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|Studio album by DJ Crow|
|Released||November 29, 2013|
|Recorded||December 2012—September 2013|
|Genre||Terrain grime, alternative hip hop|
69:39 (Disc 1)
31:03 (Disc 2)
|Producer||DJ Crow (exec.), TrillBron, Dr. Ray, Shade the Puffolian, ID Kard, Terrain da Don, Yusei, Pilloww|
|DJ Crow chronology|
|Singles from Today's Declaration|
Today's Declaration is the fourth studio album by Terrain grime and hip hop artist DJ Crow. The album was released on November 29, 2013 independently on Colossal Records. Recording sessions for the album began in December 2012 and finished in September 2013. The album was originally slated for a November 2012 release but Crow decided to be fully committed to Renegade Riots (2012) (with Joe-Q). The album was also postponed due to Crow working on Cadence's album Tempo (2012), tours and collaborating with other artists. After Crow finished other work, writing and recording resumed as Crow worked in isolation. Crow didn't release any solo material from September 2012 up to October 2013, which built up anticipation and a lot of attention for the record. The album is a transition from previous albums, as Today's Declaration attempts to experiment styles with no dance or electro-grime songs. Originally the album was planned to be based upon unreleased songs, but Crow decided to start from scratch.
The album is split up into two discs - Disc 1 with 17 tracks and Disc 2 with eight, totalling to 25 tracks. Thus, there is no deluxe edition. The second disc is not part of the narrative concept. Production derived from Crow himself, TrillBron, Dr. Ray, Shade the Puffolian, ID Kard, Terrain da Don, Yusei and Pilloww. The album's largely concerns a fictional version of Crow that is narrating throughout the entire record. Appearances on the album include ID Kard, Shade the Puffolian, Snowstorm, Flurry Lyne, Young Wade, Sink and Bryan Fable. Originally more appearances were planned but never made the final cut. The album is the first of Crow's to include newly-signed producers and artists on Colossal Records. Unlike Crow's other albums, Today's Declaration follows a story throughout the first seventeen songs which focuses on Crow delivering a speech to the public - more specifically a "declaration".
Following a heavily-delayed release, Today's Declaration was released to digital retailers at midnight on November 29, 2013, receiving first week sales of 1,032,920 copies in UnitedTerra, becoming DJ Crow's fourth solo studio album and seventh altogether (including solo albums, EPs and collaboration albums) to peak at number 1. The album was sold for a moderately cheap price. The album received overwhelmingly positive reviews from music critics, whom praised Crow's successful attempt at a concept album. The production for the album was highly praised. 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 - also saying that wants to produce for other new artists and continue building his label.
- 1 Background
- 2 Composition
- 3 Track listing
- 4 Release and promotion
- 5 Singles
- 6 Reception
- 7 Charts
- 8 See also
In August 2011, Crow's long-term recording contract with Music Industry had expired. This happened a few weeks before the release of his third album Disc-Jockey's Nyt. The label had not realised early enough that the contract was expiring so close to the album's release, so they immediately began to take creative control over the situation to make sure that the album release was executed as perfectly as possible. Crow was refusing to resign the contract until the album was released. The first three singles had failed to enter the top 3 of the Terrain charts, nor had they charted in the top 15 of the USA charts, leading to concerns by the label. Once promotional events and other album-related issues were being done without Crow's permission he decided to not renew his contract. This led to Crow releasing the album independently. Crow redone the majority of the album in the two weeks that he had before the promised released date - reproducing, rewriting and recording over a dozen new songs. Due to Crow's massive prominence in the music industry, the public were aware of the album and so the release took place smoothly under Crow's own label Colossal Records. Reviews were harsh upon the album, mostly due to the singles that had already been released that seemed to dumb down the album. However, it was labelled the most underrated album of the year. This led to Crow wanting to perfect the art in his follow-up.
The Underworld's Sequel EP was planned to be released in October 2013, a month before the release of Today's Declaration for promotion, but the release was evidently scrapped. Fans were not angered by this move as Crow had promised an extended album by this time.
Buzz for the album began in September 2012, more than a year before the release. The buzz quietened down as Crow strictly said that he would not be revealing details for the album which was long away from release. Crow began working on the album in December 2012, four months after the release of Renegade Riots. The album was due to be released in November 2012 - three months after Renegade Riots (2012) - and originally contained 11 tracks. Crow then decided to extend the album even more after he decided that he would be taking a break from releasing solo material - in a similar way to the break between Crow - The Hard Times (2007) and Dance on Sunday (2010). Recording was supposed to have begun straight after the release of the Uprising album in August 2012 however Crow had to add final touches to Cadence's album, Tempo, that he was executive producer of. Soon after it's October 2012 release, Crow suffered writer's and producer's block between October and December. At this stage, Crow only had a couple songs that he was considering for the album but hadn't officially decided. The effect of his excessive work on the Uprising and Cadence album was the reason of this.
