What happens when the sophistication of jazz collides with the raw grit of hip-hop? The Crown City Rockers, that’s what. And they’re bringing their unique sound to Cal Poly’s University Union tomorrow.
If you talk about innovative and eclectic hip-hop bands, the Rockers are bound to surface. Combing the polished musical talents of three Berklee College of Music graduates, one street-savvy emcee and one beat-producing guru, the five-piece group breathes fresh air into the worlds of jazz, funk, hip-hop and soul.
“We’re an amalgamation of sound,” emcee and frontman Raashan Ahmad said. “Each of us comes from such different musical backgrounds. Our music is literally all over the place, which is one of our strongest points.”
Relying on sampling and live instruments as a backdrop to smooth, poetic lyrics, the group offers a vibrantly organic sound. Crown City Rockers is similar in comparison to such pioneering acts as De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, but in a category all their own.
Group members originated from all over the U.S. but eventually met and formed in the Boston/Roxbury scene during the late ’90s. In 1999, they headed west to the Bay Area to record a self-titled EP (then under the name “Mission.”) A few years and a full-length album later, the band changed its name to Crown City Rockers. Since then, the group has been touring extensively in support of its most recent full-length, “Earthtones,” playing for countless fans across the globe.
“We’ve really been grindin’ lately,” Ahmad said. “From Japan to the U.K., all our audiences are super live.”
Grinding has brought Crown City Rockers to San Luis Obispo many times before, prompting the band to call Downtown Brewing Co. its “second home.” Brenden Gough is a student at Cuesta College, but still plans to come to campus to enjoy the Rockers’ live show Thursday.
“I’ve seen them play before,” Gough said. “Their live shows are always good; they have a very positive vibe.”
If the Rockers have their way, the group will soon take over the world. For now, however, each member is busy with his duties in the band, and a few are also pursuing solo side projects.
“We’ve each been doin’ a lot of independent hustle. Hopefully this year will be really good for us,” Ahmad said.
Look for the Rockers tomorrow during UU Hour to experience their dynamic and vivid live performance.
“That’s where we really get down. We love rockin’ live shows,” Ahmad said. “We’re just trying to keep the culture of hip hop music alive.”