Posted On 17 Jul 2014
Crown is the latest artist to arrive on the hip-hope scene. He spins autobiographical rhymes over the live instrumentals of his Venice-based production team and band–the M.O.B. (Message of the Blues).
In a genre dominated by played-out themes and digitized tracks, Crown forgoes the clichés of bling and women, rapping about deeply personal experiences over lush sound-scapes of Motown- style horns and old school beats.
When was the first moment that you realized that you wanted to be a performer?
The first moment was probably seeing freestyle ciphers in my neighborhood growing up. I was a break dancer at the age of 6 trying to follow my older brother and his friends so once they started doing it, and the amount of people that would be around while they were spitting, it was fascinating to me seeing the reaction of others off their wordplay and what they were talking about.
How did you come up with your stage name, Crown?
I actually started out with the name Crown Loyal. I just wanted to capture something catchy where people would even catch it or talk about it positive or negative. Crown overall symbolizes dominance, respect, honor, supreme, king, on top, royalty, yet not flamboyant or cocky. I wanted the name to make a strong stamp so I stayed with Crown.
How have you grown as a musician since you started?
My sound is my message. I feel I’m not trying to fit into that bucket of bling lyrics only. Hip hop is very competitive with wordplay, substance etc. I was pretty one sided with lyrics yet rapping over industry beats that I feel fit my style. Now, I’m a lot more challenged working with a band, where different instrument may bring out a wide range of emotions which in turn may change the way I write and come off.
A good friend Phillip Lawrence (backup singer for Bruno Mars) introduced me to Colin Wolfe down at Beacon St Studio in Venice. From there I met Andrew Feltenstein, John Nau, and Dana Nielsen. They all ended up producing my album. I would record a lot with Colin on Saturdays on a few tracks they had drummed up on the spot and I use to write full songs each session. That gained the confidence of those in the studio to start having me work on different projects which led to the commercials and to where I am now.
Well living in California now and experiencing a different vibe altogether on a completely different coast has broadened how I write music completely. The blend of my hip hop roots in NY along with my reggae roots from Spanish Reggae in my oldest brother. I’ve always been a fan of a lot of West Coast Hip Hop from the 90’s. So I feel the marriage is perfect. The blend meshes so well now and it’s a more crisp sound.
What was it like getting your song in the New Amsterdam Vodka commercial? How did this relationship come about?
The New Amsterdam Spot was an incredible accomplishment that I’m very proud of. Kinda coincidental. I was working with Andrew and John at Beacon Street already when the Amsterdam project came in. Andrew put the 2 together. Immediately once they heard our music , they were in. They didn’t blink and the NAV group have been great collaborators.
This is definitely an exciting summer for you with all the releases coming out! How are you feeling about it all at this moment?
It’s an incredible feeling just finally seeing things from an industry standpoint. I’ve always been fan of how releases happen as well as the reaction to it. I’m on a high I can’t explain at the moment. Just the feedback and excitement surrounding the projects we are working on, we know this will open up even more doors to let the world hear what we are coming with.
How are you using social media networks and sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram to interact with your fans? What do you think about it all?
I’m non-stop on social media. I feel with this platform you have more control of what you want to truly get across to fans with your voice. When people can relate to you personally, the music is believable and real. I’m heavy on the social media scene like Facebook and Instagram because it brings fans sorta close to who you really are a person, as opposed to just an artist. Giving them a snapshot of your feelings is very important.
If you had the opportunity to work with any artist/band from the past, present or future, who would it be and why?
Some of my favorites are Nas, Jay-Z, T.I, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Bruno Mars, 50 Cent, Drake, J. Cole, Neyo, Fabulous, Snoop, and the list goes on. I’m a pretty open person that would love to create memories in music with just about any artist. Although I’ve listed mostly Hip Hop artists, I’ve been expanding broader and checking out a lot of alternative acts as well.
I’ve traveled the world and learned so many different things from a culture standpoint so I feel if I were to express that through music, who knows what could come of it. I think when you have a true passion for something like music where you can change views, influence others regardless of race, age, religion or whatever, that alone is motivation enough for me to take it to the next level.
What is your favorite song to perform live and why?
I would say ALL OF THEM, but in all honesty I would probably say it’s a tie between “High” and “Turn Around”. “High” is more of a story where I explain my high for this “thing” that keeps me going. Seeing the crowds reaction off the vibe of that record is amazing. “Turn Around” is all energy and usually the one we close out the show with. It sort of re-introduces the crowd to the intro and sums up our performance.
When you aren’t performing and writing new material, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time with my daughter, enjoy listening to music, watching sports, BBQ, and working out.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making? Who are some new bands that you are loving now?
I follow most of the 90’s hip hop artists that inspired me when I was younger. I try to keep that vibe in my music yet give it a 2k spin to it. Some of the new acts I dig are Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar. Other than that, I try to keep it to 90’s hip hop.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something silly that’s taken place (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
We sort of pull pranks a lot in the studio on each other mainly when we are recording. We go through a verse one real good time and next thing you know, the engineer or whoever is recording the session will say they messed up or they weren’t recording, only to find out they were the whole time. “take your shit off, its really loud on the mic.” It’s just something to get a reaction out of each other.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
When people listen to my music, I want them to feel a sense of respect for what they hear. I really want to bridge that gap that’s going on in music today where it seems pretty one-sided with the trap rap, bling and glamour type of content. I want my music to be a direct reflection of the person you see in the mirror every day, the average person that struggle and work hard to get to the next level in life. I want to speak for the streets and those that may not convey their message the correct way, yet mean well . I wanna make music for blacks, whites, latinos, everybody all for one, music that inspires everyone.