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Crown City Rockers: Earthtones

Crown City Rockers: Earthtones

Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Andrea D. Wilson | Posted 3/16/2005

Minor setbacks have helped the live hip-hop outfit Crown City Rockers. After an 18-wheeler totaled a car containing the group’s instruments, the band used the insurance money to fund its groundbreaking self-titled 2000 EP under the name Mission; soon after, the group lost that name to a ’60s British rock band. Since then the Boston collective relocated to the Bay Area and crafted a new moniker along with its ambitious, genre-blending debut, Earthtones.

It’s filled with melodic tracks and crisp rhymes delivered by Cali-bred MC Raashan Ahmad. His lyrics are forthright and heartfelt on the serene “10:53”—“Feeling like I’m falling down and I’m caught off track/ Weighted by inhibition music bring me back”—and he denounces useless MCs with the same sincerity on the funk-induced “No Sense,” asking, “What’s a dope rhyme if you ain’t got skills/ Why you front hard when you just ain’t real?” But he’s outclassed by Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab, whose light-speed fluency outshines the young MC on the bass-heavy, neck-jerker “Fortitude.”

Production rockers Woodstock and Headnodic spearhead Earthtones’ strong vibe. “Another Day” is tethered with hard snares, a driving guitar sample, and looped flutes, while a soulful choir propels “B-Boy.” Two tracks offer glimpses of the band’s diverse potential. “Balance” fuses Kat Ouano’s soft keyboard touches with live snare kicks from Max MacVeety, while “Sidestep” layers a guitar, chiming keys, and smooth bass into Destani Wolf’s angelic vocals. Earthtones effectively blends jazz, funk, and hip-hop into an eclectic montage of fresh lyricism and bursting musical backdrops.

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