hip-hop night at The Soiled Dove in Denver when the band approached him.
"They said they were interested in adding some rhyming to the group," McIntyre said. "I'd never heard of them, but when I went and saw the band, I was impressed." The first time McIntyre ever played with Yo, Flaco! was in Steamboat Springs at a bar called Murphy's, which was in the space that now holds Sabre's Comedy Den. The owner of Murphy's opened for the group on a Saturday afternoon, and they sat in the empty bar and wrote songs.
In 2004, Yo, Flaco! has been named one of the top "Bands to Watch" by Jambase.com as one of the "Best Unsigned Bands in the Country."
Although the band members have played together for seven years, they haven't taken a record deal. Their recent album, "The Skinny," was put out by the band with its money.
"At this point, we've gotten offers, but with eight guys, the money ends up spreading so thin it isn't even enough so everyone can go on the road," McIntyre said. "
Instead, they keep their day jobs as bartenders and painters to pay the bills and fund the band.
"We're just trying to make money so we can do what we love," he said. "But the reality of life is if we didn't have jobs, if we signed a record deal, we'd be working for somebody else. I feel confident with where we're at, doing something on our own."