April 22nd, 2008 | Interviews

Dan Monick

C.R.A.C. “Respect”


Blu and Ta’Raach recorded the C.R.A.C. tracks in one lockout session where all the food was eaten on the first day. They have just been re-released as The Piece Talks on Tres. Blu and Ta’Raach speak over pasta and salad at Brite Spot.

What happened between the C.R.A.C. recording in 2005 and the C.R.A.C. release now?
Ta’Raach: The Fevers. Poverty. You sit down in front of that beat machine! I think you gotta have some money before you wanna sit and make beats. With no money, you sit there. When you have some money, you’re like, ‘I want more money!’ When you have no money, you’re like, ‘Fuck that shit! That’s how I got here to begin with.’
Blu, do you still ride that ten-speed?
Blu: That’s Exile’s. But I’m thinking about buying that off him.
When is the first episode of the C.R.A.C. cartoon?
B: It’s gonna be dope—actually, we appeared in a cartoon before.
T: Off the record.
An adult cartoon?
B: No, but it gave me the idea that we gotta do a cartoon. Then NBC wanted a reality show.
Is it true that tape only sold twenty copies?
T: Yeah, and I sold ten of them, and that’s it. Press a CD? We weren’t thinking about that. We pressed twenty tapes, and went to the club, and Dwele got ten and I got ten.
B: That’s dope—is that the one I got?
T: You ain’t got the tape. It’s what you been listening to, yeah, but you ain’t got the tape. Nobody has the tape.
When was the first time you were in the same room?
T: Because of Aloe fucking Blacc—you can quote me on that. That’s where we met. Blu was mad because I made him do his verse over. ‘Yeah, that’s dope. Say that verse.’ ‘I’m Blu, something-something…’ ‘Yeah, that’s cool—dope verse. Do it again with some more emotion.’ And he looked at me for a minute.
How did that evolve into your current level of rapport?
T: It started off like the way most relationships between men start—some bitches. We did that session and then interacted loosely. I’d be somewhere with a chick, and he’d be with a chick that knew her, and we’d interact. ‘Hey. Hi. You still doing songs? Yeah. Ok. Bye.’
B: Then I started doing my research. I used to flip his lines.
Where did the girls go?
T: They dropped out at the same point all bitches drop out: ‘This is too much! I got a life to live! No!’ And then you be like, ‘Damn, what happened to that guy Blu?’ And when did we start bumping into each other aside from that? We were like, ‘We should do a lock-in,’ and then it just happened.
B: I don’t even remember if we were trying to do an album. It was something—we filmed it all, but I haven’t watched the footage in some time.
T: I had little drinks in the fridge, snack food—they smashed that shit in the first two hours. It was supposed to last for a week. I ain’t no fucking vending machine! Show some respect—it’s gotta last. But the best part for me was on day six—I discovered how we could change the world with music. Or instead of feeling like we could, I felt like we had. With the music we recorded. We were trying to move strategically off what we’d already cut, instead of randomly—I stood back and listened and thought, ‘I have never heard anything like this ever!’ Nothing remotely similar. From there—we were just family. We walked in not knowing shit and walked out blood. Family. Friends. I talk shit to him and he laughs at me. That’s pretty much it.
B: And on day eight I went to Europe.
T: And I went to Pasadena.
Are you covering a Paul McCartney song?
B: I don’t know what that’s about.
T: I do. You don’t wanna talk about that? Where’s Paul McCartney live? I just don’t want him to be living in L.A. and think, ‘Oh, shit, I should sue for that.’
We’ll spell his name wrong online.
T: Paul McCarthany. But I really am a Paul McCartney fan. I started to get up on his music—everyone talks about the Beatles, but back to the producer copping the 99-cent records in the rock section… I was like, ‘Man, he’s got dope shit I’ve never heard anybody fuck with.’ He had open drums, so I chopped them up, and chopped up his singing and put that in there. That was quick—ten minutes! And that’s on an Erykah Badu record. But it kept sitting there—that song was so ill, so I stripped the singing and replayed the whole shit live, and Blu sang it off a dare, and off a dare I sang guitar on it. He’s like ‘I’ll do it if you do it,’ and I just did it. Kind of a one-taker.
Is that the quickest C.R.A.C. song?
T: Nah. ‘Buy Me Lunch.’
B: Everything on the spot.
T: That’s how you know it’s really good. Put this on record—
B: Unless I say no.
