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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Rustoes - Rapping With Color
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When it comes to the four elements of hip-hop, DJing and emceeing have always been the most connected. Even in this age of computer proliferation it’s pretty impossible to imagine an emcee without a DJ. But what if graffiti and emceeing were just as connected?

That’s a question posed, and answered, by New Britain hip-hop duo Rustoes.

Rustoes, who are the team of Left-hands and Cre808, have created their own sub-genre of hip-hop they define as “graffiti rap.” According to Left-Hands “it’s a very live, very colorful, very diverse style of rapping where we can embrace all elements of hip-hop, and all elements of life in general, and just make it into this huge hodgepodge of graffiti rap.”

The graffiti influence for Left-hands and Cre808 came before they ever picked up a mic. The two met their freshman year of high school at the no longer in existence St. Thomas Aquinas of New Britain. Left-hands remembers “we were both very interested in graffiti. That’s what brought us together initially. From there rappin was more of a side thing. The main thing was graff. Many years went by and we developed our skills as emcees and it came to a point where we just started making music together and recording together.”

As the two developed their graffiti rap concept, they chose a name for their group that is both a reference to their initial influence, and their musical style. Rustoes comes from the graffiti staple of the rusto cap. “A rusto cap is the one cap in graffiti that’s white and the dot in the middle is orange, and it has grooves in it” Left-hands explains, “this cap makes for big huge letters, mostly for bombing.” Cre808 adds the cap “was created for a steady, heavy, flow.”

Much like the rusto was created for a steady, heavy, flow, Rustoes create music that has a steady, heavy, flow. In 2007 they released their debut album, Lo & Behold, and last year they put out a collaborative effort with a number of other local emcees, titled Rap’s out of Control! Even before those albums Cre808 had his hand, and voice, in a number of other projects as a member of the hip-hop collective FilthyKleen.

Although very much alike in many respects, Left-hands and Cre808 note listeners can easily tell them apart when they’re on the mic. Cre808’s rhymes, according to Left-hands, wrap all his ideas up “in a way that you can really swallow it,” while Cre808 says Left-hands is more of an abstract emcee who is unafraid to work controversial topics into his rhymes that are “definitely a part of life you have to deal with.”

Those who saw Rustoes at the Acoustic Cafe in June, at a show that also featured Sketch Tha Cataclysm, Seme Rock and Bisco Smith, may have noticed something else unique about Left-hands; the way in which he reps his hometown. It doesn’t take a keen eye to see it, but it takes a knowledge of local minor league baseball to know what it means. Left-hands frequently wears a New Britain Rock Cats cap at shows, and June’s show was no exception to this. “Just having something that represents New Britain is a huge step for New Britain,” he explains, “so I will always forever rock a Rock Cats hat.”

While his Rock Cats hat may be a near constant, the one thing the duo will be forever changing is their sound. “You can’t get comfortable with a certain sound that you hear from us,” explains Cre808, “because it will most likely progress and change and get better because we are creative outlets, so it’s not just about rapping bars over beats. The whole thing is a wide open mural, so it’s always gonna be developing.”

A wide open mural, which is perfect for graffiti writing with a rusto, or the graffiti raps of Rustoes. Either way, it’s bound to be colorful.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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