There’s an immeasurable trait that every musician aspires to emulate through their craft. Lyricism, instrumental skill and attention to detail are all beneficial to an artist’s progression, but such things can be molded and improved upon over time. I’m referring to the “IT” factor — a virtue of creation that knows no boundaries and has no building blocks — you either have it or you don’t. Amone Gragg, known by his stage name Crash_G, has proved through a handful of records that he may very well have “IT.”
It’s difficult to pin down what exactly makes Gragg’s sound and style so addictive, but he gives listeners a plethora of reasons. Perhaps it’s his voice — Gragg delivers his thoughts with an assured nature that cannot simply be taught. It could also be his smooth, relaxed delivery. Whatever this intangible facet is, the 24-year-old California native brought it from his hometown of Bakersfield to Colorado, where he has swiftly made an impact on Boulder’s local music scene alongside fellow artist and collaborator MVRS. Crash_G — by way of determination and laser focus — is on a mission to introduce the Mile High City to his West Coast sound.
Crash_G’s standout hit to this point in his career is “Miss Lady” — a three-headed effort featuring MVRS and Grxxt released earlier this year. Gragg pivots between flowing cadences and trades bars with the track’s guests over glossy synthesizers and funk-rap percussion with a composed relaxation that exists throughout his work. His intention, however, is far more heartfelt and sincere.
“Miss Lady was truly just an ode to my friends and family. I knew before I wanted to introduce myself as a professional rapper I wanted to make sure my family was all on board and believed in me, so I made something for them.”
Perhaps no aspect of Gragg’s life is as important to him as his kinfolk and the town in which they reside. He describes Bakersfield as “the closet shit to Texas that you could get in California.” Crime and bad influence are no stranger to the budding artist either — Gragg used sports and music as a way to avoid dangerous distractions. These experiences, he says, can more or less be attributed to his musical process.
“I used these things to steer me away from whatever else could be occupying my time outside of school. I can’t even count on my hands how much crazy shit I’ve seen or had to deal with living in Bakersfield so it gives me sort of an advantage when molding my sound. It gives me the ability to have no limits or boundaries — my norm isn’t the usual norm.”
Most of Crash’s decisions fall outside the norm, but they’re bold — he’s a tried-and-true risk-taker. That very attribute is what compelled him to hop on a plane to join Eddie Mehari (MVRS) in Boulder. Crash and MVRS gel naturally — on their records, many of which are together, they complement each other’s strengths with chemistry akin to Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Mehari tells me their ebb and flow is due to general understanding and musical approach.
“We try to find a good balance in our placement when recording,” said Mehari. ” This can be through switching in the chorus or trading lines in the middle of a verse. No one is selfish in trying to always go first or anything like that, so the creative flow is always good when we create.”
Gragg wholeheartedly supports Mehari’s statement. Past releases like “Drano” and “Pasadena w/ The Top Down” — two songs highlighting different ends of the sonic spectrum — are shining examples of triumph in their collaboration.
“It’s dope man,” said Gragg. “He’s somebody close who I can trust and can bring me off my pedestal sometimes. He has the best interest in myself and my career so it’s really just another set of eyes and ears that also knows how to maneuver the right way.”
More recently, Crash_G dropped “Self Doubt,” a slower, dreamier record that serves as a change of pace in his growing library. He describes this adjustment as a step towards combining his musical strengths — variation that begins to include lyrics more attuned to his feelings.
I want to develop a mixture of both sounds — to be able to really make music for any and everybody for every type of occasion. I fall in/out of feelings just as much as the next so being able to project them on beats like that gives me that much more of an advantage. It gives me the sanity I need.
In the face of a looming pandemic, Crash_G and company have found ways to perform their music locally — playing sets at Boulder nightlife venues like Roxie’s and Taco Junky. He tackles the growing importance of social exposure through various channels — live performances, media engagement and more by targeting the college audience that inhabits most of Boulder.
“We’ve been able to solidify ourselves as the premier artists in Boulder in a short span of time. College kids run the damn country right now with all these different media outlets & platforms they control, so getting tapped in and connected with them gives us countless opportunities. I’m trying to go TikTok viral [laughs].”
What’s next for Crash_G? Until things begin to open back up, he’s got a couple of projects slated to release in the near future — Crash Course: 101 as well as Crashed With MVRS, a joint album with his favorite musical companion. Revisiting the “IT” factor, when asked about what sets him apart, Crash is blunt and direct — “My confidence, without a doubt.” If his awareness and improvement to this point are a sign of things to come, then his confidence may very well be “IT” — and I’d be inclined to agree.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF @drewshotya AND CRASH_G
CHECK OUT CRASH_G ON SPOTIFY (BELOW) AND INSTAGRAM