Hip hop is easily the most creative and most expressive subculture today. No
other music since b-bop has provided artists the ability to explore an infinite
number of sounds and themes. But, if your choice of ‘hip hop’ is limited to Rick
Ross, Nikki Minaj, 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa, you wouldn’t know that. This ‘pop
hop’ is extremely narrow in musical production and lyrical content and delivery.
However, if you defy the corporate rap industry juggernaut and listen to true
artistry and crave real emceeing, then you know that the music of hip hop is
among the most important being produced in the world today. If you forgot or
don’t know about the importance of hip hop worldwide, its true artistry or its
potential to be the soundtrack to a global movement, then Krazy Race’s The
International Project is here to remind you. And even more importantly, this
music bangs. Krazy Race and guest emcees spit fire and deliver one heater after
another. This cd is too important to miss. Everyone needs to pick it up. I
especially encourage pop hop corporate rap stars to buy several copies and learn
about true hip hop from the street.
Krazy Race’s label, Realizm Rekords,
dropped the 25-track compact disc (enough for a double cd or two-volume set) in
late 2012 just in time to celebrate the coming of the Sixth Sun and the new
world it promises to bring. The cd signals what might be coming in the next age
as the veteran Los Angeles underground emcee teams up with an international cast
of producers. The producers of The International Project come from 16 different
countries including Spain, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Slovakia, India, and Colombia.
Krazy Race also teams up with a number of different emcees from across the
country who deliver gems on their guest verses.
A large number of
producers, emcees, singers and/or guest musicians involved in a project often
creates an incoherent product that is ‘all over the place’ in terms of its
sound, style and themes. However, Krazy Race’s strength as an emcee and
executive producer who knows how to bring a project from start to finish holds
this cd together. The tracks that he chose to rhyme to have commonalities that
reflect the themes he examines in his lyrics. Krazy Race develops three main
lyrical themes: aggression and bravado; relationships; and politics, power and
resistance. He does this through great storytelling and extended metaphors. The
compact disc is always serious with musical production that relies on eerie,
synthesizer-heavy music over bass drums.
Many songs elicit a sense of
danger through the use of European classical music that might serve as the
soundtrack to movie thrillers. The producers incorporate operatic and symphonic
sounds throughout to increase the sense of danger and elicit an emotional
response. The musical production on this cd is exploding with creativity. This
is not the same ol thing that is being played on the radio today. Highlights
from the cd include the following:
--Besides Krazy Race’s intelligent
and mature lyrics and great storytelling, producer, elespecialista from Spain
provides the best moments of the cd. He produced seven tracks. Track four,
“Beats, Bars and Spit,” is a street hop anthem. It shows off Krazy Race’s flow
and rhyme skills. He defines hip hop and his place in it as a West Coast,
specifically, Los Angeles emcee. In addition to K.R.’s verse, Pawz One and
Destruct add fiery guest spots. InDJnous adds perfectly executed scratches.
Elespecialista also produced “Murder Fest.” I-Man adds a hard-spit, fast rhyme
to the hard-driving beat. On “Guns, Bullets, and Kevlar” he does it again. He
puts together hard-driving drums with a mesmerizing piano melody that is perfect
for Krazy Race and Sporty Loco’s song about a major armed robbery of “one of the
biggest landmarks in LA.” They tell a detailed story about how “Mr. Candelaria”
puts a team of specialists together to pull off a heist including a shootout
with over 50 police officers. This is classic hip hop storytelling. On
“Reflections” elespecialista uses a haunting piano melody to set the tone for
the dark message of self-reflection with a special emphasis on pain and danger.
Vic Garcia adds a throaty, screaming vocal performance. His brilliant work
illustrates a fusion between the rebel cultures of hip hop and metal. “The
Journey” joins Krazy Race and Ricasshay and amazing drum tracks from
elespecialista. The beautifully sung chorus delivers the interesting idea that
“there’s a place in the sun for anyone who has the will to chase one.”
--Track 6, “L.L.U.H.H.,” is another anthem song in which Krazy Race and
guests Godilla and Lil Race pay homage to underground hip hop. Once again Krazy
Race takes a stand as an independent/underground, non-corporate emcee. His hip
hop comes organically from the streets of L.A. not from the offices of record
--“Gladiators” features a raw Spanish language verse from
Abusivo. MCM from Slovakia sets the tone with the use of synthesized violin
sounds. On this track Krazy Race details a battle in which he “bows down to no
one.” It’s a track about triumph over difficult odds.
producer, XFA7 uses church bells, gongs, record scratches and high-whiny
synthesizer melodies and sounds to develop a sense of urgency and excitement on
the fast-paced, “Black Out.” The emcees including guests I-Suppose and Mesidge
speak about battle and warfare.
--“You Never Know” is a song of the
arrival of death from many angles. It is supported by another mesmerizing piano
melody; this time producer Wierdo from Italy is responsible for the great music.
--The synthesized, operatic singing is a highlight of the song,
“Chemtrails.” Krazy Race explains at the end of the song that the haunting
singing is Mother Earth crying out due to the pain she is suffering from
corporate and political greed. The song is about the mysterious white trails
that we often see in our skies. These chemical trails are believed to be highly
toxic. Krazy Race provides a number of important facts and ideas related to
these chemtrails and other environmental problems including accusing the most
powerful agricultural corporation in the world, Monsanto, of being a drug
dealer. Audio clips of experts on chemtrails at the close of the song confirm
Krazy Race’s analysis.
--Krazy Race tells another great story on “Love
Gone Wrong.” This time the story is about betrayal by a lover. A highlight is
Nancy Ocampo’s beautifully sung chorus.
--Children’s humming emphasizes
the heartful nature of “From the Heart.” Krazy Race offers us a spiritual with
this song of gratitude and prayer for a better world. Diamonique adds a layer of
complexity to this introspective song.
--Skinny Beats from Japan uses a
rock guitar solo and dRumRap from All Else Fails rocks LIVE drums to form the
unique musical foundation on “Master of Ceremonies ” for Krazy Race to rhyme
--Gremlin, Top Dime and Mexicali team up with Krazy Race to tell a
great story of a gang of Western desperados on “Desperado.” Queen of the mic,
Top Dime, spits a great multilingual, mostly spanglish verse. This song and
“Guns, Bullets, and Kevlar” are as vivid examples of storytelling as the best
action movies from Hollywood. And they bang!
You will want to listen to
this cd over and over again. There is so much going on from complex and unique
musical production to great metaphors and stories that you will want to
continuously “rewind” songs. The cd is not only enjoyable; it is important. This
is the type of music true hip hop headz are looking for. It is only the
independent and underground who are providing us with the musical sustenance
that headz and hip hop require in order to survive.
Review by: Pancho
Associate Professor of Sociology at Chicago State University
Author of Chicano Rap: Gender and Violence in the Postindustrial Barrio
(University of Texas Press, 2008) & The Chican@ Hip Hop Nation: Politics of
a New Millennial Mestizaje Coming Soon (Michigan State University, 2013).