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Not averse to ignoring hip-hop conventions, Los Angeles upstart MC Blu (Johnson Barnes) and offbeat producer/rapper Ta'Raach (Terrell McMathis), a Detroit-to-L.A. transplant, began collaborating as C.R.A.C (pronounced "crass") in 2005. Blu and Ta'Raach were both labelmates at L.A. indie Sound In Color and met while recording their respective projects. They hastily put together the beginnings of what would be their debut album, The Piece Talks, in 2005 and used it on the road to sell at live shows starting in summer 2006. The following year, Blu shot into the national spotlight, albeit for underground hip-hop, with the critically acclaimed collaboration with DJ/producer Exile entitled Below the Heavens. Blu used the publicity to shine more light on C.R.A.C. (aka C.R.A.C. Knuckles). And by that time, the proper recording of The Piece Talks was about completed; plus, vocalist Noni Limar was added as the group's third member. Due to disputes over the handling of Below the Heavens, Ta'Raach and Blu took their debut LP over to Tres Records for a proper release in spring 2008. ~ Cyril Cordor