When music sparks the mind and stirs the soul, its impact and influence resonates long after the sounds fade from the speakers. It has the power to stick with you. Music can even change your outlook on life.
Cincinnati rap duo Czar-Nok know this, which is why they infuse their music with a deft mix of street commentary and soul-searching, much like their idols, rap icons and Memphis rap pioneers 8 Ball and MJG. "That's how we see ourselves, like them," says Hayczar, who is joined in Czar-Nok by E-Nok. "They're some real cats. They don't sound like clowns. They're about heavy-pimping and are in the streets, but they stand for something. We patterned ourselves off of them."
That influence is evident throughout Czar-Nok's debut album, the powerful That One Way. A popular phrase in Cincinnati, That One Way speaks to getting something done by any means necessary. "That's how we've been putting it down," Hayczar says. "All the streets dudes know our face, from corner to corner and hood to hood. It's That One Way."
Lead single "Hercules" contains an irresistible combination of sonic energy and lyrical self-assuredness. "It's fun and you can involve yourself in it," E-Nok says of the lively cut, whose chorus includes the celebratory lines: "I make my paper, paper don't make me/Be about your paper, be about your cheese." "That's what everybody's doing in the club," E-Nok continues, "having fun and getting crunk with the crowd participation."
Two other songs sure to get crowds moving with their engaging storylines and festive beats are the spunky, sensual "She Walked My Way" and the ingenious, keyboard-driven "Table Dance." Czar-Nok then speaks to the plight of those who try to leave the streets being on the emotional "Can't Get Out." "It's not easy once you've been doing your thing in the streets and you've got 100 people still calling your phone. You don't just walk away from that. It's a process."
That process extends to their player ways on the smoothed-out "Pimpin and Gansta" and the struggle the group documents on "Money Talks." On the latter, the group gets autobiographical as it explains its struggle to escape incarceration. As Hayczar says on the chorus of this gut-wrenching song, "It takes a briefcase to beat a case."
Elswhere, Czar-Nok takes it back to the clubs with another party-starter, the riotous "Throw Me That Pack," which was produced by and features Three 6 Mafia. With a driving beat and fiery flows from Czar-Nok and Three 6 Mafia, the song is sure to jump-start any party. "They're the originators of that crunk, that tear the club up style," Hayczar says of the Memphis-based Three 6 Mafia. "I used to live in Tennessee and I saw them take control of the club first. That was a big thing."
By offering people a firsthand look into their sometimes volatile lives, Czar-Nok gives listeners something to identify with. "Our songs have real feelings," E-Nok says. "People may look to us for the pimping, but we also bring a lot of important subjects to their music. We talk about life. Its street and you can find out what's going on out there. We give you life lessons in the process."
Growing up in Cincinnati, Hayczar and E-Nok realized that life was indeed a process. They went to high school together and shared a strong love for music that they each got from their parents. After getting tremendous positive feedback from their friends and acquaintances in the 'Natti, the duo realized that they had the talent and determination to leave the streets behind. Hayczar chose to use his street name (a play off of czar) as his rap moniker, while E-Nok got his name from a Biblical figure lauded by God.
Once they hatched their rap dreams, E-Nok took the initiative and started going to the studio and recorded some early material. He then turned his friend Hayczar on to the recording process. Both were soon hooked on making music and dedicated their energy into writing raps with meaning and purpose. Their work soon paid off as they joined forces with Los Vegas and formed Locdown Records, building a buzz in Cincinnati and later the rest of the Midwest.
"We kept going and just making music," Hayczar explains. "We kept traveling, stayed on the road and would put it down. We used to get a rental and go to Chicago and perform, just getting closer as a group with the music."
Several major league record companies began courting Czar-Nok. They signed with industry powerhouse Capitol Records. Czar-Nok's funky song "Beauty Queen" was then featured on the acclaimed Coach Carter soundtrack, which features material from Twista, Faith Evans, Fabolous and others.
Now, with the buzz surrounding That One Way building, Czar-Nok is ready to make its mark on hip-hop history. "We're about to change the game," E-Nok says. "We're going to make it to where more complete artists can get out there because it seems like there's just one type of dude doing it right now."
And Czar-Nok will do it That One Way.
--- from the official Czarnok website