Anti-Crew
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Anti-Crew

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Alternative

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"Anti-Crew Crosses Hip-Hop, Indie Genres"

HOWARD DUKES
South Bend Tribune
April 22, 2012

The band Anti-Crew describes its sound as hip-hop/alternative.

What exactly does that mean? Well, if you guessed that Anti-Crew has a stage show that features rapping, singing and musicians playing instruments kind of like The Roots, you’d almost be there.

“Essentially, Anti-Crew is a cross-genre band with a live instrument band (and) hip-hop at its core,” Jeff “FlareDaRebel” Shafer says. “I tell people that if The Roots and Rage Against the Machine had a love child, that would be Anti-Crew.”

Fans in South Bend will get their chance to hear Anti-Crew’s genre-bending sound when the band performs at the Golden Gnome on Thursday.

Anti-Crew’s sound came together when the band’s members met at Columbia College in Chicago.

“Originally, me and (the group’s) DJ (who is no longer with Anti-Crew) moved to Chicago for college,” Shafer says. “They had these battles of the bands and we entered, but we kept on losing because we didn’t have a band.”

What the two music students did have was residence in a college dormitory filled with talented musicians looking to play in a band.

“My roommate played bass and the DJ’s roommate played guitar,” Shafer says.

Those two musicians, bassist Cambridge Darnley and guitarist Patrick Davies, were in-house additions. The band had to go outside to find a drummer.

The band’s drummer, Patrick “Arch” McFowler, came to an audition and blew everybody away, Shafer says.

The band was ready to compete in the battle of the bands. The audience responded positively, and soon the members began thinking about expanding their sound.

“The thing about it was that all of us had really eclectic tastes in music,” Shafer says. “That is why we all love Chicago.”

Shafer, for example, was into hip-hop and indie rock music, while the bass player Darnley gravitated to hip-hop and funk.

“It’s really a sound that moves across genres and styles in a way that is really appealing to our fans and besides that is really fun to play,” Shafer says.

Anti-Crew’s latest project is the album “Foundation: Expansion Plan.” Shafer says that the album started out as a seven-track EP called “Foundation.”

The group wrote more songs and changed the name to “Foundation: Expansion Plan.”

Shafer can’t give a direct answer if somebody asks how much the record costs.

“We decided to make the album ‘name-your-price,’ and you can download it for free if you want to,” he says.

Doing that, Shafer says, is a statement of the band’s appreciation for the fans who have supported the group over the years.

Anti-Crew is not the first group to set up a payment honor system by allowing fans to download songs for free. Of course, plenty of groups still rail against piracy.

Shafer says that Anti-Crew’s decision to allow fans to set their own price for “Foundation: Expansion Plan” is a realization of the changes taking place in the music industry.

“People are going to get access to the music, and I am not going to fight them,” he says. “If you want to get to the bottom line, if more people hear our music, then more of them will want to buy Anti-Crew merchandise. And if more people buy our merchandise, then maybe more people will come to see an Anti-Crew show.”

Getting fans to see Anti-Crew perform live remains the ultimate goal, Shafer says.

Bands that can put on a good live show will develop a following and will make money, he says.

“You have to be able to back up your project with the kind of live performance that will blow people away.” - South Bend Tribune


"Anti-Crew Dishes Up Wayback Wednesdays"

If you follow local hip-hop act Anti-Crew on either Facebook or Twitter, you've hooked yourself up with a local act that knows sharing means caring. They hook you up with what they're digging on Music Mondays, and they feature a tune from their latest effort, Foundation: Expansion Plan on Thirsty Thursdays. Where it's really at, however, is Wayback Wednesdays. The Wayback tracks go deep into the Anti-Crew catalog — all the way back to FlareThaRebel and DJ Eternal's high school days. Hop on over to either of their social media feeds to see what's popping this week. - The Pitch


"Chicago CD of the Month: Foundation"

