The Crest
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The Crest

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"The Crest 'Skeptik' (review)"

By: Mike SOS

Midwest rapping brother duo The Crest have been at it since 1997, but SKEPTIK is the outfit’s first taste of national exposure. Like most rap albums, a slew of guests lending perspectives adorn these 18 tracks, but the real spotlight shines on Jack Cracker and AD, whose rhyme schemes and verbal barrages are reminiscent of a certain other white rapper that hails from Detroit. Dropping knowledge on social and political topics that range from the Iraqi War to corporate America’s stranglehold on media and big business, The Crest’s lyrical flow may be a far cry away from good times rhymes, but the backbeat behind it all makes your head bob and your body move, even though you’re getting educated in the process.
- In Music We Trust, Inc.

"The Crest's "Skeptik" exceeds high expectations"

The Crest have been the foundation of Madison’s hip hop scene for years, combining an impressive work ethic with a unique, steadily evolving sound that combines some of the best elements of underground hip hop: political consciousness, battlerapper intensity and cockiness, technical skill, unique voices and pure charisma into a package that is both accessible to casual listeners and exciting to hardcore hip hop heads. Because of all these factors, the group (composed of brothers AD and Jack Cracker, along with DJ Skrabble) has managed to build a strong following in Madison and elsewhere in the Midwest.

Years of hard work - performing shows, recording albums, touring and more - have culminated in a deal with Uprising Records and a major US distribution deal for The Crest's new album, "Skeptik." While the pressure to both create a quality album and represent for Madison - a city all but unknown in the hip hop world - may seem like quite a lot to deal with, "Skeptik" is an album that lives up to, and indeed surpasses, the hype. And whether or not The Crest ends up "putting Madison on the map," they definitely have something to be proud of with this album.

AD and Jack Cracker have always been great pure rappers - their ability to rhyme using complex rhyme schemes and interesting flow patterns is unsurpassed in Madison and rivals the best in the business anywhere. On past releases, this fancy rhyming has, at times, overshadowed the lyrical content, but on "Skeptik," the duo successfully blends amazing wordplay with meaningful lyrics, no small feat. Content on the album ranges from extremely on-point political vitriol to sweet love songs to pure flexing, and the brothers never sound out of their element. Indeed, The Crest's everyman vibe and ability to wear a lot of different lyrical hats are two of their biggest selling points.

The political content on the album is definitely a highlight. Refusing to regurgitate the tired "Fuck Bush" or "Start the Revolution" rhetoric that so many underground emcees fall back on, The Crest opts instead for well-developed and intelligent - yet no less venomous - political commentary. They even sample Noam Chomsky on the title track, one of the album's strongest cuts. Other politically focused tracks include "Kill 'em," which deals with war from the soldier's perspective and questions the meaning of patriotism, and "Mr.," which features Supa Ranks and explores the power of the media and its relationship to government. Even the album's secret track, which isn't all that political overall, opens with these bars: "the unripened life of my writin' heightens my need for vices/ but no turkey slices since they been strikin' at Tyson…"

Production on the album is handled by Jayson Blare and Skrabble, and is consistently banging, particularly in a club setting. The tracks have a kind of energy and vitality that is often missing from albums that contain great lyrical content. Again, The Crest find a way to combine two all-too-often disparate elements. Guests on “Skeptik” include emcees Eyedea, Carnage, Supa Ranks, Chi-do and Mic Virus, singer Jen McCoy, and keyboardist Aaron Konkol (of Dumate and Natty Nation).

Two release parties mark this album. The first was at Luther's Blues Friday night, and the next one will be at the High Noon this coming Sunday the 12th. The Crest put on a fantastic, energetic live show, and the beats on "Skeptik" sound even better on a huge sound system. If you missed the Luther's show, definitely check out the High Noon show. Minnesota emcee Carnage, who appears on the album, and local favorite Dumate will also perform.

As a competing emcee, the highest praise I can give a group like The Crest is that as much as I may want to hate on them, I can't. They're just too damn good. "Skeptik" isn't just a great local hip hop album, it's a great hip hop album. Period. Don't sleep on The Crest.


"'Skeptik' album review"

Alright this weeks review is for the really underground heads.

Some people might not know of this group or the members but if you follow
the Scribble Jam events then you should know about Jack Cracker. He's 1/2 of
the group 'The Crest' alongside his brother A.D. and is the pioneer of
Wiscompton. Showing the midwest although not so "gangsta" can get down and

