C.R.A.C., standing for Collect Respect And (a) Check, is the oddball musings on wax of producer-on-the-mic Ta’Raach and rapper Blu, with help from Ta’Raach’s crew the Lovelution. C.R.A.C. is a complicated collaboration to grasp, starting with its proper pronunciation, which Blu and Ta’Raach make known throughout the albums interludes and outros — “It ain’t crack. It’s crass, bitch!”
Save a trip to the dictionary, crass means without refinement, delicacy or sensitivity. The Piece Talks embodies this definition with the unrefined style that makes Madlib’s blunted beat tapes so stimulating. This is a record for the people with short attention spans, who miss the Prince Paul skit or swear by KMD’s Mr. Hood for building an album from an instructional language record. C.R.A.C. is for the highly blunted and those with no interest in singles, but simply digging the vibe.
With this in mind the first song “Buy Me Lunch” is built on an infectious and repetitious guitar strum sample and a big beat. It lacks rapping or a clear chorus, but that means nothing in the world of C.R.A.C. I have played this song every time I get in my car with a nice sunny day outside my windows, chanting along with the “hey hey heys” as singer Noni Limar laughingly croons “let’s play.”
From “Buy Me Lunch” C.R.A.C. teeters from boom-bap tracks with Blu getting his wordsmith on, such as “Love Don’t” and “Respect,” to jazzy interludes like “Activate Too” with Blu just vibing ad-libs of “action, activate… until she masturbate” or “action, activate… somebody tell the pastor to pass the cake.” Interestingly enough, Ta’Raach, in all his psychosis behind the boards, cannot escape his influence as a J. Dilla protégé. Whether he is producing a chopped up Jaylib-esque banger or grooving into a jazz style reminiscent of Pharcyde’s “She Says,” Dilla’s influence is present.
Then there is Blu, who adapts to the numerous eras of hip hop production style that Ta’Raach puts to the decks. Be it, a re-imagining of EPMD’s “You Gots To Chill” or a Detroit street burner in “Pop Them Boyz,” Blu tongue lashes and talk smacks with effortless brilliance. On “2.15.05” Blu rattles off a crafty party story that bleeds into “Mr. Big Fizz,” a call-out to poseur freestylers to quit fizzing out and just pop something. Blu spits “this n**** twisted of a twist off, n**** been gone since liftoff, he at the bar blowing all his chips off, hollering at a bitch, miss matching like Kriss Kross” and “talking about (who?) Mr. Big Fizz, pop-ass, jive-ass big Whig, pop tags, drive jags and get chips. Who your kids want to be like think they OG like… Big lip mofo, talking shit like his whole squad grip 4-4’s, pimping these broke hoes, and really he broke though, thinking that he Willie D and don’t know.”
Just when it seemed as though it could not get any more wacky fantastic, Ta’Raach rounds out the album with “Bullet Through Me,” a Prince on shrooms song with singer Shawn Jackson singing about nothing in particular, while Ta’Raach rambles about “washing it down with a tall glass of Mellow Yellow.” Suddenly it all makes sense; this album is what happens from too much yellow5 in the system. The Piece Talks is best heard on a warm relaxing summer day or after five bong rips to the dome and a 2liter of grape soda — listen at your own risk.