If anyone compares Chicago act Anti-Crew to Linkin Park just because they rap and have guitars, I will personally punch them in the face. Unlike the power pop band, Anti-Crew has talent and doesn’t rely on screaming and minimal DJ skills to scrape by. Foundation is the band’s first album in Chicago and with a whole band and might I say, a little makes a big difference. In its seven tracks the EP creates a fuller, well-rounded sound than Anti-Crew last two albums. The talent of Flare and DJ Eternal that started in Kansas City is only enhanced by the addition of a live band. The track “One Time� cannot be done the old Anti-Crew way. A simple pre-recorded track would not do. The dueling guitar riff in the beginning and the funky bass line make the song the catchy thing that it is. Flare and DJ Eternal’s songwriting seems to have gotten better too, without sacrificing the playfulness that makes Anti-Crew entertaining. “Matt and Jeff’s Bogus Journey� is hilarious, telling the classic story of two guys after one girl, but still has a great drumbeat. And the opener “Sky High ‘08� has a great hip hop sound with an equally great guitar part. If Foundation shows anything it’s that Anti-Crew has learned how to exercise balance within their music, a skill that will only help them in the future.

-Amy Dittmeier - The Deli Magazine Chicago


"Young Guns"

The Peanut downtown on Sunday nights is hip-hop heaven. Scratch DJs take turns at the decks while a constant parade of B-boys and B-girls rocks the floor, making jaws drop and bargoers bounce vicariously, wishing they could bust out moves like that. Featured MCs take the mic, rapping lyrics that stoke the positive vibe. The only people who feel uncomfortable at Hip-Hop and Hot Wings are those who don't like tight crowds.

The two rappers who took the floor at the Peanut one Sunday night in early January sure as hell weren't uneasy with themselves, despite the fact that everyone in the 21-and-up bar was several years their senior.

Both clean-cut and almost — well, OK, totally — nerdy-looking, the two members of Anti-Crew, 19-year-old Jeffrey Shafer and 18-year-old Matt Peters, are arguably the most successful, most talented and most hardworking teenagers on the Kansas City rap scene. They've not only released a professional-quality self-produced album but also been selected recently by an East Coast promotions company to open for some of the biggest names in rap. They'll perform five shows this year, supporting the likes of Fat Joe, Ludacris and Redman.

Jeffrey, who MCs as FlareThaRebel, is the younger brother of Phil "Sike Style" Shafer, the DJ, artist and promoter whose Style Network Cru helps keep this faction of local hip-hop alive and bumpin'. In 1989, Shafer's family moved to Kansas City from Brooklyn, where his father, Douglas Shafer, was a real-estate broker and head of an organization that promoted racial equality in the housing market.

Peters goes by the moniker DJ Eternal and wears an omnipresent baseball cap and glasses plus a wispy, Errol Flynn-like mustache and chin fuzz. Born and raised in Kansas City, he is the son of Steven Peters, who played bass with the Kansas City Symphony. Peters makes the beats, and Shafer comes up with the lion's share of the lyrics. The Crew works mostly spitback or tag-team style, trading verses and frequently rapping in unison, a dual assault of moralistic, hyperenergetic hip-hop.

Live, Shafer and Peters are like advanced math students run amok. With Sike mixing the beats, Anti-Crew took the floor at the Peanut confidently, getting the crowd to make noise without even asking them to. The level of energy that Anti-Crew injects into the room is surprising to anyone who's heard their album but not seen them live. It's not that the CD is boring, but its title, The Progressive Movement: A Step Forward, sounds like a Bill Moyers book. And songs that eloquently bash gun violence, Republicans and mainstream culture don't seem like choice party material.

The audience that night would disagree with that notion. And those in the crowd who knew about the group's recent history were even more fired up by the duo's slamming performance. Because on the night of September 6, burglars shot and killed Matt Peters' father in his Independence home.

It was the fifth time in six months that burglars had tried to break into the house. Cops figure the thieves were after Steven Peters' gun collection. Differing accounts from the perpetrators have left the night's events unclear, but Steven Peters apparently shot one of the burglars in the right arm before (or possibly after) getting shot himself.

Steven Peters' death shook the symphony, which performed at his funeral. Understandably, his death also hit Anti-Crew hard. Steven Peters was a strong supporter of his son's musical endeavors who not only taught his son music theory but also tapped into his scant funds to provide him with instruments, including a $2,000 sequencing keyboard. He opened his home after his divorce to the rap group Disciples of Hip-Hop, in which his son and Shafer were members.

