In Search of Lost Time

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In Search of Lost Time
In Search of Lost Time cover.PNG
Studio album by DJ Crow
Released March 5, 2017
Recorded June 2014—January 2017
Genre Hip hop
Length 57:35
Label Colossal Records
Producer DJ Crow (exec.), Greg Wright, ID Kard, Jarvis Gibson, Mickey Mau5, Skyman, Pilloww, Terrain da Don, Thunder Bay, Yusei, TrillBron
DJ Crow chronology
Today's Declaration
(2013)
In Search of Lost Time
(2017)
BLANK.
(2018)
Singles from In Search of Lost Time
  1. "Brainstorm"
    Released: March 8, 2017
  2. "Flying Circus"
    Released: April 18, 2017
  3. "Trip to the Underworld"
    Released: June 3, 2017


In Search of Lost Time is the fifth studio album by Terrain rapper and producer DJ Crow. The album was released on March 5, 2017 through Colossal Records. It is the long-awaited album that follows Crow's last album Today's Declaration (2013) after a four-year hiatus. Crow recorded the album over a three-year period during a "self-imposed exile" from the music industry, beginning in June 2014. During that period Crow release no solo material whatsoever. The album was conceived and composed over a long period and recorded differently to all of Crow's previous albums, and also marks a significant shift from the focus of the grime genre. Instead, Crow enters new territories of music such as experimental jazz rap and funk. It conceptually follows the story of Crow on a journey of self-realisation, featuring numerous characters.

The release date marks 10 years since the release of Crow's first album, Crow - The Hard Times (2007). Originally, the album was intended to be a sequel to his debut effort. Instead of this, numerous sequel songs were made instead.

As executive producer, DJ Crow enlisted a range of producers, including the usuals Yusei, TrillBron and ID Kard, along with brand new producers Greg Wright from G Hood Crew, Jarvis Gibson and Skyman, among others. The album includes very unorthodox guest appearances from singers Bryan Fable, Delaine, Nevim, Anna Ice and Cadence, label artists Sink, Snowstorm and Flurry Lyne, rappers Beetle, Nebulent and Omar Grest and musicians Thunder Bay and Shade the Puffolian. Many of the artists role-play characters in relation to the story of the album.

Reception for the album was subject to unanimous critical acclaim, with many publications labelling it as "art" and the best piece of music of the 21st century. It was ranked as the best album of 2017 by numerous critics. It surpassed Today's Declaration (2013) as Crow's best-reviewed album, although it is not the fans' favourite, and is not considered as enjoyable as Today's Declaration due to the level of attention the listener has to pay to the detail in the album. Noted by music writers for its dark theme and varied elements, In Search of Lost Time incorporates musical components from Crow's previous works but now also form a new sound that combines soul, baroque, electro, and symphonic elements, as well as Crow singing.

Background[edit]

In November 2013, Crow released his fourth album Today's Declaration to intense appraisal by fans and critics. The double-disc album was dubbed as Crow's best work to date. Therefore, Crow had set the bar high for his next record. After the success, Crow hinted that Today's Declaration would be his last album for a while as he wanted to focus on making material for the artists on his label, Colossal Records, and that wants to produce for other artists. This turned out to be the case as Crow released his final single, "Pressure", in January 2014. After that, Crow released no solo material for two years and only did a handful of guest appearances. This ended in July 2016, with the surprise release of the non-album cut "Late Summer". Crow worked on albums throughout 2014 to 2015 for Penguin Band (Cosmic), Rockhopper (Last Ship to Rockhopper Island), Cadence (4th Note), Tim and Tom (Therapy) and Nebulent (King's Figment). Colossal went from a one-artist label to one of the top independent record companies in Antarctica alongside the likes of Joe-Q's Stone Empire by the end of 2016. Flurry Lyne's debut project Lyneguistics (2015) did extremely well as did Sink's first release, Diagnosis (2016).

