G-Christ: We’re doing all right.
M.O.S.: We’re doing pretty good, man.
How did Crew54 come together?
G-Christ: I had my own group. I was in Texas Immigrants at the time. I was looking to get started with the group that I had. I was introduced to M.O.S. through a mutual friend, Lady K from 104.9 The Beat. That’s how we met.
M.O.S.: We were seeing each other at shows and talking back and forth on MySpace. Come to find out, he lived right around the corner from me. We were talking about music and I heard some of his solo stuff. I was like, ‘Let’s do a collab.’
G-Christ: And we took it from there.
M.O.S.: He came through and we did the collab. At the time, both of our groups were doing separate things. Since he was right around the corner, every time he would come through, I would ask him to jump on a track. Before you knew it, we had a full album done.
G, you’re from Wilmington, North Carolina and M.O.S., you’ve been in DC and other places before you both landed in Texas. How do you mesh all those different influences?
G-Christ: I’m not going to lie. I got into it through a friend of mine in Texas. I didn’t really even think about rapping until he told me about it. A lot of my stuff really does come from Texas even though I’m from North Carolina. As far as getting into it, being in Texas and listening to them rap really helped me out.
M.O.S.: I’ve been doing my thing, as far as the so-called “East Coast” style. When I was in DC, I was working with a producer who told me to make my music clearer. I listened to artists from Texas because they spit it real clear. That really helped me. I’m still doing my thing and I think that’s how I mixed all the different styles together.
G, you were in the army for six years. How did that change things for you?
G-Christ: The army, that’s what brought me to Texas. That changed everything, because I probably never would have put my foot in Texas if it hadn’t been for that. The army put me in a lot of positions to learn from a lot of different cultures, learn from different people and listen to different genres of music. We were moving around a lot. I got to learn how to deal with different types of people and see different types of people every day.
How important are shows to Crew54 at this stage in your guys’ career?
M.O.S.: The shows, that’s us, man. The music and making tracks is great, but the shows are what actually inspires us and motivates us to get out. If we’re not at a show, we’re at another show, watching what other artists are doing right or wrong. I know the worst feeling is having a show and not having people there to rock in front of you. We try to keep people inspired and come with a lot of energy. We’re big dudes and we get up there and wild out. We don’t want you sitting there, looking at your watch and whatnot.
G-Christ: Yeah. Like M.O.S. said, the shows are our moneymaker. We pretty much got everything started off of the shows. A lot of the connections we got is because of people seeing us at the shows.
M.O.S.: You have a better chance of gaining a fan at a show than having them listen to your CD, because they have a million cats handing them CDs. The shows show your true talent.
Your first project was Beaters and Babies. How did that project do for you guys?
G-Christ: It did real good. We thought it was just going to be an EP at first. It really allowed people to put a name with a face.
M.O.S.: It was really well-received. As far as a first project, I don’t think too many people come out with a project that’s that strong.
Your latest project, The Middle Road, is up for free download now on your MySpace. How’s that doing for you guys?
M.O.S.: It’s doing real well. It’s doing better than we thought it would do. We’re using the internet to keep our buzz up until we put out the album. We had a release party for it and a lot of people came out and showed love. The Middle Road was supposed to be a bunch of tracks that we did with artists trying to come up on the scene.
G-Christ: It definitely worked out. I love The Middle Road and the people love it. The feedback we get, truth be told, surprises me.
You have a real soulful sound mixed with high energy, hunger and rawness. Where does that sound come from?
M.O.S.: Thank you very much. The sound comes from where we started. We were two guys who started out hungry. We love the soul samples, or whatever you want to call them. We just got together and everything happened. So far, so good.
G-Christ: A lot of the cats that do this type of music, they’re a lot smoother and laid back. A lot of our energy stems from our live performances. We get a great response at our shows. We’re aggressive and whiling out. We’re screaming, almost MOP-style. You get a blend of soulful hip-hop with high energy. That keeps the people entertained.
Are people surprised when they learn that you guys are from Texas?
M.O.S.: It’s funny. Through the internet, I connect with a bunch of artists and the first thing they say is that they didn’t know cats in Texas were doing it like that. There’s a lot of cats out here with a different sound other than the “Texas sound.”
G-Christ: Yeah. There’s a good variety. Look at our producer in Houston, Qenetic Storm. You think everybody sounds alike and then he’s coming with his beats. Then you have cats in San Antonio. There are a lot of different styles of hip-hop in Texas, it’s just that one style is showed the most.
M.O.S.: And I don’t know if they love us or hate us. I would say that a lot of people, when they hear us, they’re surprised. I think a lot of people who like other styles of hip-hop can still respect what we do. One thing is that we get a lot of respect in a lot of different areas of hip-hop. The underground and thug-type cats all respect our music.
G-Christ: What helps us a lot is that we’re getting a lot of respect from the veteran artists in our area. We’ve helped put on shows and sometimes we go to shows and through word of mouth, we’re getting pushed forward faster than we thought we would be. When you have a guy that walks right by you and doesn’t say anything to you and then a week later he says, “Crew54, what’s up! How are you?”, that means a lot. That means that we’re getting more respect.