The Crests first somewhat major label release, thanks to Uprising Records,
'Skeptik' is a solid effort and just plain enjoyable beginning to end. The
two brothers rock the mic while all tracks are produced by Jayson Blare and
Skrabble turns the tables when needed. The first song 'Back to the Basics'
is somewhat a tribute to the old boom bap generation of hip-hop. A.D. starts
it off with a flow that is sort of slow and sounds like a drunk slur, believe
me thats a positive this time. Then Jack Cracker brings his higher pitched
quick tongued flow and talks about bringing hip-hop back to what it was. The
track also features Mic Virus who provides a solid 16 for his verse.
'Heart Shaped Box' is the title of the next song, very bouncy and upbeat
which is the opposite i thought it would be, per Nirvana's grunge hit. This
track has a sweet voice from a females voice in the background doing simple
" la, la, la's but it brings so much more depth to the song than you'd think.
The next few songs kind of dwindle down the pace from the first ones. Mostly
due to a interlude, Skrabble's own scratchfest and a lack of energy. But
picks back up at the cut called 'Skeptik' hence the album title. Which has
both emcees talking about the glitz and glamour.
Although Jack Cracker does most the rhyming his brother takes the cake with
this quoteable...
" Rap you never heard before, apple with a worm in core. Adam's here to
serve it raw, packaged in your local store". Then the hook is laced with
Skrabble's scratches DJ Primoish style, with samples from Redman and Andre
3000. The next few songs are fast paced and keep you on the edge of your
seat or whatever the fuck you people sit on these days. Especially the track
titled 'L-Ascorbic Acid' which i thought would suck since the title does.
Boy was I wrong. It features two of the most respected quick spitters of the
underground in Eyedea and Carnage. All i can say is that it's a flow lovers
wet dream!

The middle of the album begins to slow down again with interludes and one
cheesy song about having sex with fat chicks, see Blueprints 1988 for a
better example. But picks back up on the controversial tip with 'MR.' and
the last track 'Kill em'. The first mentioned got stories of talkin to "the
man" as us middle and lower class people know him as ;-) and how the world
is just plain messed up. Inbetween these two songs is another noteworthy one
celebrating the independent hip-hop scene, called Independent. This has my
favorite beat of the whole album, it sounds like machineary in a factory
slamming on and on. The drums are ridiculous, you could sing the happy
birthday song over this and I'd buy that shit! But they don't Jack and A.D.
both know what it's like at the bottom and being indie and tell thier tales.
Jack Cracker rips the holy hell outta the beat with this line.." Hip-Hop for
profit got my radio locked in a closet. And thank god i can't pick locks or
i woulda had it dropkicked.I rock this without a band an a mosh pit, i got
this mastered like Miyagi with the chopsticks." That track just flat out

The last, and my favorite, highlight of Skeptik is 'Kill em'. If you can
remember Slug and Prime on their song "Lambslaughter" chanting " kill'em,
fucking kill'em, kill'em already... kill'em!" picture that but sung
brilliantly by a females voice over an acoustic beat. Then add in some talk
about how the country sends young troops to war killing many innocent
civilians, how it kills them and kills the families hearts of all involved.
Real deep message and almost modern satire the way the hook's sang with
beautiful vocals. It really makes you listen and press repeat.
So yeah this album is strong, it has some of the freshest beats and rhymes
together mixed up with a couple tracks that shoulda been reworked a bit. But
definitely a worthy album for any hip-hop fiends album collection. Don't be a
skeptik and buy the friggin thing! -



Family Ties (1999)
Cheese N Crackers (2000)
Crestmail (2000)
Not 4 Sale (2001)
Sublimation (2001)
Hats Off (2002)
Misguided Recordings (2002)
Not 4 Sale 2 (2003)
Binge Thinking (2003)
Wiscompton Vol. 1 (2004)
Liberty Bomb (2004)
Skeptik (2005)
Not 4 Sale 3 (2006)


Roadtrip Nation (PBS, 2007)
NBA 2k7 (2ksports, 2007, video game)
'Higher Ground' (Warren Miller, 2006, snowboard/ski video)
'Tangerine Dream' (TGR, 2006, snowboard/ski video)



The Crest (AD, Jack Cracker, DJ Skrabble, and Jayson
Blare) have been pioneering hip hop in their hometown
Madison and all throughout Wisconsin. Their Mid-West
vibe and everyday feel has won over fans that are more
diverse than the traditional hip hop crowd. Success
has been a long time in the making for The Crest. AD
and Jack Cracker are brothers that grew up with a love
for hip hop in the early 80’s which began with break
dancing and over time molded into rhyming.

Since first hitting a real studio in 1997, The Crest
has released 11 self distributed albums. Music from
these releases won The Crest three John Lennon
Songwriting Contest Awards (2001-2003) and one
Independent Music Award (2000). In 2002 During the
recording of “Binge Thinking” rappers AD and Jack
Cracker met producers DJ Skrabble and Jayson Blare.
The foursome clicked musically and began to take their
sound to an even higher level. This fusion landed The
Crest a recording contract with Uprising Records, a
diverse label which has been home to artists such as
Fall Out Boy, Stretch Armstrong and Ricanstruction. In
June 2005 The Crest dropped their national debut
“Skeptik” on Uprising Records. “Skeptik” was written
over an intense six month period, and uses a lot of
live instrumentation throughout. The group has
performed hundreds of shows through out the Mid-West
including a few Vans Warped Tours, and is noted for
their intense live performances and freestyles.