"Basement to the Boulevard" is an incredible journey in modern northern soul music. From the opening metronome of the first track "Soul Cafe", it's clear that you're set to take a wonderful ride with Diz Crown! Diz has become an inspiration to all who know him and is paving new ground with his unique sound; one that recognizes the past and fully represents the future of Chicago R&B/Urban Jazz.
Born and raised on the south side, Diz Crown (born: Steve McGill) knows the ups and downs of a hard economy. He's survived unforgiving times on the streets of Englewood, one of Chicago's more infamous regions. Through it all, there were many sources of inspiration growing up found in the musicians within his own family as well as talented friends on the scene. He learned to play piano at the age of 3 and never looked back! So, let's fast forward....
As front man for the Runawayz, Diz first hit became an anthem in Steppers' clubs throughout Chicago as well as midwest markets. "I Just Can't Believe" is being played at every steppers' party and is known for its faster tempo which is Diz's style: turning the party up! Asked what he wants to accomplish, Diz will tell you: "Music stretches the imagination. Let it take you wherever you want to go. I want to make people get lost in it! I love that DJs are feeling it already because it is a communal thing...an experience!" This liberty also extends to his view of the current state of the music industry: "This digital freedom is the best thing that's happened to music. Real talk, within the old record system this album probably wouldn't exist. CDBaby and it's counterparts offer legitimate opportunities to artists like myself to have control of what we do and touch peple directly."
Like the artist Kem who has resurrected soul music on urban radio, Diz is looking to push the boundaries of R&B/Soul/Jazz and usher in a new wave of listeners hungry for a new thing!
As a staple in the local scene in Chicago, Diz has honed his smooth voice, incredible keyboard skills, acoustic guitar chops and bass playing utilized throughout this CD. His arrangements are smouldering on tracks like "Morning Comes Too Soon", then suddenly retro-house joyous on "Get Up Feel A New Thing". Versatility shines on every track, considering he handles production, vocals & most of the instrumentation himself!
And let's not short the crew that's always got his back, the Runawayz: Brian Dunn on drums is like Chi-Town's answer to Questlove...Everett Newchurch & Chris Morgan with their wicked trumpets...and Eddie Dunn laying down searing sax solos (check out the end of "Morning Comes Too Soon" especially)!
As an artist with HiddenScroll Entertainment, Diz is taking his product where record companies wouldn't think to go. "It's fun to show up in small clubs and steppers sets all over the midwest! Soon my band the Runawayz will be taking it all over the nation. To watch the people react as we come in to do our thing, there no matching that. We get so much love; we want to give it right back because we know no one owes us anything out there. To get people's attention is an honor! We appreciate them stopping in and vibing with us. But we're like, 'Hey I'm right where you are dancing and partying with you We make it hot together!' "
Now back to that 'pushing the boundaries' thing. "Favorite Sin" gives a nod to Lenny Kravitz, while the new remix of "I Just Can't Believe" boasts an amazing Dr. Buzzard style motif (hey all you classic R&B/acid jazz enthusiasts, check that)! Then we have "Better Leave Us Alone"...This is now second single being lifted off the CD by the DJs in the two-step & northern soul community and it's complete with a doo-wop breakdown straight outta the back alley! This is quite a range yet it all hangs together cohesively. "All the music I wrote, the only thing I focused on was not the radio but the street. That person having a backyard party. Somebody driving down the road with this on. The person in the club, how this would hit them. Keeping it as real as possible but also challenging them to...uh..get up and feel a new thing!"
It's evident R&B/Soul/Jazz has found it's new thing to take it to that next level. "Basement To The Boulevard" will definitely set a blazing trail for music with Diz Crown navigating. Prepare for the great ride....!