During the hiatus Crow found it difficult to begin the work for a new album. He suffered from stress and could not find any direction to go with. He spent little time in the spotlight, giving no interviews whatsoever and remained in the background for all the work he did.

Suddenly in early 2015, Yusei showed Crow a mural that he had painted. Crow was instantly inspired and began to work on another concept album that reflected his mindstate during his hiatus. After experimenting with over twenty titles, such as Late Summer, Black Rapsody, A Blank Canvas and COAST, Crow settled on In Search of Lost Time as it reflected his intentions on catching up with reality.

Through the internet Crow sought out new producers to help him create a new sound. He discovered Jarvis Gibson, Mickey Mau and Thunder Bay, all of which were invited to album sessions and sent beats to Crow. The team was soon gathered and they would all produce and create ideas together in the studio. Crow would work independently on projecting his mindstate into lyrics and narratives. In terms of guest vocalists, Crow gathered the likes of Colossal artists Snowstorm, Sink and Flurry Lyne, along with unconventional collaborations with Delaine, Nevim and Anna Ice. Everyone was encourage to provide vocals that would drive the narrative that Crow had in mind.

Details of the album were scarce. Eventually, in July 2016, Crow came out of the shadows by surprise-releasing a song on to iceTunes. He did not say much behind what the song was far, however the suggestion was that it was the lead single off his soon-to-be-released and long-awaited fifth album. This didn't prove to be the case and it was instead Crow warming up and gradually coming back into the spotlight. Crow went on to do this regularly up to October, titling these releases as Digital Nyts, paying homage to his old weekly Night Club event that propelled him to fame. But no information on an album was given.

Instead, the Colossal Records compilation album Colossal World was surprise-released out the blue in September 2016. This was a project that consisted of songs from Colossal artists, on which Crow appeared on a handful of songs. This was never the plan but the album spontaneously came into fruition as Crow wanted his label to be taken to the next level. The album done well and was well received by everybody, but it was not a DJ Crow album.

In early November, Crow mysteriously cheeted a wintery artistic landscape. This later proved to be the mural that Yusei painted, and was later given to Crow for the album. On February 31, 2017, Crow simply cheeted: "IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME." Everyone was certain that this was the album name. For the album booklet, Crow provided a picture of the paper on which he was considering album titles, displaying over 50 names and words jotted and scribbled on the page. He did this for numerous topics, such as song names, lyrics, drawings and conceptual ideas.

Information on the album was kept very securely so it was not leaked. No tracklist, album art or release date was announced by Crow. Therefore, there was very little promotion leading up to the release. In a few cheets, Crow tweeted "ACT I", "ACT II" and "ACT III", serving as clues for the album concept. When the album was released, the mural that Crow cheeted turned out to be the artwork for the album.

Composition[edit]

Song themes[edit]

Crow deals with a lot of thematic issues in the lyrics and narrative of the album. These include themes such as mental state, insecurities, reminiscing, good versus evil, battling inner demons, confusion, hope, being away from the music scene. These themes are all split across the three Acts of the album, giving a carefully considered structure to the album.

Guest appearances[edit]

Featured artists on In Search of Lost Time include Colossal rappers Flurry Lyne, Sink and Snowstorm, rappers Beetle, Omar Grest and Nebulent and singers Delaine, Nevim, Anna Ice, Shade the Puffolian, Cadence and Bryan Fable. Producer Thunder Bay is also featured and provides a range of processed vocals. Every rapper on the album is given either an extended verse or a short verse that fits in to the narrative of the album. However, all featured artists also give a variety of non-rapping or singing vocals, such as whispering, screaming and eerie voices that represent Crow's mind.

Every artist plays a character that Crow meets during his journey through the storm, split into evil characters and good characters. For example, on "Trip to the Underworld" guest vocals from Flurry Lyne and Omar Grest involve them playing the role of Crow's illusions, telling him lies and representing the evil that is corrupting him. Colossal rapper Snowstorm plays the good side and tells Crow to steer away and that it is all a dream.

