C.R.A.C. – The Piece Talks (Tres Records)

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Hailing from motor city Detroit, C.R.A.C. (pronounced “crass“, to quote: “it ain”t crack, its C.R.A.C, bitch!; means Collect Respect An’a Check – they want yo’ money and yo’ love, fool!) bring together a wide range of street and hip-hop rants to their latest release, The Piece Talks. From fun, funky breaks to the musically and thematically harder end of the spectrum C.R.A.C. make learning serious street lessons funner than a brass knuckle to the eye.

The album opens with a thank you and welcome and kicks into a summer vibe, guitar-strummed little ditty called “Buy Me Lunch” with what sounds like a nine-year-old singing the hook about muckin” around, eatin” food. Despite its obvious cuteness the song seems like an anti-homosexual rant, with lyrics running something like “have fun and play/don’ be gay/don’ act like no sissy, boy. Other tracks are classic hip-hop, all street-fights, working out how to play “the game.” Emcee Blu and emcee/producer Ta’Raach owe a huge debt to De La Soul’ bright summer afternoon fun, the disc replete with skits, telephone messages and words from crazed radio-host. A lot of Outkast’s love of love and loco-motion runs through too, but Blu and Ta’ are still street. Like on “Pop Dem Boyz” where they lay down threats, curses and yo’ usual gangsta shit: “Lovelution – stop that noise/don’ make me have to pop dem boys.” Calling out fakes, phonies and anyone pretending like they know what the city is and can do to you along the horny, heavy basslines and beats.

The Piece Talks doesn’ break too much new ground though. The album could have been made five, ten, fifteen years ago and it wouldn’ have stood out too much then. Blu and Ta’Raach are audacious, they’ve got the swagger but it doesn’ get used to any particularly blazing potential.

Joel Hedrick

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