There’s no place in the world quite like Colorado. It’s a place of stupefying beauty and unbelievable contrasts. Colorado is where the prairie gives way to the leading edge of the Rockies, where the city collides with the wilderness, and where the spirit of growth and enterprise makes contact with traces of history far older than that of the United States of America. Colorado is where to go to get in touch with titanic natural forces and lose yourself in the rhythms of nature and the transcendent power of the landscape. Grizzly John and Lewis I Am of the hip-hop and soul duo AztroGrizz know all about it: Colorado made them who they are, and on their latest single, they’re giving back to the Centennial State in colorful, compassionate language.
And how do they explain the allure of Colorado? “The character’s strong, but soft like leather,” raps Lewis I Am on the second verse of “The Colorado Song.” He’s getting at the rugged quality of the state and its yielding nature, too — the way that Colorado embraces and gathers in visitors, making them feel at home and giving them a sense of property in the natural world. Of course, that also makes Colorado’s resources easy to exploit, and AztroGrizz is candid about their state’s vulnerability to the predations and attitudes of outsiders. Lewis I Am is upfront about the cost of development and the toll that constant building has taken on the state, and he’s as incisive about those things as he is about Colorado’s gorgeous vistas. In his meditative and beautifully sung verse, Grizzly John imagines a conversation among tourists, complaining about the lack of stores and resorts, the harshness of the weather, and the challenges of the terrain. They’d like to remake Colorado according to their own comforts. But the members of AstroGrizz know what’s at stake: a place where they can feel truly free.
The breathtaking clip for “The Colorado Song” makes that sense of freedom palpable. The camera takes us on roads that skirt the front range of the Rockies; we drive through the blizzard and the snow cover, and we can almost hear the cracking ice on the rivers. We’re shown metropolitan Denver, too, and the handsome towers of a great American city with its own peculiar personality. The video and the song make clear that this is not a place easily tamed, even by those with very deep pockets. Long may that be true.