Denver’s Prime Element, formerly 3 the Hardway, headlines a free hip-hop show tonight at the Ghost Ranch Saloon. Music starts at 10 p.m. with the One-Eyed Kings followed by Mane Rok featuring Deejay Tense.

Courtesy photo

Denver’s Prime Element, formerly 3 the Hardway, headlines a free hip-hop show tonight at the Ghost Ranch Saloon. Music starts at 10 p.m. with the One-Eyed Kings followed by Mane Rok featuring Deejay Tense.

Hip-hop acts to play free show at Ghost Ranch Saloon


Past Event

Prime Elements, Mane Rok and One-Eyed Kings show

  • Friday, June 17, 2011, 8 p.m.
  • Ghost Ranch, 56 7th Street, Steamboat, CO
  • 21+ / Free


Audio clip

"A-Game" by Mane Rok

— David Romero was quiet and shy as a high school student in Denver. He was a loner, and he spent a lot of his time writing poetry.

But when he first took to the stage and started rapping, a new world opened up.

“When I first started doing shows, family members were surprised that I’d be able to get up on stage,” he said. “I would say hip-hop has opened me up and has created a new person that I like. I can talk to people, relate to people.”

Now one-third of Denver hip-hop outfit Prime Element, Romero is still using rhymes to relate to people about the world he knows. He uses hip-hop to tell his story — and it’s a good story.

“It’s a success story,” he said. “My parents didn’t have much growing up, but anything we’ve gained we’ve worked for. And that’s our motto today.”

Romero, also known as A.V.I.U.S. — pronounced “obvious” — joined forces with producer Carlos Ayala, a.k.a. Es Nine, and turntablist Francisco Chacon, a.k.a Cysko Rokwel, three years ago through mutual friends on the Front Range.

The trio will headline the Ghost Ranch Saloon during a free night of hip-hop Friday night. Music begins at 10 p.m. with One-Eyed Kings, followed by Denver emcee Mane Rok featuring Deejay Tense.

A new Element

Prime Element has played the Ghost Ranch several times already under the name 3 the Hardway. But a new record contract with Kamikazi Airlines Records, a new manager and a new album release has given birth to a new direction for the band.

Their manager, Andrew Lindsley, a Steamboat resident, moved to town four years ago with the specific mission of bringing hip-hop here.

He said the skiing and snowboarding culture breeds strong support for hip-hop bands like Prime Element.

Just over a year ago, he asked Prime Element, under their former name, if he could manage them. And within six months he signed them to Kamikazi Airlines.

“I saw them open for Sweatshop Union and I thought, ‘This is something people need to hear,” he said.

The band’s live DJ, Chacon, said Prime Element doesn’t conform to any current hip-hop trends.

“There seems to be a lot of people following, trying to sound like other rappers or sound like other producers,” Chacon said. “It’s a very interesting time right now in hip-hop. Everyone’s trying to sound like Kanye West.”

But not Prime Element. They stick with the traditional “boom-bap” sound of Gangstarr, Dilated Peoples and C.L. Smooth.

Chacon said each of the group’s members has an individual style, including himself. As a DJ who specializes in battle competitions, he doesn’t make his music on a laptop.

“I keep it traditional with the hands on the vinyl,” Chacon said. “That’s where it all started with hip-hop.”

Through Kamikazi Airlines, they plan to re-release their 2009 LP “Set In Stone” on Sunday. The album will be available for digital download and hard copies can be pre-ordered.

At the same time, A.V.I.U.S. will release his solo album, “For Better or Worse,” which is his opportunity to continue telling his story of a hardworking emcee and family man.

Romero is the father of two children, and when he’s not recording, writing, touring or working at his 9-to-5 job, he’s coaching youth baseball teams.

He knows it’s not a glamorous life, but it’s the life he knows, and that’s what he’ll rap about.

“It’s basically me telling my story about how all I have in my life is what I know,” he said. “For better or worse, regardless of the bad days, I’ll always have this to turn to.”

Prime Element

To reach Nicole Inglis, all 970-871-4204 or email


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.