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Blu: C.R.A.C. Attack

The beauty of Hip-Hop is that there’s always a hungry MC out there making great music you’ve haven’t heard yet. Enter LA rapper Blu, who burst on the scene last year with the Exile produced album Below the Heavens. Since then, the young MC has had praises heaped on him everywhere from ?uestlove of the Roots to every blogspot/wordpress user on the Internets. After tearing down the A3C Festival last week in Atlanta and being mobbed by fans, the signs are apparent that Blu is going to have a pretty good “sophomore” year.  With his new group C.R.A.C. Knuckles (with MC/producer Ta’Raach), their forthcoming LP The Piece Talks dropping April 22 seeks to once again enrapture the minds and hearts of Hip-Hop fans.AllHipHop.com: Tell me how you and Ta’Raach came up with the name C.R.A.C.?Blu: Me and Ta‘Raach have this similar mindstate when we get together that we just don’t give a f**k about nothing. So, ‘Raach was trying to find the best way to describe us and he came up with “crass.” So we were like how can we incorporate crass into a title? From there we went to the crass knucks thing and it was ‘Raach’s idea to flip the spelling. I thought that was dope because I knew people would say “crack,” and it is like crack the way we pump [the music] out there; seven days a week, get you hooked on it and coming back for more. I made it an acronym for Collect Respect Anna Check to describe our mindstate to the industry at the time of making the record. We just had a crass attitude with it.AllHipHop.com: You have a track on there called “Respect” where you mention the respect of your peers is more important to you then the respect of music execs. In that regard being that you’re opening for the Juice Crew, how important do you feel festivals like A3C are that bring together the old and the new as far as Hip-Hop artists?Blu: Ah man I’m still tripping…I’m still trying to see the show. That’s why I came (from Los Angeles). Shows like this…I wanna be there to watch the s**t. I didn’t get to see too many concerts coming up. I didn’t get to see the Juice Crew whatsoever in my life, so I’m trying to see them (laughs). I’m still a fan, y’know man? I’m amped opening up for them. I don’t even know how I got the spot but I’m like, “Let’s go, let’s go”…[C.R.A.C. “Respect”]AllHipHop.com: Production wise on the new record tracks like “Chill,” “Bullet Through Me,” and “Buy Me Lunch” are a lot different from you standard 1-2, kick-snare beats. Was that something you guys were deliberately trying to do to switch up the sound from what people expect?Blu: Ta‘Raach would let me pick beats, and I would pick straightforward beats. And he would pick something totally unconventional. Then he’d be like “spit to that.” And I’d be like (makes funny face) “Damn!” (But) I’d pen some s**t to it. Everything I’d pick I’d go for that 1-2, boom bap, y’know? [Ta’Raach] would be like, “Look man, we gotta take it out the box a little bit.” I appreciated that because it’s like exercise, and it keeps you open (to) new rhythms, pockets….it’s real good.AllHipHop.com: The “Cotton” Skit… (skit on The Piece Talks that insults every single rap fan out there)Blu: (Laughs)AllHipHop.com: It was hilarious, but there’s a lot of truth in there as well.Blu: Yeah.AllHipHop.com: So based on the fact that you guys wrote that, what do you feel is the biggest problem with the mindstate of today’s average Hip Hop fan?Blu: I don’t think there’s a problem. I just think there’s so much music, and now it’s unfiltered, just straight to them (the fans). They got everything right there so they’re greedy. They throw in one s**t one day and then the next day forget about it. I mean there’s just so much music. I don’t really hold that against them…when ‘Raach wrote it he was talking about everybody, so somebody was bound to be offended because it’s about everyone (laughs). I thought it was dope. Since our music is for everyone, so even if you like it, it’s (still) about you (laughs). We flipped the Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing race diatribes) jumpoff and Cube jumpoff (NWA “Benedict Arnold” skit).[C.R.A.C. “Pop Dem Boyz”]AllHipHop.com: With so many different projects going on, what do you do to make sure every project remains distinct and cohesive? Do you ever feel you run the risk of everything just starting to run together?Blu: Not really. The three main projects I’ve worked on so far are my foundation of who I was.  With Exile he was interested in what I had to say, like my feelings and perspective on things. So we tried to pin that the best we could. But at the same time I wanted to get this raw side out.  So I did Johnson&Johnson just rapping over loops. It was intended to be a mixtape but I don’t like rapping over other people’s beats so I was like, “Let’s go over some loops.” So it ended up getting bigger than it was. But the feeling I get from busting over tracks…that’s my favorite s**t.And then C.R.A.C. is like songwriting; we got rock songs covering Paul McCartney. It’s experimental, unconventional, whatever we wanna do. So when you put all three (projects) together (Below the Heavens, Johnson&Johnson, and The Piece Talks) that’s pretty much my sound.AllHipHop.com: In your music you talk a lot about the struggles fledgling artists go through, particularly financial like having to sleep on friend’s couches. Describe the moment early on were you decided I’m going to take a leap of faith and pursue my music full time.Blu: Yeah. Right before I got signed I quit the job and things just started opening up. Anytime you step into faith s**t opens up for you. Everytime I was like “f**k it, I’m a go for it,” it was like clockwork. Initially I didn’t know s**t about labels so it was great. So from there you learn from it, more situations open up that are bigger and better. [But] you gotta step out.AllHipHop.com: Besides the current team you’ve been working with (Exile, Ta’Raach) are there any other artists out there that have inspired you to pick up the pen?Blu: Oh, some have inspired me so much I can’t pick up the pen.  Like when I heard Jay Electronica’s “Eternal Sunshine”…I stopped my writing for that summer. I was like (confused face) “f**k!”  (laughs) My pen was paused. I like people who do everything: sing, rock out, rap. Like Madlib, he does everything. I like people who are not just trying to rap, do beats for people and that’s it.AllHipHop.com: After the album with Ta’Raach you’re moving straight into the Johnson&Johnson project, correct?Blu: Yeah, this summer…late summer. We’re gonna have an official Johnson&Johnson LP release with new tracks. We’re gonna try to hold it under wraps because n****s have had Johnson&Johnson for a minute. So we’re hoping that they’re still attracted to it (when it drops). (laughs)AllHipHop.com: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the few years you’ve been in the game?Blu: If you do it for the love it will pay off. No matter what they say, it will pay off.AllHipHop.com: Any closing words for the fans out there?Blu: Honesty is the best policy. When you approach your music be honest and the people will appreciate that.[Blu & Exile “Blue Collar Workers” Video]

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