August 31, 2023
Community Spotlight: Celebrating Denver’s Hip-Hop with Kelsey O’Sullivan from The Knock
The Knock is the creative brain-child of Kelsey O’Sullivan that began in 2021 as a monthly house party that provided a space for Denver artists to come together and celebrate music and the creative expression found in hip-hop. The success of the monthly parties quickly expanded into a collaboration with Denver creatives, ranging from performing artists, videographers, photographers, visual artists, and local organizations. The product of these collaborations can be seen in The Knock 303 Cypher videos that you can check out on their YouTube Channel. I connected with Kelsey via email to learn more about The Knock and the upcoming release of their new cypher video featuring some amazing Denver talent and filmed at the MCA Denver at the Holiday Theater, celebrating 50 years of hip-hop.
What inspired the creation of The Knock?
The Knock's inception was a very happy accident. As HappyMess Productions started working towards the creative space we had been dreaming of for years - a late night YouTube session sparked a simple idea, producing a hip-hop show that mimicked a house party. With a nudge from a friend we ventured into our first event. From there, it grew into so much more than an event series.
Why was it important to create an opportunity to celebrate community and hip-hop in Denver?
It was important for our team on so many levels. Our hip-hop industry has given so many opportunities and love to our city. We felt like there was more we could do more from an event production standpoint. We felt most events did a disservice to the hip-hop community.
How could our city be recognized for its immense talent if artists weren't given proper recognition?
So we built a foundation that challenged the status quo: curating lineups that complimented every artist involved, carefully choosing venues that gave space for attendees to connect throughout the show, and making sure that our main focus was that all the artists walked away with more than just stage time, giving them the professionalism and chance to deepen their connection with their community.
What are some of the events you’ve produced since The Knock’s inception?
We have had the opportunity to produce four events since November of 2021. All of them presented a new experience than the one before. One thing that sets us apart is our dedication to recognize all the facets of the industry. Continuously working with new studios, venues, media teams, etc.
On Friday we will release our 7th Cypher. We were blessed with a new idea early in our journey that became a staple in our process. Curating cyphers that challenged the artists, yet always led to collaboration,formed unbreakable bonds.
In celebration of Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary, you curated a cypher that was filmed in the city and at MCA Denver at the Holiday Theater. Who are some of the artists that you have represented in the film?
This video is the biggest project we have ever stepped into. MCA believing in The Knock and offering us this opportunity was such a gift. We knew we wanted to create a cypher that was unlike what we had created before and spoke to the celebration of everything that hip-hop has given to us.
Why should Denver be seen as a strong contributor in the hip-hop community?
I will go toe to toe with anyone who gives me another reason why Denver will never be "on the map" when it comes to hip-hop. Our city holds so much talent it still continues to amaze me. Year after year I go to shows and am introduced to more artists I had never heard before. A lot of the artists we brought to the studio hadn't heard of the other artists in the room.
I am proud to say that Denver doesn't have "a sound". The artists in our city hold so many unique voices that continue to shape shift into new versions that push the envelope. So many of the creatives in Denver are limitless when it comes to the skills they possess. The determination and drive to raise the ceiling of their own talent pushes our culture forward on a regular basis. And the love they put into other artists around them, always reminds me of our “why”.
How can the community support The Knock?
Our team is grateful every day for the work we get to do. I know that no matter the cost we would do whatever it takes to do this forever. Our biggest challenge is funding. We have paid for everything we have done from day one. Finding local partners and brands to sponsor The Knock and fund our future projects would change our trajectory in a major way.
Summer is winding down! As we transition into the latter part of the year, what are you looking forward to?
Goodness it has been a busy year! After this summer we are reflecting and looking forward to what the rest of this year holds. We hope to produce an event highlighting our Latino/x and Old School lineups. From there we will plan our final cyphers before we celebrate our two year anniversary in November.