M.O.S.: It’s only been a year too that we’ve been a crew. When I was M.O.S., I wasn’t getting the same love from the cats that love us right now. I’m just excited right now. I think we can take this as far as we want to.
Has it been easy to find producers to work with?
G-Christ: We’ve been blessed so far to have producers that want to work. They want to get down out here and they want to work, just like we want to work. We want to help them just as much as they help us. We’ve been trading off. With Qenetic Storm, he liked what we did and he sent us a beat. We tried to make the tightest track possible and he loved it. We try to push him as much as he pushes us. We’ve been blessed.
M.O.S.: We like to reach out to a lot of different producers, especially producers that aren’t known for their name but they have a lot of quality production. Those are the ones that are hungry. I’d rather not work with some of these producers who would rather send a beat for $50 or $60 and nobody ever hears them. We did the song with Qenetic Storm and pushed it out, and it’s really helped the both of us.
Qenetic Storm, you produced “Titan” for Crew54. How was it working with them on that?
Qenetic Storm: It was dope! The chemistry and the charisma took me back to the days when hip-hop was about expressing one’s true self, not an image. I thought to myself, ‘This is it. This is the song that many people will like.’ And it’s true. Cats wild out a bit at their shows when this song comes on. Speaking on that, this song would be the perfect theme song for the Tennessee Titans!
What is it about Crew54 that made you want to work with them?
Qenetic Storm: What got me interested in producing for them was the fact that they expressed their lyrics with a raw passion. That’s really hard to find these days. There’s too many MCs that are rapping just to make words rhyme. When I first heard G-Christ and M.O.S., the first thing that came to mind was M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” and Little Brother’s “Light It Up.” They’re a blend of aggressive yet soulful hip-hop. Most importantly, these cats are super-hungry, so I lace them with dope beats and we all flip through this music business, achieving goals one stepping stone at a time.
Will you guys be doing more work in the future?
Qenetic Storm: Yep! No doubt about that, homie. We stay in the production lab and studio on some sweatshop shit, knocking out tracks left and right, whether it be for a mixtape, album or dropping a nice single to keep our name in the streets.
How’s your new album, Aggressive Soul, coming?
G-Christ: Aggressive Soul, right now, we’re gathering up our ideas. We’re coming up to a point where we’re about to get down on it and get real serious with it. Right now, it’s coming great. We like the way it’s looking. We got some things to work out on it and we’re going to bang them across the head with it.
M.O.S.: This is the official thing right here. We have that fresh, new feeling. We can do this. Aggressive Soul is filled with official tracks. This is that one right here that solidifies us.
Ideally, how would Aggressive Soul come out?
G-Christ: The sky’s the limit. We’re going to ride out with what we got and keep going. We still have to get more connections. We’re still going to have to get to where we can press more albums out than what we need because those first albums that we press, that’s where we’re going to make our money and see where it can go.
M.O.S.: Aggressive Soul is going to go as far as we take it. A lot of cats that put out albums, they think they’re going to be superstars and everybody is going to love it. If you never get it anywhere, nobody can ever hear it. We’re going to try to take it around the world. If anybody wants to holler at us, we’re going to take this around the world.
When will Aggressive Soul drop?
M.O.S.: We were thinking about the end of September or early October. We had some issues with taking care of the business side of things. With our last projects, we just recorded some tracks and threw them out to the streets. We want to get everything in order. We don’t want Aggressive Soul sitting on the shelf because we didn’t take care of our business first.
Does it ever get hard balancing the business with the art?
G-Christ: It’s definitely rough, but you always have artists that have gone there before you. You always have those veteran artists that have been there, or they might be going through it at that time and they’ll tell you, “Don’t do this” or “If you do this, watch out.” That’s helped us a lot. Those artists have really helped us out a lot. We’ve learned about booking shows, copyrighting and all that. There’s always somebody out there you can ask. It would be nice to have that accountant or that lawyer or anyone, but right now, we have to go on advice until that comes along.
M.O.S.: I used to think about that a lot. We would go to shows and we’d see artists on our same level and they had a whole team behind them. As far as what we do, I actually like it that it’s just me and him because we have control of our own destiny. We both work hard and sometimes G-Christ goes harder than me. I like the fact that we don’t have to depend on anybody like a manager or anybody. We can get out there, do it ourselves and keep that money ourselves.
What do you want to say to everybody?
G-Christ: I want to use this time to just say that I appreciate all the love and all the producers that have gotten down with us on all our projects, like Qenetic Storm, C-Royal, Reeplay, Slimdog, King Verse, and Precise. If I forget you, that’s my bad. But I want to thank all the producers that were involved. We appreciate it.
M.O.S.: Check out The Middle Road. I know there’s a bunch of them out there, but this is quality. And there is good hip-hop out there, you just have to look out for it. Stop looking in the same places. There’s good hip-hop everywhere out there. Also much love to all the artists out there on the grind doing it for hip-hop, M7 Music, and everyone else putting it down. That’s what’s up.