Pic By Kyla, Graphics by P
Ta’Raach and Blu might be the hardest people in Hip-Hop to get a hold of. Last time I ran into Blu was at the Pete Rock vs. Primo show a few weeks back and when I saw him I was so happy I did a shuffle.
“Whoa! I get a little dance?!?” he asked.
“Of course!” I said. “You have no idea how hard it is to get at you. You and ‘Raach.”
“Whaaaat?” he said, and he side-smiled like “Who, me?”
Here’s the thing with Ta’Raach and Blu — neither of them has a car or phone. Technically Ta’Raach has a phone, but not one that I’ve been able to get him on. It’s a wonder these two dudes get a hold of each other.
Despite the frustration of trying to contact them, I developed a hypothesis as to why they stay just beyond arm’s reach. First of all, when you do actually see one or both of them it makes you do a little dance. Second, it adds to the enigmatic aura that is C.R.A.C. Knuckles. Third, and most confidently, it makes them the two least uptight people I know.
In this age when we’re all glued to our Blackberry or Sidekick, constantly receiving emails, text messages, phone calls & bulletins, it’s hard to imagine taking a breath and saying, “Fuck it. I’ll be there when I be there.” That said, I’ve never seen Blu without an ear-to-ear grin on his face, or watched him turn a blind eye to dap. I’ve never seen Ta’Raach stress over stage time or wristbands. But I have seen both dudes give love where love is given, take time for those who ask for it and laugh full-bodied at each other’s jokes as well as their own.
“Yooooo!” Ta’Raach gave me with a hug when I ran into him and Blu on another night. “Blu told me you were here, but I didn’t believe him.”
“Why wouldn’t you believe him?” I asked.
“Because Blu lies all the time.”
“Whaaaat?” said Blu, giving the “Who, me?” side smile.
“You do!” said Ta’Raach. “Blu lies, like, for fun. Just to see if he can.”
“Nah, I do not!” said Blu.
“Quit lying. You lying right now!”
“Man!” I said. “I told Blu I’m ready to do this interview when you are. I want to talk about ‘Cotton’.”
“Oh shit! You want to talk about ‘Cotton’?? We can talk about ‘Cotton’!”
“Cotton” is a joint toward the end of The Piece Talks that features a heated Ta’Raach spouting pointed spoken-word. He told me via email that the monologue was inspired in part by an infamous Spike Lee montage.
“I felt like the way the parts in Do The Right Thing were written allowed room for poetry cadence but with a Hip-Hop impact,” Ta’Raach stated. “So we toyed with the idea a little and this is what we came with… ‘Cotton’ is about the people still living in the dark, thinking that they getting away with something when they flash the facade. It’s from all angles — mine and Blu’s as the artists, participants and fans, and then the record label’s standpoint as well.”
My curiosity piqued, I asked him to be more specific about who the the track is dedicated to…
“Big Fizzers. You know, people talkin all big about they hustle but always fuck it upâ€¦ Gettin paid from livin vicariously… makin all our jobs harder… All Judases, runnin around like ‘Represent! Represent!’ with no loyalties… Self-proclaimed heroes, with different lifestyles altogether, trying to Martin-Luther-King the hood up. Here’s my advice to y’all: Step 1. Experience is the best teacher, so pay attention. Step 2. Objectify ya own struggles first. Step 3. Swagger. Then come holla at me… It’s amazing how that with all the time that has passed in the universe, We still gotta resort to some low shit to get by.”
Big Fizzers or not, it doesn’t matter who hates on The Piece Talks because at the end of the day, C.R.A.C. put together a project that defies past expectations and draws new ones for future artists. They sound nothing like any run-of-the-mill, 1-2-3-4, fast-tap-hi-hat, talk-box blabber, cheap synth, hit makers. They’re wax scratch, live hi-hat, eclectic electric, instrumental anthological, wave makers.
My bias is obviously in their favor — I like Ta’Raach and Blu as people and I do little shuffles when I see them. I would go to bat for C.R.A.C. and their music faster than for 99.9 percent of all other artists out there. But that comes not from my bias, but rather from their adding light to an industry saturated in the dark of sameness. They war against a market blanketed in Big Fizzers.
And for that, I’d do a little dance any day.