On all tracks there are unidentified vocals by uncredited artists as well.

Album title[edit]

The album name In Search of Lost Time, on the surface, is a reflection of of Crow's absence from the music industry, having not released any solo material for over three years. It represents Crow seeking to gain back time and ground lost in terms of his touch with music and making something ground-breaking again, just like he did with Today's Declaration (2013).

However, the title is also the name of the concept story of the album. It follows Crow literally on a journey to rediscover time, among other concepts. The songs reflect the title and reference it at numerous moments.

Concept story[edit]

Crow continued the concept story theme for this album, following its success on Today's Declaration (2013). The story of In Search of Lost Time is about Crow re-entering the music world and finding himself lost, both psychologically and physically, in a snowstorm, unable to distinguish anything and forgot the meanings of many things (these things become themes of the album). Physically, he waddles through a snowstorm in UnitedTerra that disorientates him. In the beginning, he explores as he tries to figure out who he is and what his purpose is. During this, the snowstorm starts off calm, but then gradually becomes more violent and destructive as the album progresses, represented by the volume of the sound effects and mood of the songs. Along his way, he meets numerous penguins and has illusions that are represented by the guest appearances on the album whom play these characters, all split into good and evil. Towards the end, the snowstorm becomes calm again and Crow manages to find his way back home; his literal home and his understanding of his identity, his position and music.

The story is split into three acts to illustrate the different stages of it.

Act One[edit]

The album opens with a sequel to the intro of Crow's first album, Crow - The Hard Times (2007). Now ten years later, Crow recounts his career and achievements and what he hopes to accomplish next (specifically in terms of what this album will achieve).

By the end of Act One, Crow has come to realise who he is now and where he has come from in the song "Satellite Sight". Beetle's guest verse is addressed to Crow and informing him to remember his hometown Satellite City and telling him "remember the hard times". This is a nod to the song "Through the Satellite Eyes", which "Satellite Sight" is the sequel to.

However as the song ends, the storm picks up and takes a turn for the worst.

Act Two[edit]

At the start of the second act, Crow has found himself taking a psychedelic "Trip to the Underworld". Guest vocals from Flurry Lyne and Omar Grest involve them playing the role of Crow's illusions, telling him lies and representing the evil that is corrupting him. Colossal rapper Snowstorm plays the good side and tells Crow to steer away and that it is all a dream.

After battling these inner demons, Crow travels up to the mountains known as the "Mountains of Maleficence" in the violent storm, where even more evil is present. Knowingly, Crow believes there is no other path to exit the storm, so he must go through these hardships in order to succeed.

Act Three[edit]

Track 11 begins act three, split into two songs, "Escape" and "Home". In the first half, the storm enters its final stage of serenity now that Crow escapes from the mental shackles set upon him. He now knows and remembers who he is, what he does, how the world functions and what he has learnt in general. In "Escape", he also recounts his adventures from the first two acts in a much more optimistic sense, opposite to how he was rapping before. "Home" marks his physical journey back to Satellite City where he recounts his journey to the locals and explains what he's learned.

Despite its title, the closing track "Lost in the World" signifies a new beginning for Crow Smith and upbeat about the future. The storm has vanished and everything is clear as day. Crow closes the three acts and 12-track album off with a speech about time and how every second should be cherished.

Mural and artwork[edit]

The mural and cover art ties in directly with the theme and concept of the album. It is a visual representation of the snowstorm that Crow is in in Act II. There are numerous references to songs from the album. For example, the mountains that surround Crow are the "Mountains of Maleficence" (track 7), the moon represents "Satellite Sight" (track 4) and the small visible town represents "Home". The mural in general also depicts Crow to be "Lost in the World" (track 12), the final track of the album which would connect the mural to the album as a whole.

In Search of Lost Time mural.PNG
The mural created by Yusei to compliment the album and its artwork.

