I caught Rashaan Ahmad opening up for Nino Moschella at the Shattuck Down Low last Friday. Got to give it up to Ra--he cannot be accused of keeping it "too real," yet he certainly keeps it 100% true-school hip-hop with his adidas sneakers and Cazal frames. Ra's rapid-fire emcee verses had that 'block party' feel to them, and even though the SDL wasn't as packed as it should have been, Ra's intensity never wavered onstage.
Here's another reason to give Raashan props: a little birdie told me Ra's group Crown City Rockers has just signed to K7 records, who plan to release their next record this fall. In addition to making them labelmates of those other fine Bay Area hip-hop representatives, Zion-I, the move gives CCR international distribution and much-higher industry visibility. It could also be a harbinger of shifting trends in the music industry. With physical CD sales plummeting like cement overshoes on a Mafia stool pigeon and commercial radio almost as dead as a doormouse, acts that can get on the road and put on a wowsers show in strange locales become good as gold. In fact, maybe better than gold. In this economy, selling 500,000 records will be tough for any hip-hop act not named Eminem or 50 Cent, but on an indie label with lower overhead costs, an artist or group need only move a fraction of those units to make a profit.
Crown City Rockers win on both counts here. They put on a great show and are one of the most-talented musical hip-hop groups in the Bay--which makes them one of the most-talented musical hip-hop groups in the entire country. For a decade, they've been building on the indie model which seems to be the direction the entire music industry is going in right now, putting them in the right place at the right time. So, big kudos to CCR (and to K7, for recognizing the real).