"He would let all six of the Disciples come over at any time and record songs and work on music. He'd tell us to be quiet sometimes," Matt Peters says, laughing. "But anytime we were trying to do something, he was willing to help out."

Steven Peters lent his bass skills to the eighth track on Progressive Movement, "Dial Tone," a lighthearted groove about failed teenage romance. Now the song stands as a poignant final collaboration between father and son.

Peters learned of his father's death on the first day of classes at Columbia College in Chicago, where Shafer also is a student. As a result, he missed the first semester. But now he's back in school and performing in Kansas City on breaks. News of Anti-Crew's selection as part of the big tour helped restore momentum during a dark period. "This tour was a huge blessing for us," Shafer says. "Steve Peters' passing was hard for all of us. The tour symbolized that we still had a lot going for us."

The dates Anti-Crew was supposed to play in January were canceled, but the Crew is still scheduled to open for Fat Joe on May 12 at Norfolk State University in Virginia. After that, Peters and Shafer will open for Ludacris at Texas Southern University in Houston on September 8 and then warm up the stage for Redman at a club in New York City on October 6. As of press time, the January dates have not yet been rescheduled, so the Crew is guaranteed two more shows. The schedule leaves a lot of time between tour dates, but in the meantime, the Crew will definitely have its hands full with school.

The duo started gaining admirers in high school when the Disciples broke up and Peters and Shafer formed Anti-Crew. In their senior year, they dropped all extracurricular activities and vowed to release their album before graduation.

"In our high school, people had seen us doing this music for so long, and we just wanted to be able to reach everybody," Peters says. "High schools are really big social groups, they're close-knit, so having it released in high school [was important] because everybody would know about it — everybody we'd known for the past half of our lives."

"That was a big part of our target audience," Shafer, ever the marketer, adds.

Finished just before graduation, Progressive Movement contains a number of collaborations with local rappers who have been mentors to Anti-Crew. In addition to fellow former Disciple Qan, scene luminaries Approach, Joe Good, CES Cru, Vertigone of the Guild, and Lucid of Human Cropcircles all make appearances. Trystyl of Archaic Academy produced two of the songs, and JKR70 helped out on another. But most of the record is filled with the Crew's own aggressive rhyming and Peters' simple, heavy beats.

Anti-Crew's work ethic has awed the scene. Even among the ranks of professionals twice their age, it would be hard to find anyone as determined or sure of themselves. Mike Viglione, the 26-year-old who raps as Ubiquitous in CES Cru, is quick to sing Anti-Crew's praises. "I can't tell you how impressed I am, mostly because they've accomplished so much in so little time," he says. "They're so young. They're doing the same sort of thing I'm doing, but they've gotten so far so quickly out the gate. I try and take notes from them, honestly."

When asked if they ever experience self-doubt, the two respond humbly but surely. "If I get thoughts like that, it's maybe me trying to be more realistic, trying to keep myself grounded," Shafer says. "I really think I was meant to be doing this. I don't know how far it's going to take me, but I'm certainly going to enjoy it while it lasts."

"So many things have happened and just fallen into place," Peters adds. "I'm not a big believer in, like, destiny and things like that, but it certainly feels like this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now."

Because Anti-Crew is allowed to bring four members on tour, the two have chosen to repay the scene that brought them up by inviting different KC rappers to perform with them at different shows on the big tour. Joe Good will kick it with them at the Luda concert, Qan and Talysman of the Disciples will join them to open for Fat Joe, and CES Cru will have the honor of throwing down before Redman.

But for all of their willpower and success, Peters and Shafer still aren't too far from the spunky sixth-graders they were when they met in math class. They crack up recounting the story of how the teacher made Shafer move to the seat behind Peters, then a stranger to him, because Shafer had been talking during class. Still feeling mischievous, Shafer took his pencil and poked a mole on the back of Peters' neck. When Peters whirled around angrily, Shafer struck an Arthur Fonzarelli pose, pointing his fingers and saying "heyyyyy."

"I thought Matt was a dork," Shafer says with a laugh. "In middle school, I had no idea he'd be living in my house."