Release and promotion[edit]

Digital Nyts[edit]

Crow marked his song drought with a surprise-release on to iceTunes in July 2016, titled "Late Summer". He did not say much behind what the song was far, however the suggestion was that it was the lead single off his soon-to-be-released and long-awaited fifth album. This didn't prove to be the case and it was instead Crow warming up and gradually coming back into the spotlight. Crow went on to do this regularly up to January 2017, titling these releases as Digital Nyts, paying homage to his old weekly Night Club event that propelled him to fame.

Initially they were released as treats to the fans after being away for so long, but they ended up becoming a monthly promotional lead-up to the album. Crow came to realisation that he had made so much music over the time that he did not want to keep most of it in a vault. Therefore he released most of the Digital Nyts tracks for free.

Many of the Digital Nyts were named after a scrapped album title.

Song Released Notes
"Late Summer" July 1, 2016 Produced by TrillBron and DJ Crow. Crow's first release since the final single of Today's Declaration, "Pressure", released in January 2014, a time period lasting 2 years and 6 months.
"Driving Slow"
(featuring Sink and The Weekdy)
August 2, 2016 Produced by DJ Crow.
"Black Rapsody"
(featuring Awesome Drama Orchestra)
September 6, 2016 Produced by Omar Grest and Thunder Bay. Later remixed into a new track on Colossal World (2016).
"Can't Wait"
(featuring Sink and Snowstorm)
October 10, 2016 Produced by ID Kard.
"An Acceptable Time" November 6, 2016 Produced by Yusei.
"Painting a Portrait"
(featuring Icecuber2d2)
December 5, 2016 Produced by Omar Grest.
"Always" January 3, 2017 Produced by DJ Crow and Mickey Mau.

Singles[edit]

The first single, "Brainstorm", was released three days after the release of the album. Unlike the usual convention of releasing singles before the album, Crow did not do this in order to preserve the concept of the album and because of Digital Nyts serving as promotion anyway. Produced by Jarvis Gibson and TrillBron, it is considered the "banger" of the album.

The second single, "Flying Circus", was released the following month on April 18, 2017. It features Flurry Lyne and Shade the Puffolian, produced by Thunder Bay and DJ Crow, with co-production from Jarvis Gibson and Omar Grest. It is a very complex song and very unconventional of a mainstream chart song. Despite this, it ended up succeeding the success of "Brainstorm".

"Trip to the Underworld" featuring Snowstorm, Flurry Lyne and Omar Grest was released as the third and final single on June 3, 2017.

All three singles are part of Act II of the album.

Track listing[edit]

Act OneLost
No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
1. "The Menacing II"  Crow SmithDJ Crow, Thunder Bay (add.) 2:25
2. "What's the Word?" (featuring Sink and Delaine)Crow Smith, Delaine Kendall, Sink, Yusei, Lebron FosterThunder Bay, DJ Crow 5:01
3. "Blank Verse"  Crow SmithDJ Crow 4:00
4. "Satellite Sight" (featuring Beetle)Crow Smith, Maxwell Jay Austin, Greg Wright, YuseiGreg Wright, DJ Crow (add.) 5:26