This did not last too long once 2013 came around during his brother Ninjinian's public conference in New Club Penguin, which he attended. The things that Crow witnessed eradicated his block and ideas flowed, leading to the inception of a concept album. Crow did not produce any material for the first few weeks of January 2013. Instead, he was writing his own script that would lead to the creation of the song concepts. Once Crow finished the script, songwriting commenced again.
Crow was also seeking new producers, mainly to sign to his Colossal Records label, who's only signee was TrillBron up to February 2013 when Crow browsed the Internet for producers that were uploading their beats. Crow drew his attention to ID Kard and Terrain da Don, whom he immediately contacted and signed indefinitely to Colossal. Crow had already decided that he was to manage the majority of production but still required fresh assistance. The only other producers Crow requested to work with personally were TrillBron, Shade the Puffolian, Yusei, Pilloww and Dr. Ray - who had never worked with Crow before. Beats were always produced with Crow present in the studio.
The planned 11 tracks increased up to 17 very quickly. There were no plans for deluxe edition bonus tracks but the Underworld's Sequel EP release was still intact around May 2013 but Crow had no guest performers for the album so far; nor did it have a name. He took this month to seek new artists to sign, using PengTube and various other music-publishing sources to discover what he desired. No more information emerged on the album until June 2013 when Crow revealed that newly-signed rappers Sink and Snowstorm would "play a part" in the album, including female rapper Flurry Lyne and male singer-rapper Bryan Fable. Crow carefully selected what songs he wanted their vocals on to suit the concept. Now the album name had been decided once Crow went over the script. During August, Crow set out to choose a lead single - one that would not give away too much about the concept. Crow promised that the album would be released before the end of the year, revealing everything stage by stage during promotion between June and November.
By early October, Crow believed that the album was done; until he went back and took a listen to the EP material that he had. Upon listening, he didn't like most of it except one song, which he was really considering adding to the album but realised that it wouldn't fit the 17-song concept. So instead of releasing the EP, Crow composed a second part of the album that would not be part of the concept, adding in the song and composing seven new songs especially for it - giving it the title Tomorrow's Declaration (Pt. 2) - that would all be on a separate CD, therefore making Today's Declaration a double-disc album, totalling to 25 tracks. Because of this, Crow cancelled the release of the EP and told fans that the second disc would serve as a substitution.
Past collaborators Shade the Puffolian, Young Wade, Nyninyne and Nebulent featured on the album. The collaborations happened with no difficulties as Crow had direct contact with them. Nor had there to be label issues now that Crow was independent. Originally Crow only asked Shade and Nebulent to feature on the album. Young Wade contacted Crow later on after hearing about Today's Declaration. Newly Colossal-signed artists Flurry Lyne, Snowstorm, Sink and Bryan Fable made guest appearances as well. The Nyninyne and Nebulent collaboration were recorded in January 2012, over a year before the release of Today's Declaration, and were originally on Crow's heavily-delayed EP, Underworld's Sequel. Crow was considering asking Meaghan, Cadence and Lucy Verghanta to feature, but realised their contributions would not fit the concept. Many background vocals by already-featured artists are present but are not credited for them.
The album sees Crow as an activist-preacher who is speaking to an audience that have come to see him speak mainly about social issues. This character was dubbed by Crow as an alter-ego named Wesson Orthos. A significant portion of the album has Crow speaking as Wesson, typically during the beginning and end of songs. Wesson is supposedly a bit mentally-mad which becomes clear during the progression of the 17 songs. In the concept, Wesson's appearance, personality, likes, dislikes and other miscellaneous qualities are referenced - mainly his views. During the lectures, Wesson invites other 'speakers' (that are actually the guest performers on the album) to briefly speak, aiding Wesson in his lecture, whilst giving their own take on the subject. Crow had written this into the script so artists that had featured verses, such as Young Wade, had to write a verse that corresponded with the script. Intermissions take place during the lecture, where short instrumentals and audible noise of chattering audiences are filled. During this period, Wesson goes off stage and prepares for his next speaking topic. The entire lecture begins with the unique declaration written by Crow, and ends with another declaration directed to the future generation.