"We didn't know each other, and we were in the same class," Peters says, "but if someone were to have pointed across the class and said, 'See that guy over there? You're going to open for Ludacris with him,' I'd have been like, what?" - The Pitch, Kansas City, MO


"Premium Blend"

Columbia students Jeffrey Shafer and Matt Peters, a.k.a. FlareThaRebel and DJ Eternal, have been a masterful hip-hop duo for years, first as part of the scene in Kansas City, Mo., and now working in Chicago. The two freshmen—FlareThaRebel is a marketing communications major, DJ Eternal is in audio arts and acoustics—formed Anti-Crew after breaking off from their original group of six called The Disciples of Hip Hop. Lately, Anti-Crew has been playing local shows, but the two will be playing with the big boys in a few months when they open for Ludacris, Redman and Fat Joe at various venues.

The Chronicle: How did you guys decide to break off from The Disciples of Hip Hop?

FlareThaRebel: In that group was myself and DJ, and we were always noted as having the best chemistry onstage together. We were best friends in the group and did a lot of work outside of the Disciples. Disciples broke up and that’s when Anti-Crew was put together.

How did you get into hip-hop?

F: My biggest influences were my two older brothers. We were all born in Brooklyn, and the hip-hop, the culture was just thriving around us. We were born into it, and it was a means of expression.

DJ Eternal: My dad played for the Kansas City Symphony, so I was already interested in music, and I was taking piano lessons. When I started making music, hip-hop just happened to be the kind of music that I started to make. I really didn’t listen to a ton of hip-hop when I was younger, but when I started to get older I got more into it. My oldest brother influenced me; it’s where I got my first record, Method Man and Redman How High.

Why did you guys come to Chicago, and what do you think of its hip-hop scene?

F: Galapagos4 is a Chicago record label, and we’ve actually opened for them in Kansas City. So we’ve actually brought Chicago artists to our city and performed with them. We’ve had a few connections to the scene. We think it’s a thriving scene. It’s really big, not just locally in Chicago but in the Midwest area. A lot of other cities know about the underground hip-hop scene in Chicago. Part of being in the scene [is that] we really like what’s going on here in Chicago, hip-hop wise.

D: Both of our majors have good reputations at the school, and that plays a big factor. [Chicago] seemed like a bigger outlet than Kansas City. At the same time it’s not too far away.

How do you feel about playing with Ludacris, Redman and Fat Joe?

F: I don’t think we’re nervous; we’re just really excited about it, because we’ve been doing this for some time, and this is definitely the biggest opportunity for us. As far as preparing for it, we’re just making sure that it gets press [so] people know that this is going on. Of course there’s always work to do—when you’re opening for someone like Ludacris you gotta be on your “A� game.

You’re both pretty young, at 18 and 19. How does age affect your audience?

D: I think it definitely helps us out, age wise. A lot of venues are 21-and-up, so because we knew people in the scene, we were able to talk to them and bring in a lot of people. So we were actually booked for a lot of shows because we can bring in a wider range. That made it better for us to be able to have all-ages shows.

F: Yeah, definitely. That’s one thing that’s actually noticed about us a lot, because of our age and how young we are. We were already pretty big in our scene in Kansas City. I think just because in our scene we were really connected with everyone else—we had outlets that worked out for us. - The Columbia Chronicle, Chicago, IL


"Anti-Crew Progressive Movement: A Step Forward"

As its title suggests, Anti-Crew's Progressive Movement is an eloquently left-leaning effort. MC Flare Tha Rebel assassinates presidential policies, takes aim at gun violence and sideswipes idiots who fear public transportation. However, A Step Forward modestly underestimates the mammoth-stomp impact of this expertly produced debut disc. Flare and his beat creator and occasional lyrical cohort DJ Eternal play with grunge-style soft-loud dynamics during their choruses and experiment with everything from bouncy, bass-anchored club jams to tense piano-and-kick-drum backdrops. Anti-Crew even scores with its hidden track, a hilariously accurate crunk parody built on the shout-along hook of its title, "Stick Your Ass Out the Window." A compelling storyteller, Flare excels at creating "Waterfalls"-style cautionary scenarios. He's not as cuddly as some conscious rappers -- he spits expletives with prickly passion -- but the edge serves the songs well. On one cut, the duo chants, Potential ain't shit unless you do something with it. Anti-Crew has converted its promise into an essential album. - The Pitch, Andrew Miller


