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Like many of hip-hop’s most memorable acts, Crocker casts a persona that is somewhat larger than life. Love him or hate him, at least you know him. He along with his group of like-minded individuals at Lovelorn Records have been a continual driving force for quality Upstate hip-hop over the past few years and this is the first single off of Crocker’s debut LP, Catharsis. You can stream and download the single below and we also took the time to catch up with and talk about what he’s got going on in the next few months as well as his thoughts on the current musical climate.
Wes Gilliam: Ok first I want to talk about the new single. You’ve never shied away from race issues (The American Way etc.), and with a title like “I Think I’m Black” you’re definitely not dancing around anything. You told me that the first two verses are you laying out your criticisms about yourself and the third verse is your rebuttal, with that being said what have been your criticisms? Do they stem from primarily being a white male in the hip-hop genre? And if that is an issue, why do you still think it’s an issue in 2012?
Crocker: People are quick to dismiss me. The A.D.H.D. and my sometimes animated nature might have something to do with it. I’ve heard the word “Eminem” so much in my life, in reference to me, that I confuse his name for my name, lol. I’ve had “fellow” whites call me the n-word or n-word lover a nice chunk too. I’d probably equate that to more of a social issue…as if, at my core and not overtly, I’m supposed to have some innate tribalistic loyalty toward people that lack melanin. On the national scene…no…I don’t think being white and doing hip-hop matters. People don’t really care as much. Personally, I don’t think people would care as much with me if race, religion, and politics didn’t saturate my topic matter. I think it’s brought about or used to debunk my views because they may not want to see a skinny, baptist raised, Anglo-Saxon male speaking bluntly on racial bias down below the Mason-Dixon line. So do I think being white and being a rapper matters today? No. Not at all. Do I think it matters to people that I’m white and speaking bluntly about the ever present color line? Yes sir, I do. The title of that song is a comment I’ve heard made about me…and my thought was, “Okay, let’s run down all my critiques in a song and then I’ll give my response.”
WG: Another thing I want to talk about are your music videos, which are mostly barebone and done with little “production value”. Is this a purposeful decision? It seems to fit into your aesthetic of how you say you don’t make “rap music”, but that you make hip-hop.
Crocker: Alot of the time it was just working within a limited parameter of time. I like to keep it bare bones though. I’m not much for gimmickry unless it’s overly gonzo. Most of the time, I’d rather people focus on what’s being said…save for “Blue Brew” (Directed by Brittany Brock)….that was just a quick run & gun shoot for a older, goofy song. Not much being said it that one.
WG: If you had to break it down for commoners, what would you say the main differences are between rap and hip-hop? When I think hip-hop I think Dialated Peoples, Del The Funky Homosapien, De La Soul and Mos Def. more literate and socially minded artists etc. When I think rap, well I just have to turn on the radio haha.
Crocker: More times than naught, lol. It’s like juxtaposing Bob Dylan & Bon Jovi. Now both acts are saying something….it’s just what Dylan has to say is probably more socially relevant and thought provoking. I like to view songwriting as detail vs. cliche. And that’s usually what separates the popular incarnation of something vs. the original and more interesting incarnation of something. Detail personalizes and intrigues……Cliche is broad, vague, and a goddamned bore. That’s a large part of hip-hop vs. rap. Hell, Scarface did gangster rap and it wasn’t contrived…it was fresh and always grabbed me…because he personalized and never left out any facet of whatever topic he touched on.
WG: You’re dropping your first LP in April entitled “Catharsis”, what can fans expect from this as far as structure and dynamics?
Crocker: Alot of what the title implies. Something that runs the gamut of emotion. They’ll be a couple of more lighthearted moments on the album but overall the album will be more personal, more conscious, and more confrontational.
WG: Can we expect some collaborations on the new album? Anyone new that we may be unfamiliar with?
Crocker: The Apollo Theory will be back for this record. I’m excited about that. I’m trying to get Ghani Gautama in for a record. 10th Letter (http://soundcloud.com/10th-letter), a brilliant producer from the Asheville Beat Tape collective and Skew Records, did a record with me for this album that I’m very proud of. Walter Kronkite produced three or four tracks for the record, including the only positive Crocker song in existence, lol. Christian rapper/saxophone player Sax from local R&B soul band Hott Gritz (http://www.reverbnation.com/hottgritz) makes an appearance on a record that Jack Bandit produced as well another friend, a rapper by the name of O.D. Krosswordze produced the intro for the album and rapper/producer Ty Bru from Mightier Than The Sword Records produced the Crocker club banger. JubbyFUK also produced a vintage radio crime show sampling track for the album and he’ll mix, master, and executive produced the album as well. Other than that, expect the usual suspects to cameo with features and production. I’m very excited for people to see what they did for this record.
WG: What are your plans for after the album release? Any release shows planned or other promotional endeavors?
Crocker: Justin (label co-owner) & I have discussed a couple things and he’s pretty adamant about doing something for the release, but nothing set in stone as of this moment.
WG: Finally, one thing that I’ve noticed and was just talking to my roommate about was that their seems to be a lot of up and coming hip-hop and rap artists coming up through the Upstate but we never hear about any live shows really. Is there anywhere we can keep our ears to the ground for people that are interested in those forms of music locally?
Crocker: Check that WPBR Radio Room calendar… I know they bring through good hip-hop live shows every now and then. Relic & the crew from Ill Muzik Radio (http://www.illmuzik.com/) consistently keep good coverage over rap & hip-hop in North & South Carolina. Other than that…here. WeAreTheUpstate. There’s really nothing else out there that cover us.
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