Crosby: Crosling No More

I've been writing for OK-Tho for a little over a year now. Two months into that year, I saw a tweet from some Soundcloud rapper saying how he wanted to be interviewed because he had a lot to say. By this time I had already done two whole other interviews - I was essentially a pro - so I called his bluff. Anyone who says they have a lot to say had better have a lot to say. I didn't think he would respond but he did and we set up the interview. Truth be told he didn't have that much to say, but any words is a lot of words when you are talking with Crosby, unless he's gassed up and on Twitter.

In that interview, I hit the baby Crosling with some basic background questions about the path he took to becoming a hip hopper. Back then, he was talking about how he didn't hit his stride until Thrill City 2 and how the forthcoming Cool Ass Life would mark the beginning of a higher level of excellence from him. He has since taken Cool Ass Life off of Soundcloud. Luckily, he seems to have left Thrill City 2 up on audiomack so be sure to listen to that while you still can. Clearly, a lot has changed since then.

Crosby's official catalog currently includes just two albums, The Crosby Show and the recently released Crosfather. While Crosby may have claimed that he hit his stride on Thrill City 2, I think with Cool Ass Life he was still getting familiar with himself as an artist. So, as of now, one might argue that Crosby didn't really hit his stride until The Crosby Show. But even saying that may be misguided as two projects down the line when Crosby's still progressing, we will be saying he didn't hit his stride until Probable Cros (I'm still holding out hope that thats the name of his next album).

Regardless, as of now, The Crosby Show is Crosby's debut and, as a result, was structured as such. It had a couple features but focused primarily on showcasing the versatility of Crosby's sound by having him deliver a diversity of flows over different producer's beats. The standout tracks from the project were all produced by Lentra. So, with his debut out of the way, Crosby elected to work exclusively with Lentra on his sophomore project to explore the limits of the duo.

Enter Crosfather. All the production is done by Lentra The Gawd (except the last track, Crosby was very adamant that he helped produce "Jagged"). Like any project worth a damn, Crosfather is strategically balanced. There are tracks critiquing society, tracks repping his hometown, tracks about his rap excellence, and tracks that play off the project's theme. And then the rest of it is pretty much about drinking. But, as you'll read in the interview, Crosby makes an effort to expose the ugly reality of drinking and drugging rather than glamorize it. Suffice it to say that lyrically, Crosby hit all the hip hop bases.

Since my last interview with Crosby was decimated by his decision to take off all his old material, I thought it was time to link up with The Great once again. Our conversation was focused primarily on Crosfather; the creative process behind it, the intended meaning of some of the most potent lines, and a little bit about the lack of explicit sub-genres in hip hop. It's Croseason, enjoy.

You’ve been working with Lentra for a while now but never before to this degree. How was it collaborating with Lentra for a full-fledged project?

Crosby: It was perfect. Lentra has really brought me to the next level with his production, there's just something about his beats that fits my style. Originally, The Crosby Show was gonna be all Lentra but there were so many producers giving me beats we decided to hold off. With Crosfather, I pretty much cut off everybody to work exclusively with Lentra because he wants the same success as I do.

Walk me through a typical day spent working on Crosfather.

Crosby: Get up, go to school and work until around 6. Then I sit down and go through beats and come up with flows in my head. Once I'm really feeling a beat, I'll start writing to it and tell Lentra I'm writing to it. I'll record it and mix it and send it to Lentra and if he likes it he'll send me the stems so I can do the final mix downs. As time goes by you learn a lot of different techniques when writing or recording so when I learn something new, I might incorporate it in songs I already recorded.

Which track do you think showcases your flow best?

Crosby: Damn, that's a hard one. I have so many different flows so I can't pick just one. Probably the Crosfather "Intro," "Pimp And A Preacher," and "27514" b.

What’s the hardest bar you drop on the project?

Crosby: "Henny on the fly jottin' concepts, feelin' like I'm Mutant Academy" or "still my ex's favorite rapper"

On “The Mob” you say “I know I need to fight the man but them lyrics ain’t in demand.” Tell me more about your desire to write conscious lyrics and the pressure you feel to do the opposite.

