3 The Hardway
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3 The Hardway

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"Album Release: Reach for the Stars"

The Marquis Theater was home to the group 3 The Hard Way’s album release party. Packing in the dance floor, the crowd thrusted their fists to the beat and sang along with the emcees’ rhymes from their new CD entitled ‘Set in Stone’. A.v.i.u.s, Es Nine, and DJ Cysko Rokwel composed the stage with featured artists like ManeLine, DJ Babu, Defari, Rakaa Iriscience, and Diamond Boiz while artist Delton Demarest, who did the album art, painted on stage right. With verses articulated through clear mics, songs like ‘Wild Style West’ featuring ManeRok proudly reps Colorado and is no wonder why the crowd responded so emphatically. Put together hyped-up choruses, a cut killin’ DJ, good crowd control and you’ll always get a recipe for a dope show. Combine that with a moment of inspiration and you can’t lose.
Torwards the end of their set A.v.i.u.s. stops the show to announce the presence of Kenya, an ex-gang member who was paralyzed in a gang fight. He was brought to the show thanks to Bessie’s Hope foundation for the simple fact that he wanted to see a Hip-Hop show. A.v.i.u.s. revealed the story of how Kenya told him to stay positive and don’t let anyone say you can’t do what you want to do. Another man, Mike Williams, sits in his wheelchair while A.v.i.u.s. announces his role in the production of a flash animation movie that introduces the group’s new album, (located on 3 The Hard Way myspace page).
Seeing Kenya smile throughout the night and Mike’s achievements despite his condition was inspiring enough and an apt intro to the song ‘Reach for the Stars’. A song about reaching for the highest goals or don’t reach at all. I’m sure 3 The Hard Way are intimate with the ideas couched in the song and hopefully ignites all of us to keep on our highest goals no matter the weather. After all, it’s obvious once you see the hard work put in by Denver’s own and listen to the track ‘Came up’. It’s about being part of an industry almost completely oblivious to Denver, and unfortunately, Denver is mostly oblivious to its own products. This is true as A.v.i.u.s. spits the line “. . .my man [DJ Cysko Rokwel] wins national competitions, comes back and gets no recognition.” Even though Denver Hip-Hop artists, alongside all the arts in Denver, experience the same plight, we should all keep pushin’: reach for the stars.
- Denver Post


"Best Hip Hop Album 2009"

Best Hip-Hop Album
3 the Hardway, Set in Stone
Colorado rapper A.V.I.U.S., producer Es-Nine and DJ Cysko Rokwel each had their own thing going on before they came together as 3 the Hardway: Cysko Rokwel was taking out DJs nationwide in the DMC Championships; Es-Nine was producing for local and national artists; and A.V.I.U.S. had just dropped his solid debut album, Patience. But with all three talents combined in one package, you couldn't ask for a more thorough project, from Es-Nine's hard-hitting beats and A.V.I.U.S.'s heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics to Cysko making the DJ essential in hip-hop albums again. If you cop one Colorado hip-hop disc all year, this is the one to get.

- Westword (Village Voice Media)


"Best Hip Hop DJ 2009"

Best Hip-Hop DJ
Cysko Rokwel
Over the past few years, DJ Cysko Rokwel has become one of Colorado's elite DJs: He has a weekly residency at Boulder's Round Midnight, spins on Radio 1190's hip-hop-centric Basementalism show every week, and backs up local artists A.V.I.U.S., Es-Nine and The 6th Grade on records and at live shows. But his biggest accomplishment to date was placing second at the DMC USA DJ finals in Delaware, making him one of the best turntablists in the nation. And as soon as the video of his DMC routine hit YouTube, a heated competition between Cysko and a California DJ broke out in the comments section, setting the stage for a possible DMC battle this year. We got Cysko's back!
- Westword (Village Voice Media)


"Best Producer 2009"

Best Hip-Hop Producer
Es-Nine
He's produced tracks for the likes of KRS-One, Dilated Peoples, Braille and Killah Priest, but that's not why people are talking about Es-Nine. His group, 3 the Hardway, recently released its debut album, Set in Stone, which was entirely produced by Es-Nine and features some of the hardest head-nodding beats to come out of Colorado in some time. But it doesn't stop there: Es is also working on his own solo album as well as projects with Mane Rok and a new solo album from A.I.V.U.S.
- Westword (Village Voice Media)


"Westword Music Showcase 2009"

3 the Hardway, 6:00 p.m.
While 3 the Hardway was setting up for their set, DJ Cysko Rokwel got the crowd warmed up and ready with a fresh DJ set that really set the tone. A.V.I.U.S. and Es-Nine opened their set with "Set in Stone" and followed it with "The Truth." One of the greatest things about 3 the Hardway is Es-Nine's production. The beats these guys are working with can rock any party and get the crowd to let go of its inhibitions. The trio ran through "Unusual," "We Here," and "This Moment," where they invited singer Aurora Lopez to the stage to handle the hook. Cysko Rokwel then took a moment to show off a bit of his DJing prowess before the group went into "Remember" and the guaranteed crowd rocker "Came Up." Mane Rok, who had just finished his set with ManeLine, took the stage again and rocked "Wild Style West" with the trio. Cysko then took over once again and showcased his beat-juggling skills, which he will take on the road when he competes in this year's DMC Championships. Rokwel's turntablism skills are so clean you could hardly tell he was manipulating any records. The trio finally ended their set with "Reach for the Stars," while throwing free copies of their album into the crowd. It was a great was to end a celebration of Colorado hip-hop.
Verdict: 3 the Hardway's Set in Stone is one of the best Colorado hip-hop albums you'll ever hear and it translates well to the live stage. Plus, getting to see Cysko Rokwel rock those turntables live is something that shouldn't be missed.
- Westword (Village Voice Media)