T: Blu had a show, and a porn star which he’s a fan of, and which is a fan of his shit, came to his show. Which happened to happen a few weeks after he decided he had a little lady friend. Life is kind of reflective—you see how ill you are by how life tests you. I’m not sure if I had a little lady and Adina Jewel comes out and is like, ‘So what’s up? We should exchange numbers—’
So what did you do?
B: Introduced her to my lady.
T: You can write ‘panic.’ That’s panic. I’d have been like, ‘Go get me a drink.’
B: I was getting her a drink. And my lady walked up.
T: First, you six-four with a big-ass afro. You can’t hide.
Did you ever pass that test?
T: I kind of did once. What’s that chick’s name? Cinnamon? I was at a Rich Medina show at the Conga Room—you know Cinnamon? Woo, she crazy! She had a breast job and it brought her down kind of a ways. Her face—it’s kind of a jalopy, like it used to be dope but it got crashed up. But I went to see Rich Medina and I didn’t realize she was there to see him—not to see him DJ but to SEE him. And I was shook! So I can relate. I never felt like a fan in my life, but right now I am the biggest fan on earth. So I did what fans do—I actually went and told her. ‘Excuse me…’ I couldn’t believe I was that close—she was looking in my eyes! Not in the camera on a screen—my eyes! I said, ‘Yo, I’m a big fan of what you do. You do your job. You’re good.’ I said it just like stumbling and fumbling, and got ready to turn away, and she was like, ‘Thank you!’ and had her hand on my shoulder. So I just had to stay. And I felt uncomfortable and got ready to leave again, and she was like, ‘Rick Medina is really good!’ And she kept saying stuff! ‘There’s an afterhours party—are you going?’ And I had to really determine—but Rich got done DJing and she ran and gave him a hug. I can’t compete with that! She followed him around the whole club. The next day I saw him walking down Melrose, and I walked down the street and like two stores down she was coming out. Ah! Caught you! He was there with her—the morning after! I still woulda did it, though.
What’s the last thing you missed out on you wish you hadn’t?
T: What do you regret? That’s a tough one.
B: I regret I didn’t get Co$$ on Below The Heavens. That’s about it.
T: I regret not making the bad-ass chick—not sticking with her when I was a kid, and I should have proposed. Well, I shouldn’t say that—somebody might read it. I regret—damn! I don’t believe in regrets.
What happened the last time you were hanging out in the Swiss Alps?
T: On the record? I was with Gilles Peterson, and I didn’t know who the fuck he was, and he was telling me about Medina Green—‘This is Mos Def’s new group—it’s really hot!’ The Montreaux Jazz Fest, and I was sitting there—‘You want a mimosa?’ ‘What’s in it?’ ‘Alcohol.’ ‘I don’t drink liquor.’ I was so clean! I just had orange juice, but in a champagne glass. He told me he discovered Incognito—but I was only into Premier, A Tribe Called Quest—he taught me a lot of shit right there at the table. I just built that relationship. You want a regret? I’m kind of a whore. Kind of. You know? A regret about something I didn’t do with a female?
B: I missed out on a threesome.
T: Tell that story—I forgot about that shit. I never fucked up that bad.
B: It was his fault.
T: Bullshit! He was in the room an hour and a half—why did nothing happen in an hour and a half? Not my fault. If you old enough to go to the club, you know after the club is the after party. There ain’t no warm up.
B: The after party is the hotel lobby. Raach was hosting, Waajeed was spinning, and these two girls in the audience were looking at me, and when the promoter walks away, they walk up. She told me that was her ex. So we went downstairs with home girl to her room and smoke and drank—I was already drunk—I was nervous because I didn’t know both of them were down, and I got really fucked up and finally started kissing them.
T: Check out the kissing part, man. Please check out the kissing part. ‘I was kissing these whores I met in Spain at the afterparty.’ Don’t say that, man! You wonder why your mind don’t work right!
B: She was sucking my fingers while I was kissing her—that’s when you knocked on the door!
T: Take out the kissing part—I have a group with him! Knocked on the door—that’s so lame!
B: He was like, ‘We got to take pictures right now,’ and I was like ‘Oh man, come on!’ and shit, and he was like ‘No.’ So I was like, ‘I’ll be back later. You gonna be here?’ They said yeah. And they wasn’t there. But I was all happy to take pictures. In all the pictures I got big-ass smiles. So wide. Niggas all tired. But I’m smiling.