The Notorious B.I.G. first went by Biggie Smalls. Jazzy turned into Jay-Z, which then turned into Jay Z. Nas stepped up his hygiene regime and dropped Nasty.
As artists evolve and mature professionally and personally, their aliases sometimes become a symbol of that change. Or sometimes someone has the same or a similar name, as was the case with 23-year-old Palm Beach rapper Croosh.
"Since I was doing a lot of shows, everyone used to confuse my name Crucial Conflict, which is a rap crew out of Chicago, and it started getting a little annoying, especially off fliers and at shows when people would mess up my name," said Croosh. "My buddy Shawn Wayne and a bunch of other people, instead of calling me Crucial, used to just call me Croosh for short. So, I changed up the spelling into the 'Cruc' to 'Croosh,' or Croosh like the Nike swoosh is how I let people remember it, because I thought it was more original."
After three projects, with the release of his latest, Cloudless Night,, and preparing for his fourth, the rapper took some time out of his trip up to Gainesville to talk to us about Crucial Chaotic, Cloudless Night, Crash Bandicoot, and more.
New Times: Talk to me about Crucial Chaotic.
Croosh: That name originally started as Crucial back in the MySpace days and a label that me and one of my buddies, Jose Diaz, started with Chaotic Family. So on MySpace, my name was Crucial, and in parenthesis Chaotic Family. But when it came to Facebook, and that came to light, my name on Facebook, I wanted to be Crucial, and in parentheses, Chaotic Family, but they wouldn't let me put Family as my last name and Chaotic as my middle name. So I ended up just putting Crucial Chaotic. And then it just kind of stuck from there. And my first EP, Fresh From The Ziploc, I went under that alias, Crucial Chaotic. Kind of stuck with me, and I did shows for about a year as Crucial Chaotic.
Why did you choose to do Cloudless Night only with Danny Dee?
Well, including my first two projects, I like to do EPs or LPs with one producer because I feel like it's more of an organic feel. Danny Dee reached out to me a couple of years back and wanted to work on some stuff with me, and I gathered beats for about a year and a half with him, and we just chopped it up. And I thought that as a young producer coming up in Palm Beach I'd love to work with someone local cause I hadn't yet, and I think his beats are at a caliber that secede a lot of other producers out there.
You also work with Christian Hernandez and Golden Underground.
I met Christian three years ago I want to say or two and a half years ago at a show, and A3C Festival was coming up and I saw him with a camera, and I was like, "Hey, you want to go up to Atlanta with me?" This was a couple years back, and I barely knew him, but he seemed like a good kid. He definitely knows his music. He was like, "Yeah, I just started a blog site, Golden Underground. Let's shoot up some interviews." We shot some interviews up there in Atlanta, came back, and since then we've just been best buds. I used to write articles for Golden Underground as well, and we've put on a couple showcases together where we've brought Skyzoo down, we brought Nitty Scott down.
What's your beef with white rappers or white people in general?
(Laughs) That's funny. It's just me going on Twitter rants. I really don't like corny, white voices in hip-hop. I originally went into hip-hop as Crucial and Crucial Chaotic. I was into a lot of hardcore rap like Jedi Mind Tricks and such. It's just certain people, I won't mention any names, but there's certain people, white rappers that I really just think they're so corny. There's 18-, 19-year-olds that hit me up on Facebook, white rappers with the most terrible voice I've ever heard in my life. I got on rants about it, but I got respect for a lot of white rappers. It's not in general. I just make stuff up sometimes, though. I think it's funny too. And I think it's ironic, me being a white rapper, hating other white rappers.
Describe the amount of effort it takes for an artist trying to make it out of Palm Beach.
I think it takes an incredible amount of endurance and longevity to try to make it as an artist out of Palm Beach. Artists such as Will Brennan, who's signed to Steve Aoki's label, is originally from Palm Beach, and Eric Biddines, who's getting a lot of looks right now from Complex magazine and such, is also another artist from Palm Beach that I really respect and acknowledge, those two especially. It takes a lot of work ethic. Takes a lot of different shows spreading your name and building a brand. I think both of them have successfully done that with successful managers as well. I'm self-managed. It takes a lot of work and a lot of connections. Just building with as many people as possible.
How much of your time as a kid was spend playing Crash Bandicoot?
(Laughs) Quite a bit actually. One of my favorite games for Playstation and Playstation 2 definitely is Crash Bandicoot. I'm also a huge Twisted Metal fan, but Crash Bandicoot is my heart. I look at myself as kind of like a crazy animal similar to that, say like, exotic. I'm not your typical rapper, and I don't think the bandicoot is a typical animal you'll see everyday. I gravitate towards him as a character. And I also got a couple of Crash Bandicoot samples flipped by a couple different producers right now for a project called Crash Bandicoot.
You're about to drop Luftmensch in April. What's the reason for the quick turn-around?
I really enjoy Cloudless Night, and I had been working on the project for around two and a half years, and so I felt that was long overdue to put out, and I needed to put that out, and I think the time was right when I released it. I got a couple videos probably being shot soon. One for "O.E." and the other one for "Silver Moon." And so just trying to get that done and now the fact that it's out, it was more of something I needed, just therapeutic, very therapeutic for me. As far as Luftmensch goes, I probably have two other EPs that I'll be releasing after that. I'm trying to build up my collection of music. I want to be the most versatile artist period.
The definition of "luftmensch" is an impractical, contemplative person with little to no means of income. And I feel that's the complete definition of a rapper and what my parents think a rapper is. And so, with that project, I'm just going to be spitting a lot of raps. It's not going to be as conceptual. I want to fall into the stereotype of being a rapper who just spits bars, and I feel like it's just a whole different side of my music, just having a good time rapping. I feel like a lot of people have kind of lost that love for rap and really looked for more substance.
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter: @LeeMCastro
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