“Too White Crew puts a new twist on old school rap.”

By Jason Tanamor

For those who used to kick it to old school rap, then you’re in for a treat. Too White Crew, a tribute band that does nothing but old school rap, took the time to chat it up with Zoiks! Online.

Q - Why did you decide to put this band together?

A - When I was in my rock band Common Ground, I was responsible for playing CDs in between our sets to keep the place jumpin.’ I would always play old school hip hop, which I grew up on and loved. I finally said to myself, ‘If I have to play old school hip hop to light up a dance floor, why not just play old school hip hop in the first place?’ After realizing that NO ONE on earth had ever actually performed old school hip hop live before, I knew right then and there I needed to be the first someday, especially since it was the music that I always listened to when I was a lower case G.

Q - Have the PC police given you any criticism for your name?

A - I think the name makes a lot of people scratch their head – especially for younger people who have never even heard of 2 Live Crew, but we’ve never actually had “criticism” for it. It’s probably a little goofy for how serious we are about being true to the music, but it does say who we are and what we cover. For the record, we are the Too White Crew, not the All White Crew. We’ve had African American MC’s, DJ’s, Fly Girls, etc. who all share the stage. We’re not the first to load a band name either. Remember the Average White Band?

Q - Your show seems very extravagant. How much time is devoted to the stage show versus the actual songs and performing of them?

A - Our stage show keeps getting more elaborate now that the music is done, but the music is definitely a distant first on the importance scale. The quality and authenticity of the choreography for the Fly Girls is also very important. The rest of the show kind of comes together as part of the party at hand.

Q - Are you guys primarily a tribute band or do/will you ever do original songs?

A - We’ve done a couple of original tunes, including a tune that we wrote for an A&E special on the Rock, Paper, Scissors league of America. We’ll do more, but there are soooo many great joints to cover still. I mean, we haven’t even touched on 2Pac yet.

Q - What’s your favorite song to perform and why?

A - I dig tunes like BBD’s “Poison” for the vibe, the mix of singing harmonies/rapping and for the musicality. Warren G’s “Regulate” always kills. I like whistling that hook too. Honestly though, I like doing almost every tune, because I know that no one in the room has probably ever heard a band cover the tunes we’re doing. I mean, who else is throwin’ down Paper Boy and Skee Lo? Yeah, I thought so.

Q - How has the reaction been to the band?

A - Occasionally we’ll see a true hip hop head in the crowd, arms crossed, not knowing what to make of us. But that’s about it. If we were fronting or tracking music, I think we’d rightfully get shelled, but there’s no denying we’ve done something that’s musically unprecedented. We’re humans trying to imitate computers in a world where most bands are tracking music and using computers to imitate humans. We’ve opened for the Digital Underground, Tone Loc, Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock. KRS ONE even called us once about coming to NYC to open for Hip Hop Appreciation Week. Gold chains, forties and crazy old school git-ups aside, close your eyes, the music’s dead on.

Q - What are you promoting?

A - Our merchandise. After six years together, we finally got around to selling TWC stuff, so that’s now at our shows. We also like to plug our MySpace page (www.myspace.com/toowhitecrew). I think a band’s MS page really tells the story – especially in the comments. I’ve seen bands with a gazillion friends but all the comments are “Thanks for the add,” from other bands or cyberdimes flossing their best “Maxim” pose. We don’t use a bot to get our friends, so the comments are mostly from people who saw a show. That’s when you know you’re doing something that people dig.

Q - Anything you wanted to add?

A - Yeah. We throw an old school party. The sights, the sounds, the moves, the drinks, the git-ups, the vibe – all from the era when hip hop preached peace and humptiness. From there hip hop kinda sunk. It got real nasty, violent, self absorbed and sent a bad message. Yeah, we cover a few tunes that aren’t exactly heartwarming, but we keep the vibe positive. I can’t wait to see current artists move away the incessant flow about rims, ‘sclades and the wonders of how she got in them jeans. If I might quote Montell Jordan, “Let’s flip the track, bring the old schooool back.”


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."

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