Crown City Rockers frontman Raashan Ahmad is readying his second and latest solo project, For What You’ve Lost on Bay Area indie imprint A Champion Sound. The 13 track collection is a musical voyage decidedly introspective with Raashan’s emotional-laden lyrics over funk-drenched grooves and sharp live instrumentation. Guest appearances include vocalists Aloe Blacc and Noelle Scaggs along with hip-hop veterans Gift of Gab, Count Bass D, Chicago’s Rita J, and Stro the 89th key of The Procussions.
For What You’ve Lost is as much a celebration of Ahmad’s recent struggles as it is a mourning of them. “I’ve learned valuable lessons from my set backs.” On “In Love with Wax,” where every line of a song is a favorite 12” single from the 90’s, Raashan pays homage to the forefathers of hip-hop. “These cats are the foundation of the culture I love,” explains Ahmad. “I wanted to celebrate them.”
Traveling the globe performing for teams of fans stretching from Europe to Japan, Australia and stateside, this collection of songs highlights a worldview unique both in perspective and production. Raashan employs producers like Mitsu of Japan, Australia’s Paper Plane Project, and France’s Soul Square, among others. “Of course I brought on my Crown City fam Headnodic and Woodstock too,” adds Ahmad.
Born and raised in Pasadena, CA, it’s no surprise that hip-hop runs through Raashan’s veins. His dad was a DJ, keeping a huge collection of records and mixtapes in the house. But music wasn’t just a passing phase for Raashan. In the late 90s, while in the Roxbury section of Boston honing his skills at underground spots, Raashan met hip-hop heads and musicians from Berklee School of Music Woodstock, Kat Ouano, Headnodic, and Max MacVeety. The chemistry was undeniable and Mission was formed. The emcee backed up by a live band were compared to the Roots, but “way funkier” according to XLR8R magazine, and instantly became known for their rousing live performances.
In 1999, Mission released the self-titled album, which quickly became a cult classic. In 2001, after an old 60’s British rock band also named Mission asked them to switch monikers, they obliged and chose the name Crown City Rockers. In 2004, they released the astonishing LP Earthtones, resulting in one journalist writing: “Having elevated their chops and their internal chemistry vastly on this release, Crown City Rockers might want to think twice before they change anything else in this winning formula.” In 2009 they released another critically acclaimed LP, The Day After Forever. In 2009, Raashan released his impressive, solo debut The Push, again to high praise from critics.
Undoubtedly, there’s nothing lost here. For What You’ve Lost drops March 29, 2011.