Show and prove. Itâ€™s that simple. And for rappers Blu and Taâ€™Raach, this philosophy has become a way of life. No overly flamboyant lyrics, gaudy chains or video hoes. Swap the false swagger for brazen honesty, mediocre lyrics for thematically imaginative rhymes and pseudo-thug image for a genial personality and you have hip-hop collective C.R.A.C. Knuckles. Blu, a Los Angeles native, garnered fame from his 2007 album Below The Heavens. Taâ€™Raach, a producer by trade, has worked with artists from celebrated beat maker J Dilla to soul crooner Dwele. Together, Blu and Taâ€™Raach are looking for one thing â€“ respect.
Ironically, for two artists who make a living out of verbal artistry, they really donâ€™t have much to say in an interview. But such should be expected when their genre-bending opus speaks for itself. â€œIts dope but crack, old but new, hot but cold, and I like it mucho,â€ Blu says of C.R.A.C.â€™s forthcoming album, titled The Piece Talks due out April 22nd. So, as the world anticipates the duoâ€™s debut, Blu and Taâ€™Raach will continue to grind out, make good music and speak their â€œpiece.â€
“Yo, man I am a part of what this is. Breathing life into it the like the ones before me and the ones to come.”
Format: C.R.A.C. stands for â€˜Collect Respect Anna Check.â€™ Can you elaborate on the acronymâ€™s significance and what it means to you both?
Blu: It means get paid in a respectful way.
Taâ€™Raach: For me, it means stand up and be accounted for in action. Bring esteem to that which you express. In some cases that takes a more assertive or aggressive approach, which can easily be considered crass. We just exploited that idea and came C.R.A.C.
Format: Both of you are talented artists individually, why collaborate and form a group?
Blu: Why not?
Taâ€™Raach: Why not spread the wealth. We are talented individually but each of us brings something to the table that the other doesn’t. Like any other group. And C.R.A.C. is more of a family or cult-kick off than a â€œrapâ€ group. We just like making music and respect each others craft and perspective.
Format: Despite Bluâ€™s previous effort, Below the Heavens, and Taâ€™Raachâ€™s impressive resume, having worked with J Dilla, Elzhi and Dwele among others, both of you flew under the radar in 2007. Why is that?
Blu: What radar? Man, there is no radar. If there is, it sucks.
Taâ€™Raach: Personally, I was working on making a sharp left so as not to be pigeon holed as the typical soul music producer or “conscious rapper.” I’m kinda tired of the labeling and comparisons you know it just gets old so I revamped the formula and tested the waters a couple times. In 2007 I released a production record The Fevers, an instrumental record EL-O-VEE, pronounced L-O-V, and a short film score on 10inch â€œRaach City Riot.â€ So Iâ€™m not sure if I was under the radar or if reality television really is taking over. You tell me?
Format: How will 2008 be different?
Taâ€™Raach: Less material more impact
Blu: Lot more shit coming out.
Format: Can you explain the meaning behind your upcoming album â€“ The Piece Talks?
Taâ€™Raach: The Piece Talks is me and Blu’s meeting. We wanted to step into our essence with this one so the piece, weapon of choice, is actually the music that influenced us we sat and made a list like what was the first piece you got and how did you learn to use it. For me I found two pieces thrown in a trash can at school. Took them home and discovered Paid In Full and Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. Learned to use them shits, mastered them and became addicted and I couldnâ€™t stop coppinâ€™. So Blu and I was like OK ultimately there is no way around it, The Piece Talks our meeting, our influences, what we feed our souls and how thatâ€™s communicated and lived out. Thatâ€™s it â€“ The Piece Talks. A statement of action not an event, stand up, be accounted for, come C.R.A.C. or donâ€™t come. The piece talks.
Blu: Itâ€™s like a lion. Some people think theyâ€™re Mufasa lions, but theyâ€™re really just â€œWizard Of Ozâ€ lions. They â€œlionâ€ to they self.
Format: What was your mission going into the album?
Blu: Have fun and finish in seven days.
Taâ€™Raach: Lock out and record as much as possible while teaching and learning to be better. That’s pretty much it.
Format: In terms of sound and production, to what extent is the album produced by Taâ€™Raach?
Taâ€™Raach: The entire album is produced by Taâ€™ Raach. I mean me.
Blu: All of it sucka! Iâ€™m playinâ€™, Iâ€™m playinâ€™.
Format: Taâ€™Raach, where do you draw your inspiration from when producing tracks?
Taâ€™Raach: Grand Marnier and Johnny Walker. Sometimes head and the crust off bread.
Format: Can listeners expect the same showcase of lyrical bravado from Blu on The Piece Talks like we experienced on Below the Heavens?
Blu: No. Iâ€™m talking all the shit Exile felt uncomfortable with me saying.
Format: How is C.R.A.C. Knuckles different from any other hip hop group?
Taâ€™Raach: That’s a tough one â€¦. none of them are in C.R.A.C.
Blu: The sound. Canâ€™t compare the album to nothing. I promise.
Format: Being from Los Angeles, the gangsta rapper stigma doesnâ€™t quite fit your style or lyrical content. Blu, how would you describe your style?
Blu: Like Snoop [Dogg] meets Plug One.
Format: For both of you, what has the journey has been like from fan to artist?
Taâ€™Raach: Yo, man I am a part of what this is. Breathing life into it the like the ones before me and the ones to come. Some people are fans and others are participants. Choose ya piece.
Blu: I still want to be a fan, but I canâ€™t. Gotta face responsibility. But Iâ€™m still a fan of Raachâ€™s shit.
Format: After the album, whatâ€™s next?
Blu: A lot of shit. A whole lot of shit.
Taâ€™Raach: Like Puff said you know, mo money, mo proâ€™lems.