A few months ago when I was compiling a list for Top 5 Underground MCs of Q1, I listed The Cranberry Show as a duo that was on my radar. Granted, at that time, I knew absolutely nothing more than that they had a great album called Paranormal Karaoke.
Two-twos, and they’ve performed at SXSW 2012, smashed SOBs, have been covered by critically acclaimed publications and are about to share the stage with the likes of Nas, Yelawolf and Black Star for the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival in August.
While most young rappers are trying to be something they’re not, I appreciate The Cranberry Show immensely for being nothing other than who they are. Two kids from Milwaukee, WI with amazing ears for production, incredible bars and refreshing music. Get to know them and the tom-foolery I’ve been fortunate to come to know. And of course, check out their album Paranormal Karaoke immediately. No excuses, it’s free and here’s the link!
Oh, and let me put a disclaimer: PARENTAL ADVISORY.
There are still a number of people who have absolutely no idea who The Cranberry Show is, so I’m going to ask you to describe each other…
Arcane : Fuck this question in the face! Lol, nah, Focus is an awesome kid. He has a great ear for music and is a fresh song writer.
Young Focus: Lol…well I guess I can just start by sayin Arcane is fucking rude. But he does his own thing though, despite what others may say, like wear small shorts or pull over hoodies with the sleeves cut off, lol. One time he used a balloon and a rubberband as a condom.
Arcane: That wasn’t me, that was you Focus.
Young Focus: Oh.
Well with that being said, lol…to follow up with that question, how would you describe your music in comparison to 90’s hip-hop and the majority of the BS on the radio? Where does your music fall?
Arcane: I don’t think our music is 90’s hip-hop sounding, but it compares from an originality stand point. Like everything that came out in that time was refreshing. That’s what our music does in this day in age.
Young Focus: Yea, I agree with Arcane. And maybe from a lyrical standpoint as well. We like to give people a show when we do a song, and what’s a show without an ill dialogue? So we don’t slack on our lyricism just because it’s not a “lyrical song”. Our music is what the radio should play, fuck them other niggas.
Arcane: *Randomly sings* FUCK THEM OTHER NIGGAS CUZ I’M DOWN FOR MY NIGGAS!
Too damn true. Speaking of the sound of your music, what do you look for when choosing the beats for your music? They seem to lend themselves to a lot of theatrics…
The Cranberry Show: It’s all about the feeling, we just go with what feels right. 90% of the time we sit with a producer and construct an instrumental from the ground up. And if an instrumental is sent to us, we tell that producer what we would like changed. We like our shit tailored to us so that it’s a better experience for the listener.
Considering one of the purposes of a cranberry is to cleanse the system, how would you say your music is cleansing the hip-hop industry at this moment?
TCS: We want to bring creativity back to hip-hop. Right now everything is the same cookie-cutter like experience – from rappers, songs and to the videos. We wanna bring something new.
Since Milwaukee isn’t a hip-hop hub, who did you grow up listening to? What was the defining moment where you both decided you wanted to be artists?
Arcane: I grew up listening to a lot of Jay-Z. But as I get older, I listen to a lot of artists that speak their mind no matter what people think of them. i.e. Kanye West, Wale, Waka and The Pack.
Young Focus: Rap wasn’t really allowed in my house, so I grew up on Motown & the down home blues. But my older brother used to always rap and he wrote me a rap one time and then I knew I wanted to be an MC. But when I did get a hold of some rap, it was all Jay-Z for a young player like myself.
Since releasing Paranormal Karaoke at the beginning of the year, you guys have performed at SXSW, as well as the infamous SOBs. What have you been able to take away from the past 6 months?
TCS: That hard work honestly pays off, we work our asses off. No going out to clubs, not taking breaks, not slacking on our music or live performances, not even going on dates. We work hard. Girls hate us ’cause we put music over everything.
You guys also aren’t stressing about putting out new music every week, much less monthly. Do you think consistently released music via way of singles and mixtapes is detrimental to the longevity of an unsigned artist/group?
TCS: Yea, we’ve made a conscious decision to not be THOSE kind of rappers. There was a period in our short careers where we were releasing mixtapes monthly, but we realized quality over quantity is better as an artist. We would rather make one INCREDIBLE track over 50 so-so tracks. It takes time to construct the music we make and we refuse to half-ass it. But it’ll always be worth the wait. And it may not be detrimental to an artist because the game is so fucked up, that people have become ok with mediocrity.
If you were to put on other artists/producers from the Mid-West, specifically Milwaukee, who would we be checking out for?
TCS: Producers = We would have to say Plaga, Klassik, 40 mil and our big homie NOV of Smash Boiz. Artists = Vonny Del Fresco and Dee Fresh.
If you could put together a supergroup (made up of either artists, producers or both), that also included yourselves, who would it consist of?
Arcane: Mickey Mouse, Air Bud and Pikachu. Think about how many markets we’d cover with that line up.
Young Focus: Mine would just be me, Smokey Robinson and the year 1965. (Yea, I’m the first nigga to put a year in my super group!)
Debate: Cranberry cocktail or concentrated cranberry juice?
Arcane: I’m an Apple Cranberry on the rocks kinda nigga. But I have to say concentrate, it just tastes bettter.
Young Focus: Vagina juice.
I did warn y’all about parental advisory, right? So, say your gift of gab got taken away by some paranormal activity…what element of hip-hop would you try to immerse yourself in?
Arcane: A giant beatbox…That shit changed the game.
Young Focus: I’d try to produce, even though I suck at that shit.
Finally, what’s on deck for the rest of the year?
TCS: Mainly shows. We want to start touring by the time next year rolls around, plus we’re going to release a lot of visual content instead of songs. We think that’ll be ill.
Man…how does one even end this interview? Just go listen to their album, follow them on twitter and keep an eye out. But truly, a thousand shoutouts to The Cranberry Show for simply keeping it real.