Meet Crown, Your New Favorite SoCal Rapper

Categories: interview

Photo provided by management.
Crown's on a mission to spread positivity and gratitude with All Rise, his debut album that transforms hip-hop into something for everyone.

While his previous work focused on beats and lyrics, Crown now draws energy through a live band. He credits his new style with having "different ideas and different sounds, with a much more positive message".

Crown's vocals evoke the confident, enunciated style of Jay Z, offset by humble originality and relatable lyrical references. Instead of rapping about bottles and bitches, Crown gives thanks to U.S. troops and encourages philanthropy in his verses.

The positive messages are subtle, as to not suck the fun out of rap music. Crown exhibits a sense of loyalty, not sanctity: there's a track titled 'Fukkit', after all.

The first track, "All Hail Now," sets the tone as a larger-than-life, Big Apple anthem; "Roam," a piano-accentuated, summer song with a beachy chorus follows. The upbeat tempo and catchy hooks of tracks like "Quicksand" and "Turnaround" echo the energy of Motown through the eyes of 90s acts like Beck and Fatboy Slim. (You'll be surprised at what this 90s music aficionado admitted was on his iPod).

Here's what the artist had to say about his time serving in the military, opening for Lil' Kim, and his goal to avoid the stigma of being a "bling bling, I-rule-it-all" hip hop artist.

OC Weekly (Jena Ardell): How long did you serve in the Air Force and what ultimately made you want to enlist?

Crown: I served nine years in the Air Force. What made me want to enlist was I really wanted to get out of the street. I didn't want to be in the streets anymore. I just wanted a different outlook, period, on where I wanted to go with my life, so I joined the Air Force. That's when everything just aligned itself [in my life].

We actually plan on touring for the troops real soon. Some of the songs on the album kind of gear towards the troops and those who are overseas and things like that.

You've opened for a long list of big names (Lil Kim, Naughty By Nature, Fat Joe, Black Sheep, Ying Yang Twins, KRS One, Black Wall Street, Maino, Mims, N.O.R.E., Fabolous, Trey Songz, Big Pun). What was your favorite experience?

It's a tie between Lil' Kim (at the Key Club in Hollywood) and Fabolous and Trey Songz (in Harrisburg, PA). Both of those were my biggest shows. They both had a huge impact on my music moving forward. It was around the time when I was thinking 'should I really pursue this full-speed or should I take my time and just wait?' But those two shows really catapulted me to where I am now, to the point of 'keep going'.

Did you learn any particular industry or life lessons from the experiences you had while opening for the larger acts?

I would say the energy of being there [influenced me] and performing in front of people I didn't know. It's easy to get a whole bunch of your friends together and just perform for them; y'know, that's easy work. I wanted to perform in front of people who didn't know my music, who I didn't know. From those two shows, I generated a certain buzz... and I just kept going from there.

Did you have a mentor or someone who really encouraged you during that time?

Not necessarily a mentor, but when I ran into a good friend of mine, Phil Lawrence, who works with Bruno Mars, [that pushed me forward]. He heard my stuff and loved it and just was like, "I think your stuff can be bigger." Once he told me that, he put me in line with my [current management] and ever since I've been there, I've been learning something new every day.

Even if people aren't initially familiar with you, I'm certain they've heard "Can't Stop Me" on the Geico commercial. What was it like to hear your song on a national television commercial for the first time?

I think I saw it one time, but it's starting to re-air again, so that's a good thing. To be honest, it's unreal. I woke up one morning to go to work, and turned on SportsCenter--like I normally do--and the next thing you know, I see is this lizard on the Brooklyn Bridge, and I'm like... wait, a minute, that's me. It was crazy, it was definitely crazy.

We have two Amsterdam Vodka spots that are airing right now, actually. And before that, there a Taco Bell commercial. We did Big Poppa in Spanish [as a tribute to the Notorious B.I.G.]. It was right around Super Bowl time, that was pretty cool too.

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