Rappers Blu and Ta’Raach are the type of guys who make random demands–like asking me to put the names of actresses Monica Belucci and Kerry Washington somewhere in this article. In all caps. Without any preface. And as C.R.A.C.–pronounced “crass,” because, well, “That’s what the music is, that’s what we are,” says Ta’Raach–they’re less concerned with talking about music than they are about breakfast cereals. However, the Southern California-based twosome is thoughtful enough to issue their listeners this disclaimer: “There’s a lot of curse words from me personally [on our debut album, The Piece Talks],” warns producer/MC Ta’Raach. “And a lot more from me,” adds Blu, who was praised by various hip-hop websites as rap’s 2007 rookie of the year.
On The Piece Talks, Ta’Raach–who was known as Lacks, a member of J. Dilla’s Detroit camp, before migrating westward–crafts leftfield beats for himself and Blu to drop distorted soul rhymes over. And like Jaylib, that other influential L.A.-Detroit duo, C.R.A.C. (an acronym for Collect Respect Anna Check) transcends rap mediocrity. In fact, if you ask them, they don’t even make hip-hop. “Hip-hop is forever, but let’s give birth to something else,” says Ta’Raach.
Self-identified as “lo-fi pop rock,” the duo’s music deftly defies genre classifications. At times, C.R.A.C. can be straightforward, with gritty beats, pounding percussion, and raw rhymes on tracks like “Respect” and “Major Way.” But, like a paranoid schizophrenic, the album doesn’t sit still; Ta’Raach takes different directions with each track, his layered instrumentals typically clocking in at a little over two minutes a pop. The lead single, a rousing and infectious curveball entitled “Buy Me Lunch,” features vocals from Noni Lamar over a bubbly, ’60s acoustic-pop motif. Blu and Ta’Raach don’t spit a single bar on the song, yet the few words they shout on the hook sum up what C.R.A.C. is all about, for better or worse: “Let’s play! Get paid! Don’t be fucking sensitive! And don’t be gay!”
“Most rappers are either really happy being rich and they talk about it all the time, or they’re broke and they talk about it all the time,” Ta’Raach explains.
According to Ta’Raach, the album’s been done since 2005 but the industry’s stalemate halted its release. “The industry is broke, going through a collapse with digital marketing, digital distribution,” he explains. “It was hard for us to find a proper home. Blu did his record [Below the Heavens, with producer Exile]. I did a producer record [Fevers, which featured Blu on three tracks]. Someone hollered at us about it.”
The rest, as they say, is history. But as for the duo’s future, one can only guess. “I’m down to see what happens,” says Ta’Raach. “I just want people to listen to the record. We got more work [to do]. I was watching an interview with Russell Simmons, and he was like, ‘Yo, I just like to serve.’ I’m here to serve. I rap. I make beats. We serve the community.”