"Anti-Crew Presents: Dat's Wassup Mix Tape"

Anti-Crew are back, not with a proper full length album, but with a "mix tape"-type function. In other words, you could call Dat's Wassup!!! a teaser for what they have planned later in the year. What I liked about these guys before is how their lyrics and music together sounds right. What I can't stand are people who just slap any kind of verbal junk over hot and steamy beats, or sloppy beats over well written words and it just sounds like a hot mess. These guys, representing the Kansas City hip-hop scene, know how to do things right and I'm glad these guys haven't given up for the sake of being crunkier. Their sound is much more tighter this time around, not that it was sloppy before (because it wasn't), but if anyone had any doubts that they weren't ready to take their careers to the next level, this CD will remove them. "Keep Talkin'", which teams them up with Mac Lethal, has the feel of the music from the early 1990's. You never really hear "down home" when it comes to hip-hop (and those that are called "down home" are anything but), but you feel as if you've entered a comfort zone with these guys, and they can do no wrong...What I like about their writing style is how they can talk the talk, but never overstep their boundaries. If it's not what they're about, they're not going to talk about it. If it's a fantasy tale, they'll let you know. What they'll also let you know is how it is in KC, as they do in "KC Shuffle" with Joe Good, Approach, Brother Of Moses, Lucid, Qan, Reach, and Ubiquitous. It's all about the battle of words and wit, but they manage to keep their egos in check for the spirit of the song, which lets listeners know the KC hip-hop scene is not to be fucked with. This mix tape could have easily been released as a proper Anti-Crew album. If this is just something to throw out to the fans in the meantime, the world may not be ready for what they're currently putting together. It's dangerous.
-Da Bookman (John Bookman), Musicforamerica.org - Music for America, John Bookman


Discography

LP
"The Progressive Movement: A Step Forward"

Mix Tape
"Anti-Crew Presents: Dat's Wassup Mix Tape"

EP
"Foundation"

LP
"Foundation: Expansion Plan"

Photos

Bio

College roommates at their finest, Chicago-based band Anti-Crew combines genres with a conformity defying sound that wins over fans wherever they go. Lead MC FlareThaRebel, guitarist Pat Attack, bassist Cambo, and drummer Archangel each come from a different musical background, which creates an eclectic style that knows no boundaries.

Their newest release, Foundation: Expansion Plan, is Hip-Hop at the core with a cross-genre sound that encompasses the essence of live instrumentation blended well with original sampling and turntablism. Combined with lyrical versatility, it’s hard not to fall for the slew of catchy grooves and harmonizing hooks that get stuck in your head after the first listen.

In addition to their recorded music, Anti-Crew is known for their highly energetic live show. With rock star charisma, Anti-Crew is among the best when it comes to crowd interaction and capturing an audience for the first time. Their focus on showmanship has lead them to share the stage with an array of talented acts such as: J. Cole, Nappy Roots, Chiddy Bang, Fatlip of The Pharcyde, Mac Lethal, Catch 22, Kidz in the Hall, The Frantic, and Hey Champ. Anti-Crew has also performed at premier venues such as House of Blues Chicago, The Metro (Chicago), The Beaumont Club (Kansas City, MO), and many more. They are fierce performers that are otherwise the laid back group of guys you grew up hanging out with. “Anti-Crew captures a stage essence incomparable to most, giving the audience something they can walk away from with a lasting impression. – Moda FG (Chicago)”

RECENT GIGS INCLUDE:
2012
5/18 - Chicago, IL @ Uncle Fatty's
4/28 – Columbia, MO @ Mojo’s
4/27 – Kansas City, MO @ The Beaumont Club
4/26 – South Bend, IN @ Golden Gnome
4/20 – Chicago, IL @ Cubby Bear
3/29 – Normal, IL @ Illinois State University
2/16 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
2/01 - Chicago, IL @ Reggie's Rock Club (Opening for Chiddy Bang)

2011
10/09 - Chicago, IL @ Foundation Room (J. Cole Afterparty)
9/29 - Chicago, IL @ Ultra Lounge
9/16 - Chicago, IL @ Reggie's Rock Club (Opening up for Nappy Roots)
5/06 - Chicago, IL @ Secret Location (Album Release Party)