BEST NEW TRACKS: CROOKS - DREAMS (PROD. SLNDRMANN)
Up-and-coming rapper Crooks gets real, positive on "Dreams."
"It's a dog-eat-dog-world," is said so often it's trite to the point of nonsense. It's usually thrown out as a reminder for the young and idealistic, when pointing out something is pretty messed-up, exploitative, and in nobody's best interest. It usually comes from someone older and "wiser," telling the youngster that's "just the way it is."
The phrase "dog eat dog," actually comes from an even older proverb "dog not eat dog." It acknowledges the fact that nobody wins when you've got a society eating itself. There are no winners when you're living in a scorched Earth hellscape.
"Dreams" is the newest single from Dog Eat Dog World from Crooks, a rising rapper with a distinctive British dialect and insane songwriting and production talents. On "Dreams," Crooks acknowledges the price that this eye-for-an-eye approach will have through the lens of a personal relationship.
CROOKS - DREAMS (PROD. SLNDRMANN)
"I can’t live with myself knowing that our dreams are broken
And things we promised became things we had just spoken
Is that smell of love in the air, fade away it seems less potent
A promise to you and now my heart seemed less broken."
Don't fret about the heartbroken lyrics. This is no atmosphere emo rap (not that there's anything wrong with that.) Sonically, "Dreams" seems more in-line with late '90s British trip-hop like Tricky or Massive Attack, with a low-key spoken rap style that feels more like poetry than gangsta rap. It's not a throwback, however - gauzy, ambient synth meets sparkling Trap beats, becoming a mighty Cloud Rap/Trap dreamscape, making the best of all worlds.
This is in large part thanks to the production of SLNDRMANN, another up-and-coming beatmaker who's been rising through the ranks of underground rappers this last year. "Dreams" could end up making multiple people's dreams come true, as both Crooks and SLNDRMANN are ridiculously talented, unique, and one-of-a-kind.
On his Twitter feed, Crooks talks about his "inspirations," or lack thereof. "I don’t sound like your favorite rapper so you don’t fuck with me? That’s cool cause fuck would I wanna be a wannabe copycat-ass “rapper” for I’m an artist."
I don’t sound like your favorite rapper so you don’t fuck with me? That’s cool cause fuck would I wanna be a wannabe copycat-ass “rapper” for I’m an artist.
— Crooks (@crookofcrooks) September 4, 2018
It's not often you find a young musician that sure of themselves. Let's hope more young rappers follow his lead. We need more musicians with something unique to say! Bonus points for being constructive and positive, at the same time.
We Are: The Guard are quite sure we'll be hearing a lot more from Crooks and SLNDRMANN.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.