Crosby: I actually got the idea for that line listening to Vince Staples when he said, "I need to fight the power but I need that new Ferrari." I was like damn that shit hits. Most rappers that care about the art want to say conscious shit, nobody I know loves making club bangers 24/7, but the normal person doesn't want to be lectured by a dude on the mic for a whole project. So finding that middle ground is important.

Is that why you save most of your lecturing for "Enlighten"? You have the lines “the government bastardizing a pigment,” “niggas dying on the streets over designs up on their feet,” “half the day faded and sedated is the way it go.” Tell me more about the concepts you address on that track.

Crosby: I just heard the beat and said, "I gotta say something meaningful on this." And those are things I talk about a lot but the project was missing that substance. TPAB is one of my favorite albums ever and the way Kendrick addresses problems within the black community is riveting. So those three lines sum up all the problems. The "man" fucks us over but there's deeper problems within the community that need to be addressed like frivolous violence and drugs dictating people. It's not cool to do drugs but, it numbs you. Every time I talk about alcohol and drug use I don't glamorize it, I tell it like it is and the effects it has on me and the people around me.

Yeah, you do rap about the negative sides of drinking, you even say at one point you have the liver of a sixty-year-old. But, I was wondering, you are rolling through the liquor store and have $20 dollars to spend, what do you buy?

Crosby: Shiiiiit if I got 20$ in my pocket and my tank is full I'm hittin' up the liquor store and getting some E&J XO for $16 then I might cop some blacks from the gas station but I'm trying to cut back on those. If I already got some liquor I'm getting some Chinese.

When you said that Kenny on the radio is your only competition who are you addressing?

Crosby: Kendrick Lamar

OK-Tho: So not Kenny G?

Crosby: Nah, I'm better than Kenny G. Even on the saxophone homie cannot touch me.

In other genres of music, there are distinct sub-groups. In hip hop, no one really explicitly self-identifies their sub-genre. Why do you think that is?

Crosby: Because there's this notion that there's only "real hip hop" and the rest is trash or a fad. Rap is the only genre in the history of music that does that. Imagine if every metal band sounded like Metallica with no progression. Hip hop is scared of progression for some reason. All these old heads want everybody to be as technical as Nas or all beats to sound like Tribe and preme. Fuck that. There's no such thing as real hip hop it's all real. I hate being labeled like that. If somebody does something experimental rap fans get turned off by it.

I’ve never heard of any of the featured rappers before this release. How did you link up with them?

Crosby: So Well$ is another rapper from Chapel Hill. I just hit him up for a feature one day and he said he really fucked with my music and we been cool ever since. He's like the nicest guy you could ever meet tbh. 

I met Adot thru Twitter. I guess his manager showed him some of my music and he wanted to collab. I already had the first verse of run it up recorded so I sent it to him to see if he would fuck with it. 

I know Khan-Ji through Lentra. He told me about him and I was like "oh shit he's dope." I recorded controlled at Frost's house late at night and forgot about it haha. So I sent it to Lentra like 3 months later and he loved it and said Khan-Ji would fit on it.

Before the project dropped, you tweeted “Got a goat ass song with no hook.” Which track was that for? Did you end up finding a hook for it?

Crosby: That was "Jagged." I could not for the life of me figure out a hook, so I sent it to Lentra with no hook and he said its cool cause the last few lines of each verse sound like the hook anyway.

OK-Tho: Oh so the lines “I know these dreams look ludicrous but I’m really a king to these people I’m really reaching these people.” What do you want listeners to take away from that track?

Crosby: It was just a huge reflection on the last few years in my life. And the last lines of each verse is like where I'm at right now.

Tell me more about the cover art for the project. Also, what’s up with the deluxe edition?

Crosby: I told Rxch that I had to have mobsters on it because the name Crosfather comes from my favorite movie The Godfather. Other than that I just really let him do his thing. The deluxe edition has a few extra songs on it. We recorded a lot so we had to narrow it down to 10 but there were others we liked too.

What’s next for Crosby?

Crosby: I've got a few projects in the works, but I can't talk about them right now. Expect news soon though. Hopefully, we get some merch going and some physicals out in the next few months. I'm just really trying to perfect my brand and my music.