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Know before you spin that Crocker track that you won't be pandered to. He might challenge your worldview. He might imply that you're closet bigot, a intellectual coward, or a lazy, blind follower of whatever disposable trend, belief or ideology is being marketed to you. He'll call you out. If he's not making you uncomfortable, that's because you aren't listening.
That's not hype. In 2013, the annual Spring Fling festival in Spartanburg, South Carolina, banned a contracted performer from taking the stage. It was the first time in the festival's 35 year history that this had happened, and it only added to the controversy that the performer was a native son, a hip-hop artist, and had gotten the festival slot in the first place due to popular vote. That performer was Crocker, and the reason he was banned was due to a controversial collaboration track with The Lone Gunmen titled "American Way." In the track, Crocker railed against ethnic, socioeconomic and religious prejudice, culminating in a rousing refrain, "Kill Whitey! Kill Whitey! / Say what you like but you think just like me." Had it been another performer, perhaps the whole controversy would have quietly faded. But that didn't happen. Within hours, TV crews and newspaper reporters were covering the story. The public outcry was so loud that there was another first from the City of Spartanburg ... a formal apology.
That's Crocker's story in miniature. He says what needs to be said, even if it means alienating his audience. And then, after the waves anger and the outrage have crested and receded, that same riled-up crowd comes back, desperate for more.
Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Terry Stephen Crocker, Jr. became a rapper because, as he puts it, "I'm an extrovert, and I can't sing." Starting with "The Story of Hansel & Gretel," his joint debut EP release with producer Jack Bandit in Spring 2009, Crocker has been a constant presence on the Carolina underground hip-hop scene. He was a featured performer in the "The Boom Bap & Broke Tour," joined by Ghani Gautama, Ratchet Kills and Lock One. He has opened for underground acts like Ceschi & AWOL One, as well as more mainstream performers like Akil The MC of Jurassic 5, Tame One and El Da Sensei.
Crocker is also the founder and co-owner of LVLRN Records, an independent label focused on finding and developing talented, undiscovered artists. He's joined on the LVLRN by performers like Lindsay Keane, Feather Fly Focus and Hillary Keane, as well as a wealth of collaborators such as Katalyst and Walter Kronkite.
Crocker's work, like all great art, asks probing, uncomfortable questions. It challenges dominant perspectives. It defies the mainstream trends, and speaks to the problematic, often unsolvable truths. He's not the type of performer who panders to prejudices or sticks to formulas just to sell albums. He takes his rhymes and beats, his lyrics and riffs, and uses them to draw a line in sand. On one side is complacent consumption, on the other side something closer to the truth. His music stares you right in the eyes, and asks that unspoken question: "Which side do you want to be on?" The next step is yours. - Steve Shanafelt (October 19, 2013)