“Martin’s messages been crucified throughout decades, man. We complacent as shit now. We don’t stand up for shit no more. We ain’t got no fucking civil rights era no more, nigga, we have the Internet. Nobody’s out there in the streets doing shit no more. Nothing. I’m trying to do my part.”
These words bring CRASHprez and *hitmayng’s EP fear itself. to its conclusion. The message is one of frustration. They’re the words of a black man living in a country where racism supposedly ended once a black man became president. They’re a call to action, which is fitting: the duo released the EP on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which, as CRASHprez reminds listeners, is a day of service.
It might be easy for some to see CRASHprez — a junior at the University of Wisconsin and a scholar in the school’s First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning community — as angry. His messages are blunt. His voice is strong, and he laces his words with explosive consonants that give emphasis to uninhibited and omnipresent ruminations on race and identity. He makes music under the self-described “protestwave” genre. At one point, he says, “The way black people live in America is fucking disrespectful.”
It’s not easy listening. But it’s also not easy being black in a white man’s America. This is the root of CRASH’s anger and his frustrations. It’s an anger that’s more than warranted. As he says, “This ain’t watered down hit-pop shit for your friends … This is CRASH fucking prez who won’t stop till he wins.”
fear itself. kicks off with “Kill Me Dead,” a bone-chilling meditation on CRASH’s place in society. “Pace along the pavement ’cause I can’t afford no hooptie / Hoodie on my head, fuck, a white guy might shoot me,” he raps over a soulful smoky beat from *hitmayng (also a student at the University of Wisconsin). He gives shoutouts to two of his rap peers, John Vietnam and Christopher “Avionadramida” Scott, both of whom passed away, as well as his grandfather, who passed away in early 2014. “Two years, it seems like everybody’s dying,” he says. He’s a man who’s lost a lot and lives in a nation where he has to watch his back every time he steps outside. But this doesn’t push him into complacency. It only makes him speak louder.
*hitmayng’s production is the perfect complement to CRASH’s forceful delivery. “SiLENCiO” sports a hard-hitting trap beat piece together with menacing piano rolls and G-funk synths. These sounds make lines like “My dick’s a weapon / Let’s reproduce till racism dies” all the more powerful. “Aaron McGruder,” perhaps the best song CRASHprez has ever made, is brought together with an amazing, fuzzy beat with slinky synths and unorthodox vocal samples. It’s a fun beat, and the song is CRASH at his most humorous: “My personality is hella sexy so I flaunt it / I’m eloquent and educated, fluent in ebonics.”
Despite the fun nature of the song, it still acts as an honest rallying call: “Life sometimes don’t make no goddamn sense / Sometimes we do things we can’t repent / So handle your endeavors and get your shit together / We ’bout to make the whole world better.” Complacency is CRASH’s worst enemy. As the man says, “Stop playing games and stand for something, my nigga.”
4 out of 5 stars