Act TwoTrip
No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
5. "Brainstorm"  Crow Smith, Jarvis Gibson, Lebron Foster, Ninjinian SmithJarvis Gibson, TrillBron (co.) 4:19
6. "Trip to the Underworld" (featuring Snowstorm, Flurry Lyne and Omar Grest)Crow Smith, Omar Grest, Snowstorm, Lebron Foster, Stephen BrunerOmar Grest, Thunder Bay 6:34
7. "Mountains of Maleficence" (featuring Nevim, Anna Ice & Thunder Bay)Crow Smith, Anna Adriana Ice, Michael Ice, Stephen BrunerDJ Crow, Thunder Bay 4:55
8. "Flying Circus" (featuring Flurry Lyne and Shade the Puffolian)Crow Smith, Shade the Puffolian, Lebron Foster, Omar Grest, Jennette Williams, Yusei, Eleanor Hunt, Michael IceThunder Bay, DJ Crow, Jarvis Gibson (co.), Omar Grest (co.) 4:47
9. "Dungeons and Dragons" (featuring Nebulent)Crow Smith, Mickey Mauville, Lebron Foster, Marlon Anderson, Ninjinian SmithMickey Mau, DJ Crow 5:33
Act ThreeHome
No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
10. "Escape / Home" (featuring Cadence)Crow Smith, Stephen Bruner, Yusei, Lebron Foster, Anna Adriana Ice, Bryan Fable, Ricky Depp, Eleanor Hunt, Fretty HodgsonSkyman, Yusei, Thunder Bay (co.) 7:00
11. "Time, Place" (featuring Bryan Fable)Crow Smith, Bryan FableID Kard, DJ Crow 3:53
12. "Lost in the World"  Crow SmithDJ Crow, Terrain da Don, Pilloww (add.) 3:42
Total length:
57:35
Notes
  • "The Menacing II" is a sequel to the intro song "The Menacing" by DJ Crow from his debut album, Crow - The Hard Times.
  • "Satellite Sight" is a sequel to track two from Crow's debut album Crow - The Hard Times, "Through the Satellite Eyes"
  • "Brainstorm" features uncredited vocals from Thunder Bay.
  • "Flying Circus" features uncredited vocals from Cadence.

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album was surprised released without an announcement, a brave move to make as an artist. But it worked out in his favour; In Search of Lost Time racked up 782,600 sales in UnitedTerra in its first week of release. It resulted into entering the Terrain chart at number 1, staying in the position for several weeks. It became Crow's sixth successive album to chart at number 1, including his collaborative album Renegade Riots (2012) with Joe-Q. It also sold out in Club Penguin, peaking at number 1 for months. In the USA it entered and peaked at number 6, becoming Crow's highest-charting album in the territory.

First week sales of Crow's albums in UnitedTerra
Album First-week sales (UTR)
Crow - The Hard Times 138,000
Dance on Sunday 441,000
Disc-Jockey's Nyt 276,340
Renegade Riots 860,914
Today's Declaration 1,032,920
In Search of Lost Time 782,600

The album was one of the best-selling albums of 2017 across Antarctica, being certified Platinum within weeks of charting.

Critical response[edit]

Reception for the album was subject to unanimous critical acclaim, with many publications labelling it as "art" and the best piece of music of the 21st century. It was ranked as the best album of 2017 by numerous critics. It surpassed Today's Declaration (2013) as Crow's best-reviewed album, although it is not the fans' favourite, and is not considered as enjoyable as Today's Declaration due to the level of attention the listener has to pay to the detail in the album. Noted by music writers for its dark theme and varied elements, they appreciated the dense, conceptual story of the album, and the fact that Crow bravely yet successfully experimented with musical genres like jazz and funk. Critics agreed that Crow "pushed musical boundaries" like no other artist has, let alone any rapper that has.

Charts[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
UnitedTerra Albums Chart 1
CP Albums Chart 1
Antartican Hot 100 Albums 6
Freezeland Albums of 100 TBD
Tel Ah Phon Albums Chart TBD
Pengolian Albums Chart TBD
Puffle'and Bouncin' 100 Albums TBD
Dorkugal Albums Chart TBD
Swiss Ninja's Top Hits Chart TBD
Los Hits Calientes Castellanos TBD
Les Hits d'Aujourd'hui de Frankterre TBD
Greatest Shops Hits TBD

Sales and certifications[edit]

Country Certification
UnitedTerra
TBD
Club Penguin
TBD
USA
TBD
Freezeland
TBD
Tel Ah Phon
TBD
Pengolia
TBD
Puffle'and
TBD
Dorkugal
TBD

Non-single chart positions[edit]

Year Song Chart peak positions
UTR CP USA
2017 "What's the Word?" 24 4 66
"Mountains of Maleficence" 30 18 53
"Dungeons and Dragons" 4 2 26
"Escape / Home" 11 8 39
"Lost in the World" 7 5 40

See also[edit]