Razor Tongue Media

On The Blade With
John Crown

Tacoma’s John Crown just dropped a new EP My Best Friends Don’t Have Feelings and its a full display of the vet’s penchant for uncanny wit and hilarious zingers as well as his lack of fear in displaying his more vulnerable side.  Produced in its entirety by SlackBeatz, the project continues on the recipe 2018’s No Lanes threw on the bar with a drink that’s one part bodacious and one part honest emotion.  It works well and Crown’s ability to adapt to more contemporary cadences without sounding out of his element testifies to his capability as an MC.  We recently sat down with him at his crib and talked about the record and a host of other topics.

On the evolution of his current rap style, how that was influenced, and whether or not he will ever return to his earlier roots:

“What influenced that is not being stuck to the music that I fell in love with.  Like when you do that, you sound like back then. Like Jay-Z said, ‘n$#@as want my old shit, buy my old album.’

I don’t think I will ever ever go back to that, I mean I might?  You talking about boombap John Crown, conscious, the 12 to 16 syllables a bar, just running the flow? I can still do that. In fact, I write a lot of these songs in the same way and then take out all the unnecessary stuff, right? Cuz we like to put a whole lot of extra words in our raps and instead you just get to the point and let people’s imaginations do the rest of the work.”

On title track “Best Friends” (an emotional introspective look at dealing with stress by self-medicating and isolationism) and Crown’s mindset when that song came together:

“Me and my producer drove straight through from Denver…23 hours straight. and one conversation that we had was about breaking the mindset of poverty and that sometimes you have to be cutthroat, you have to not have feelings if you want to get ahead in life.  Not to lose yourself though.

I’m an empath, I’m a big old softie.  I still cry watching The Land Before Time and E.T….I just can’t help it, its who I am on the inside.  But I’ll rip your motherfucking throat out too.  To be tender and be raised by wolves and to have that understanding that I have to protect who I am… so saying ‘My best friends don’t have feelings /We come from where the wolves raise children/  I tried to numb the pain but I still feel it’,  those three lines stem from that conversation.”

On his passion for photography and  his favorite image he has captured since he took it up:

A beautiful Native American woman stands with her fist raised proudly and red face paint on.

“My favorite shot that I’ve taken was a shot of a young lady from the Colville Indian Reservation. And we were just doing like portraits and group photos and then somebody had some face paint, we just throw it out there. Let’s do some MMIW shots and it deviated from our original plan. And she ended up posting it and it went viral.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. That’s a pandemic that’s been going on for a long time in our reservations and we got to change that also.

But the photo was my favorite because not only did they go viral, which is hella cool, because it means that it touched people in some kind of way.  And it was for young people and that was my favorite thing about photography was empowering people like making people feel dope. Unless you’re trying to be a superstar, most people don’t like being in front of the camera. So, to empower them, ‘Look at this dope ass photo, I just took of you’. That makes me feel good.”

On Kanye for President or Kanye needs help:

“Both? We need a new national anthem. And I think Kanye West, his ego is so big that if he became president, he’ll write the new national anthem. Now, I love Kanye West, just because I felt old Kanye West. I do believe the fame monster got to him. 

I do believe that losing his mother young and as much as he loved her, I think that messed that man up. So, I do believe that Kanye needs help.  So, if he gets helped, that’s up to him.   We already made it through Donald Trump. At least Kanye West ain’t racist towards me. I do think that n—a crazy but I’d rather have him than Trump or Biden.”

On the police’s culpability in the murder of Crown’s cousin Jessica Ortega and how that has affected his viewpoint in 2020:

Jessica Ortega was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend after she repeatedly pled for her help from the Pierce County Sheriffs.

“My answer to the question of how I feel about the police locally or anywhere in America is fuck the police. The police are a corrupt system used by corrupt people of power to govern us with an iron fist. It tends to mostly be people of color and people without the color green.”

*Editor’s note: Crown clarified in the full interview that Jessica was actually his cousin but that their relationship was that of brother and sister.

“My sister’s life was threatened by a felon with a tracker, who was not supposed to have a gun. He had an ankle bracelet monitor on. They could ping this n—a anytime. And they knew where he was. They knew his schedule. They let him go to school, they let him go to work. This happened on Wednesday. On Saturday he came to my sister’s workplace and the only word I can think of is, executed her in front of all her coworkers while they were clocking in. The police had plenty of time to go apprehend–I don’t even say his name. They had plenty of time to go apprehend him. And they didn’t.”

“I never had a cop save me from nothing. And I hope that I never have to, and I hope that if I do, it’s a good cop. And I don’t think that’s a hard thing to imagine since they don’t tell on each other, it’s a gang. The streets be like no snitching and the cops be like no snitching. And then the media tell on everybody. I hate the police because if they just did their job, Jessica would still be alive.”

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