By Drew Ailes
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By Kenny Snarzyk
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Carbondale was where he met Serengeti and Hi-Fidel, for whom he would produce Dirty Flamingoand Traveling Between St. Louis and Chicago, respectively. The latter spawned the single "Tenth Wonderful," which sold out two press-runs of 1,000 copies, becoming one of F5's biggest-selling releases.
A remix of the song is on Test Presses, whose title refers to the initial, label-less productions of a record, designed to give the artist a chance to evaluate the audio. (A dub plate, meanwhile, is an acetate prototype of an LP.)
The album itself is a reflection on Crucial's technical sojourn through the hip-hop landscape. Its final song, "Immaculate Anticipation," was originally recorded with Hi-Fidel, who ended up unsatisfied with his performance. Filling in for him was Katt Davis who, along with his brother Jia, was half of seminal local duo Bits N Pieces. Crucial recorded Katt Davis' rhymes about six months before he was killed by a St. Louis police officer, shortly after allegedly attempting to steal a car.
The devastating tragedy was seemingly compounded later by a technical problem. Shortly after Katt Davis' death, the final version of "Immaculate Anticipation" was ruined by a file error on Crucial's hard drive. For Test Presses, he was forced to use a rough version, recorded earlier. But, like many of Crucial's songs, it sparkles even without polish.
"The audio may not be where it should be, but the quality of the lyrics and music is definitely high," he says. "No matter how bad something sounds, if it's good, it's good."