On Wednesday, May 20, senior Studio Art major Eric Crawford dropped his new tape, “The Joy of the Game.” This project had been in the works for over a year now, though at the end of the tape he says he’s been working on it for three years.
“Really the three years came from just working on myself, because really it’s not just about the rap part, it’s about being a better you. That’s another significant part about the joy of the game, it’s really a journey,” said Crawford. “It’s a journey from your lower to your higher self, for me at least. It was about being a better me, whether that’s being a better student, whether it’s being a better athlete, it’s putting that work into whatever you’re trying to do to get to that next level. That’s what the joy of the game really means.”
He says the message behind “The Joy of the Game” is all about “keeping the faith.”
“You can be in college, you can make change on campus, you can make change in your community, just by keeping that faith. I’ve got a track on there called “Thank the Man,” and I think that track really gets that message across.” Crawford’s faith is a huge part of what motivates him to make music, and what keeps him going throughout the process, not just of making music, but of being a college student.
There is also a lot of significance behind the title of this album. “About a year ago, I had gone through a period of depression, but I was always one of those people that was like, depression isn’t real, get your ass up. But when it really hits you, and you start questioning, I just kind of had to pull myself out of it, but I wouldn’t have been able to pull myself out of it if I didn’t have any faith at all that things will get better. On top of that, I’ve been playing basketball all my life, it’s the game. Rap game, basketball game, it’s a game, you know?”
For Crawford, it’s all about improving himself, being a better student, a better athlete, “It’s about putting that work into whatever you’re trying to do to get to that next level. That’s what the joy of the game really means.”
When he first started rapping, Crawford was working at Walmart, pushing carts. “We didn’t have shit to do. So I was just rapping in my head, like playing beats in my head going over bars, and then I’d take those bars and write them down later when I got back home, or just go and spit them on the mic, whatever, you know.”
He practices every day, and records most of his tracks at the WVKC studio, on the fourth floor of George Davis Hall.
The Recording Studio Engineer, senior Griffin Belzer, is only in the studio for a certain amount of hours a day, so Crawford works with a limited amount of time in the studio. “I’ve got to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Usually it’s like two hours, two and a half hours, so I usually have my verses ready, or pre-written, or I try to at least, and I have Griffin mix the stuff up, and whatever happens after that, happens.”
He also collaborates with other student artists at Knox, like sophomore Marcellis Davis, whose stage name is Cello. “I collaborate with people all the time, like Cello, whoever is in the studio at the time, sometimes we’ll write some stuff, and then just go spit it, that’s usually how most of my collaborations come about.”
Crawford has also collaborated with Chicago artist Aya Smith. “Probably one of my favorite tracks is one I did with Aya. Me and Griffin were trying to get that out there on a deadline, and it was just tough, but we got it done. But that was one of my favorite memories, because it felt like it was a milestone. At this point I’d never met her in person, Griffin just told me about her so I sent her the beat and she did her thing on it, and it turned out to be a hit.”
When preparing for a show, he treats it like a game. “A lot of times I’m drinking a lot of water before, and just going over the verses in my head prepping, and once you’re on stage you just feel out the crowd. And you just kind of go, you just play the game.”
Like many artists, Crawford says he does get some nerves before going on stage.
He says, “Most of my nerves come from butterflies in my stomach, like before the actual performance, but then once I get up there, it’s like, alright, just start rapping. I usually like to get straight to work, just go in right away.”
This summer, he plans on doing a lot of promotion for “The Joy of the Game.” “I’m trying to get some shows together and connect with some people, link up with probably Aya again, go to her shows, just do my own stuff. I’m going to be working on an EP, I’ve got a few names for it, but I’m not going to drop anything right now.”
Currently, you can find his music on SoundCloud, at CrawTheSage, and on Twitter.