Greenville Indie Fest: Crocker – Catharsis

Greenville Indie Fest: Crocker – Catharsis

More than thirty years since the birth of hip-hop, the white rapper’s plight in a black culture has lingered like a chronic itch. The more it is scratched, the further the issue lives on until, one hopes, it is alleviated by common sense.

Whether it’s his vocabulary or the enunciation of his r’s, South Carolina rapper Crocker drags his whiteness throughout the album, Catharsis. His slang and twang are comparable to that of Paul Wall’s, which makes good and perfect sense, being they’re both from the south. On “South Carolina (remix)” (just in case any listener on Earth has heard its original), Crocker gives a shout-out to the textile mills, a thriving industry in his home state. If Paul Wall were from the Palmetto State as well, he may have given the same dedication—but most likely not. In the album, Crocker uses the word “excavate,” a good choice for an article in National Geographic but a bad one for something that attempts to sound hip-hop. An emcee is better off keeping his verb syllables to a minimum; otherwise Jay-Z would be freestyling about philandering someone else’s wife.

Perhaps Crocker looks beyond credibility in the streets. After all, street cred is only one element, as is a verse and a chorus. Good hip-hop infuses every element just right. 50 Cent may be known for his hooks but not his verses. As for Crocker, he may not be remembered for his choruses. The one on “The Devil Is Dope” can spoil the chance of a repeated listening. The rapper singing the chorus seldom works in hip-hop anyway, with the exception to Pharrell. At least on “Stereotype”—another head-slapper—the chorus is handled by this month’s Adele admirer.

Another problem with Catharsis is its lazy production, something that was beheld as a sure shot weakness 20 years ago. Sure, Pete Rock may have slipped into slumber once or twice—the same with Dre, RZA or Premier—but the production on Catharsis emulates the worst that the said kings have mistakenly offered. Finding the perfect loop to the drums and then letting the beat coast for four minutes during a coffee break can rarely promise a good result. A notable hip-hop producer will show his listener the minimum respect of implementing an introduction and a coda of some sort, not just a flat ride to an uninspired fadeout.

By the end of this independent release, Crocker still manages to make his presence felt, though, even if the production dilutes his message. “A Note for Ray”, a song about his bipolar friend, would work; except the beat belongs on Mars, whereas Crocker’s story is firmly gravitated on Earth. Either Crocker has to fine-tune his ear for beats or this really is Mars, and “Stairway To Heaven” sounds just as cathartic in a beatbox.

{We spoke to Crocker for a few minutes. Here is what he had to say…}

What is the hip-hop scene like in the upstate of SC?

It’s there. It’s kept very below the radar because of people’s perception of what hip-hop is. That often mistakenly want to juxtapose us next to rap…and trust and believe there’s a huge difference. But because of that albatross they hang unfairly on our necks, we’re left with a lack of venues. There’s a plethora of dope talent though. I promote a healthy portion through my record label, Lovelorn Records. Then you have a group like the U.N.I.T. fronted by Katalyst & Rick Somethin’ out of Greenville along with legends like Projekt Lotus & The LoneGunmen. So-Hi out of Greenwood is another. Shaun Sluggs & Flawless out of Spartanburg are a couple of more.

You work with a bunch of different producers on Catharsis. How do all the different styles and personalities come together?

Chemistry. Building a background through fellowship with one another first. I got to know every producer personally I worked with on the project before we worked together. I find that to be very key actually. Once we have a better understanding of the other’s aesthetic, we can then begin to create together confidently.
You were originally slated to play another local festival, and something went down to have you removed from the line up. Can you tell us your side of the story?
My friend & business partner, Justin Tripam (DJ Nuvo) has done alot of work with the city of Spartanburg with him DJing a bevy of city functions. He was offered the spot for Spring Fling DJ and the opportunity to help book acts. He approached me with the idea of me and my labelmates performing at the function four weeks out from the starting date. He told me he has to have a music listening session with Jane Warner & Mandy Merck of the City of Spartanburg festival planning committee before he can get the contracts. He does as such, I assume it goes well, because with 2 weeks to go we’re approached with contracts for Hillary Keane, Katalyst, & myself. We all signed and started preparing for the show. With a week to go I received a phone call from Mrs. Warner saying she had received a disheartening email from a local parent expressing concern for the fact that I would be allowed to perform. We talked at length about the issue and I reassured her that I would hold to my contract and give a family-friendly performance. The following Monday, which was 5 days before the event, I was informed that I was being let go by Justin. When I asked why, I was told that a high ranking official on behalf of First Baptist Downtown had sent a follow-up email stating that if I was allowed to perform, my performance would be picketed.
You’re the lone emcee in the lineup for Greenville Indie Fest. Are you ready for Greenville, and is Greenville ready for you?
Oh yeah. Greenville’s a second home. Unless Greenville First Baptist takes issues. Then all bets are off. Bring the kids down Greenville, I’ll teach em critical thinking. Marxism. And who knows….maybe even some hip-hop.

WORDKRAPHT Rating: 3 Stars



Album Name: Catharsis
Release Date: May, 2012
Genre: Hip-Hop
Location: Spartanburg, SC
Band Members: Crocker