‘Dezert Banditz’ Stealing the Scene

By: Jonathan Baca, Staff Reporter | Photo Courtesy: Kron Jeremy, Dezert Banditz

The Duke City’s hip-hop scene is alive and kicking, said Liberal Arts major and local MC Jeremiah Cordova who performs under the alias Kron Jeremy.

Cordova is a member of the Dezert Banditz, a collec­tive of local MCs, DJs, pro­moters, producers and artists the goal of which is to support the growing hip-hop scene in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, he said. The Dezert Banditz help to sponsor shows to keep the scene working together as well as help new MCs get recog­nized, said Cordova.

“We’re trying to show love and stay humble,” he said. Cordova said the name is a ref­erence to the intention of the group — to steal the hip-hop scene back.

The group formed in 2011 as a response to the local scene at the time, which was very exclu­sive and hard to break into, said former student, member and producer Bryan Higgans, also known as Kuma.

“This town, at times, has not really been open to people who are not politically con­nected with the big venues,” he said. “It was hard for us to get shows, and the Banditz really opened up the door.”

Higgans also manages a recording studio out of his home, called The Kave Productions, and has recorded tracks for all of the members of Banditz.

With help from all the other Banditz, Kave Productions recently released a compilation CD featuring all members of the crew titled “Dezert Banditz,” he said.

The Banditz also accom­plished establishing a Mic Club, a series of competitions where new MCs perform on stage, said Cordova.

The Mic Club compe­titions featured twelve 15 minute sets, followed by head­liners from the Banditz. The competitors were evaluated by four judges and the winners received $250 in prize money, said Cordova.

“It gives them a lot cooler of a venue to perform at, and gives them a chance to get seen on a big stage,” said Cordova.

The Mic Club shows are open to all those who want a chance to prove themselves, and are a great way to get started, said Cordova.

The next Mic Club is sched­uled to take place in October, downtown at The Launchpad, he said.

Many members of the Banditz have been featured on “Street Beat,” a local radio show on 89.9 KUNM. Host DJ and Banditz member Jason Waldren, also known as J-Dubbz, said MCs from the Banditz have been featured live in the studio and he plays various tracks from the Banditz.

“We started doing things on our own and it has been a great thing. Now we’re just doing our own thing and finally getting our music out there,” he said.

Not just anyone can become a member of the Banditz, said member and MC Jon Biggs, also known as Big J.

“Nowadays you’re competing with a hundred guys making music in their closets,” he said. “A lot of people have been trying to become Banditz, but we’re very serious about what we do and the level we’re trying to take it to,” he said.

Biggs, and the groups he has been a member of, have toured with MCs like KRS-One and have collaborated with Snoop Dogg and members of Wu-Tang Clan.

To learn more about the Dezert Banditz, visit their Facebook page. To hear free tracks from their compila­tion CD, visit reverbnation. com/dezertbanditz.

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