"Spotlight-The Long Road"

3 the Hardway, 6:00 p.m.
While 3 the Hardway was setting up for their set, DJ Cysko Rokwel got the crowd warmed up and ready with a fresh DJ set that really set the tone. A.V.I.U.S. and Es-Nine opened their set with "Set in Stone" and followed it with "The Truth." One of the greatest things about 3 the Hardway is Es-Nine's production. The beats these guys are working with can rock any party and get the crowd to let go of its inhibitions. The trio ran through "Unusual," "We Here," and "This Moment," where they invited singer Aurora Lopez to the stage to handle the hook. Cysko Rokwel then took a moment to show off a bit of his DJing prowess before the group went into "Remember" and the guaranteed crowd rocker "Came Up." Mane Rok, who had just finished his set with ManeLine, took the stage again and rocked "Wild Style West" with the trio. Cysko then took over once again and showcased his beat-juggling skills, which he will take on the road when he competes in this year's DMC Championships. Rokwel's turntablism skills are so clean you could hardly tell he was manipulating any records. The trio finally ended their set with "Reach for the Stars," while throwing free copies of their album into the crowd. It was a great was to end a celebration of Colorado hip-hop.
Verdict: 3 the Hardway's Set in Stone is one of the best Colorado hip-hop albums you'll ever hear and it translates well to the live stage. Plus, getting to see Cysko Rokwel rock those turntables live is something that shouldn't be missed.
- Colorado Music Buzz


Discography

A.V.I.U.S. - "Patience" LP 2007

3 The Hardway - "Set in Stone" LP 2009
"Set in Stone" album features:
-Rakaa Iriscience (Dilated Peoples)
-Defari (Likwit Junkies)
-Braille (Lightheaded)
-Doujah Raze

Es NIne -"Light of Day Instrumental" LP 2009

Photos

Bio

For any structure, the foundation upon which it is built is of the upmost importance. 3 The Hardway recently released their debut LP Set In Stone, but by no means is this their base, it is merely one of the many building blocks the group has set upon their solid foundation of DJ Cysko Rokwel, Producer/Engineer Es Nine and MC A.V.I.U.S.

Cysko Rokwel was the last piece of the puzzle attained when putting together 3 The Hardway. A battle hardened DJ; Cysko holds multiple titles which include:
- 2007 DMC USA 2nd Place winner
- 2007 Boulder DMC Champ
- 2007 Guitar Center Battle Champ-San Francisco
Obviously no slouch on the cut, Rokwel has also kept up with steady appearances on Boulder’s Radio 1190 Basementalism Hip Hop show. He became the final “piece of the puzzle” after making a guest appearance on House of Waxx’s first release, A.V.I.U.S.’s solo album, Patience.

Producer/Engineer Es Nine has been one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. This Mexico born, California raised, Hip Hop lover found his way to Colorado after receiving his degree from the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Arizona. He made the journey due to the creation of his former label Fan Bass. Fan Bass would help Es Nine pad his resume, allowing him to produce/record/engineer records for KRS-One, Dilated Peoples, Killah Priest, Encore, Rudy Love of Sly and the Family Stone and more. Creative differences would eventually cause Es Nine to part ways with the label, but his love for the music kept him persevering. This break would eventually present him bigger and better opportunities, leading him to A.V.I.U.S. The pair put their heads together to create House of Waxx Recordings and subsequently their first piece as a collective, “Patience.” In 2009, Es Nine was named Colorado’s producer of the year in Westword magazine.

A.V.I.U.S. plays the roles of front man, business man and manager for the trio. Working hard at perfecting his craft on the mic, A.V.I.U.S. found his niche and voice for both recording and performing over the last two years. Having opened shows for a slew of recognized and respected names such as the GZA , Sweatshop Union, Pharcyde, Dilated Peoples and many more, this MC gets overwhelming praise from the crowds that he moves. This acclaim commonly elevates him to the same level as the “main” acts he precedes. His deep, grizzly voice commands attention once heard, and once told, listeners connect with the stories that seamlessly emerge from this MC’s heart and mind.

The foundation has proven to be solid with all three men involved playing their respective roles to the T. Though only released in February 2009 3 The Hardway’s Set In Stone has received countless accolades including being named Hip Hop Album of The Year in Colorado’s own Westword magazine, a highly prestigious honor. Set In Stone, which features Rakaa Iriscience, Defari, Braille, Doujah Raze and both Mane Rok and InkLine of ManeLine is merely the first production by the trio that will prove that they will live up to any title they earn.