Beantown Beats Move West
Crown City Rockers bring da conscious noize.
Thursday, January 29, 2004
After getting some rave reviews for their first full-length CD by Rollingstone.com and Billboard magazine, the members of the Oakland-based hip-hop outfit Mission hit a couple of major snags. First, the group discovered that the name Mission was already copyrighted by a British rock band. Then, the group lost a band member, when MC Moe Pope left the group to move back to the East Coast
Despite the setbacks, the band, now called Crown City Rockers, is preparing to release a new album called Earth Tones.
Let’s just hope that the Rockers’ new work will contain the same sort of high-quality hip-hop showcased on Mission’s 2001 release, One. On One, keyboardist Kat Ouano, bassist Ethan Parsonage and drummer Max MacVeety laid down a funky, jazzy groove for MCs Raashan Ahmad and Moe Pope to rap over.
The lyrics of “Disturbing Behavior” place the outfit in the same class as fellow “conscious” rap groups like The Roots and Talib Kweli. The song starts with someone naming different designer clothing brands over a drumbeat and saxophone sound. Then the rapping starts with a diss to money-minded rap stars in the opening rhyme: “So many problems existing within the globe/ How can you be so narrow minded rapping about money and clothes.”
On “Now I Shine,” a rapper half sings, half speaks until a female voice enters the song. While guest vocalist Ruby sings, the background music sounds like a slowed down techno beat.
The group formed in 1998 when Ahmad met the group’s keyboardist, drummer and bassist, while the three were attending the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 2000, Ahmad talked the group into moving to a warmer climate, and the three relocated to Oakland.
The Crown City Rockers first single from their upcoming release seems to hint that the group is still busy reinventing hip-hop. The single, titled “Another Day,” features guest appearances by Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and Eric Krasno, the guitarist for the funk/jazz trio Soulive.
The Crown City Rockers play CSUMB’s Black Box Cabaret at 9pm Friday. Free. 582-3597.