featured interview

Raashan Ahmad Crown City Pusher You know him from Mission, you know him from the Crown City Rockers, Mr Raashan Ahmad has recently released his firstling 'The Push', an introspective album exploring the path of life that the gifted, multi-talented rapper has travelled along. From B-boying, moving to the Bay area, losing his mother and silver linings, a variety of life aspects is treated over a soundscape created by the likes of DJ Vadim, Headnodic, Stro the 89 Key, and Eligh a.o, the ideal jump-off to dig more about this 'Pusher'...

About Raashan

Wassup Raashan congrats with your great album, first a few words on the artist behind it: your first performance as an emcee was rather 'by accident'... please could you share the story with our readers?

Yeah, I actually started out as a dancer, me and my crew used to back-up dance for people, we're in a couple of low-budget videos and stuff anyways, one day we drove crazy far to an audition to open up for House Of Pain. When we got there they told us they didn't want dancers to open the show and they wanted a rap group, since we drove so far we were like 'Ummm we are a rap group..?'. We got a break tape from the car we used to practice to and decided right there I was gonna be the rapper my other homies would D.J. and dance. We didn't get the gig but after that, I got the fever!

Since you were a dancer, what was the name of your favourite dance move?

'Prolly the Suicide' (where u flip over and land directly on your back) or the '2000' (spinning on both hands with your feet in the air).

You actually wrote an ode to hip-hop with your track 'B-Boy' (2004). Do you consider yourself an original b-boy?

Definitely not...The original B-boys were doing it way before I got into it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the O.G.'s though!

So how much are the four elements still a part of your life at this exact point in your career?

Being a M.C. is obviously the biggest part, I also D.J. on a semi-regular basis. As much as I tried, the graff side of me only goes as far as a tag, no top to bottoms or murals. As for dancing: that's like walking to me...even though I don't bust in circles much anymore, I still get down from time to time.

Since 1999's Mission release, could you explain how you've experienced growing into the game and getting better?

Wow...probably realizing how much more the biz side of the hustle matters in 'making it'. I think talent is a big part, but perseverance and a good business sense can take you far also. Another thing is learning how to really open up through your music and let the listener really have something to feel...body, soul, and spirit and still trying to relay real life through words.

Would you be a much different artist if you still lived in the NYC area instead of the Bay, like you do right now?

Definitely! I'm originally from Trenton N.J. I spent lots of time on the East Coast, plus I lived in Boston for about 5 years before I migrated to the Bay. Here's my take on what makes the styles so difference: weather! The East has winter and it's so reflected in the style...there's a hurried intensity, like there's no time to waste it's cold outside! You get straight to the point! On the West it's sunny and laid-back and chill, very Pharcyde and Snoop. The West sounds like t-shirts and the East sounds like bombers and butter leathers! Being so influenced by both I think I have a taste of East and West.

You're on the road again (like Audio Two) how's it been so far?

(Milk is chillin!) The road is great! I get to travel and rap...this is such a blessing, the crowds have been great so far and I've met some great folks..

Do they already estimate the talent of Giant Panda?

Some do...it's great to see the folks that know there music get live and also watch them win over new fans. G.P. is dope!

About The Push

'The Push' became a very personal album...

...that was the intention, I was going through a really rough patch in my life and writing this record was my own personal therapy.

As it is really personal, were there any people that stepped up to you and said they knew you better than before?

Yes! That was always one of the things I had heard from folks, that they never got a real sense of me as a person, I wanted to completely open up and let people into my experience which at the end of the day can be yours or ours. I've gotten some great feedback from folks who have a better understanding of me now.

Since when did writing become therapeutic for you?

After my mom's passed, I wrote the song 'Cancer' on my record. While writing and recording that song I had to come to grips with a lot of things I never wanted to face before. I can't really listen to that song too much, but sometimes when I get 'lost' I listen to that song and it reminds me of what's what.

Do you feel like going solo was needed to get to the personal approach?

No, honestly it was just timing. At the time I was writing 'The Push' I had moved to L.A. from the Bay area and Crown City was taking a break after lots of touring. I was king of isolated and crazy things were happening. It was just the way everything worked out.

In 'The Crush' you rap about how hip-hop saved your life, which element of hip-hop saved you the most and in what way?

M.C'ing, growing up in mid city L.A. the public schools were kinda booty, Hearing 'You Must Learn' and all the songs of empowerment were amazing! It made me rise up and realize I was more than a couple decades away from slavery and there was so much to be proud of as a young black youth!

How did you connect with the producers on the record? Did you contact them or did it just happen?

Kinda both...I pretty much had been in contact with most but when I realized I was actually 'making a record' I put out a call for beat CD's. The ones on the album are the one's I vibed with the most.

How did the collabo with DJ Vadim and DJ Tonk come together?

I've been a big fan of Vadim's since his trip-hop days, I actually connected with him on Myspace. He sent me some beats and I ended up recording a song for his record and kept one for myself. As far as Tonk goes he's an amazing cat, I've been collaborating with him on various projects for a while now, he kinda has a base in the bay area so we met thru the scene.

About the Crown City Rockers

I remember The Crown City Rockers causing some buzz on national radio station Studio Brussels out here in Belgium when 'Earthtones' dropped. Did you get lots of love from overseas with that CCR project?

Yes! Unfortunately we never got to tour overseas but we got lots of mail from folks digging the sounds.

How's The Crown City Rockers album coming along?

The next record is AMAZING! We got a big break and got to basically live in a beautiful studio for around a year to record the next album, I really think people are gonna enjoy it!

About music

Your son has a lil cameo on the album, has he fallen in love with the mic now too?

Sometimes. He comes in my home studio and loves checking the mic (even if it's unplugged) But other times he's just completely un-impressed by it all.

Is he named after Yusef Lateef?

Yep! I love that name plus I'm named after Rahsaan Roland Kirk and those two are some of my favourite jazz musicians.

Were you a jazz adept before or did it come mainly through digging for samples?

Both. My dad always played jazz around the house but after I started looting his records looking for samples I get into the artistry a lot more.

What was the first rap album you bought/borrowed/had?

Eric B and Rakim - 'Paid In Full'.

What was/were the last album(s) you've uploaded on your iPod?

Giant Panda - 'Electric Laser'.

Are you eagerly awaiting the next Beatnuts album or do you stick with the older version of the Beatnuts?

Both I LOVE the Beatnuts!

Do you have a) EastPack b) JanSport or c) North Face backpack?

Jansport

One of the expressions you use in your press notes and Myspace writings is 'silver linings'... what has the expression 'every cloud has a silver lining' meant to you the past year?

Just that when things look their worst knowing in two weeks time the troubles will have probably gotten sorted out. Finding the beauty in the struggle and holding on to it when things are darkest.

What's next for Raashan Ahmad?

World Domination!!

Shout-outs?

You guys for supporting! My Crew Crown City Rockers and Good Music!

Thanks Raashan!

 

POSTED 06|21|2008
conducted by cpf

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