Music and style
In addition to the normal hip hop songs on Today's Declaration, Crow expanded his lanes by incorporating alternative music elements into a few parts of the album. Upon discussing the fact that there would be no dance songs on the album, Crow said: "I'm a DJ, I do enough dance music in the Night Club. I'm past that now. It's time for real hip hop and grime to step up and be the better genres." This was seen as Crow's most experimental project that explored a range of different styles, structures and instruments. Crow made sure that everything made sense and that his alternative styles fitted the concept. He also tried to make the listener feel as if they were present in the lecture room that is in the album itself. Typical musical compositions used include the use of horns, strings, samples, electric guitar, acoustic guitar and others. Crow varied up the song structures by including different verse lengths, unorthodox vocals that have been digitally-altered to set a certain mood and most notably the use of sounds such as penguins getting out their seats, walking, the tapping of a microphone and echos.
The topics on Today's Declaration mostly concern social concerns - something that Crow has only briefly touched in his previous works. This includes; family, public disturbance and nuisances, society stereotypes, government, conspiracies and the media, including other topics. The declaration itself is only covered in the opening and closing tracks of Disc 1 and not mentioned at all in between. Instead, each song aims to take one element of the declaration and expand upon it. The lyrical content was seen as Crow's most controversial of his career, especially the single "Peace Be Upon You", up to the extent of it being banned from certain radio stations. Overall, the content of the album had a major effect on the public and impacted the industry hard.
|Today's Declaration — Disc 1|
|1.||"Yesterday's Declaration"||Crow Smith||TrillBron||3:14|
|2.||"Protect My Pride"||Crow Smith||TrillBron||3:57|
|3.||"I'm Fine" (featuring Young Wade)||Crow Smith, Dwade Cooper, Lebron Foster||Dr. Ray||4:40|
|4.||"Responsibility"||Crow Smith||Shade the Puffolian||4:01|
|5.||"Don't Judge"||Crow Smith||DJ Crow||3:32|
|6.||"We Can't Change" (featuring Shade the Puffolian)||Crow Smith, Shade Puffolian, Yusei, Lebron Foster, Joel Bradley||DJ Crow, Yusei||4:56|
|7.||"Risking It"||Crow Smith, Lebron Foster, Yusei, Ramiah Pinley||ID Kard, DJ Crow||3:49|
|8.||"The Rise" (featuring ID Kard)||Crow Smith, Jamal Reymond, Lebron Foster||ID Kard||4:09|
|9.||"Today's Declaration"||Crow Smith||DJ Crow, Pilloww||4:40|
|10.||"Peace Be Upon You"||Crow Smith||Terrain da Don||7:10|
|11.||"Only You Know" (featuring Flurry Lyne & Sink)||Crow Smith, Eleanor Hunt, Wale Kimble, Lebron Foster||DJ Crow||4:51|
|12.||"Have a Listen to the Slogan"||Crow Smith||DJ Crow, ID Kard||2:32|
|13.||"Captions"||Crow Smith, Yusei||Pilloww, DJ Crow||3:54|
|15.||"Five Second Rule" (featuring Sink)||Crow Smith, Wale Kimble, Lebron Foster, Yusei||DJ Crow, TrillBron||5:15|
|16.||"Nightmares" (featuring Snowstorm)||Crow Smith, Shaun Amiah, Lebron Foster, Yusei||Terrain da Don||3:58|
|17.||"Tomorrow's Declaration"||Crow Smith||Dr. Ray, ID Kard (co.)||3:06|
|Tomorrow's Declaration — Disc 2|
|1.||"The Crew"||Crow Smith||Terrain da Don||3:17|
|2.||"I Can Do Better" (featuring Bryan Fable)||Crow Smith||ID Kard, Yusei||3:29|
|3.||"Pressure" (featuring Nyninyne & Nebulent)||Crow Smith, Harrison Harolds, Marlon Anderson||DJ Crow, ID Kard||5:57|
|4.||"Shouting at the King"||Crow Smith, Lebron Foster, Yusei, Joel Bradley||TrillBron||4:26|
|5.||"Peace and Quiet"||Crow Smith, Lebron Foster, Yusei, Joel Bradley||TrillBron, DJ Crow||3:13|
|6.||"Right to the Bottom"||Crow Smith||TrillBron||4:44|
|7.||"Preceding"||Crow Smith||Terrain da Don||2:22|
|8.||"Self Destruct"||Crow Smith||ID Kard||3:35|
- "Don't Judge" features uncredited vocals from Flurry Lyne.
Release and promotion
The first song Crow released was "Have a Listen to the Slogan" on his 22nd birthday, August 5. The song was unveiled via PengTube, which Crow writing in the description: "Dropping this track as a gift. Enjoy." Crow later cheeted: "That's one of the first songs I done for the album. It felt right to premiere that song first." Originally Crow was not going to release the song until the album was released but after the song racked over 2 million views in the day, and became popular on Chitter, Crow released it as a promotional single the next day. Crow then revealed that the first official single off the album was to be released near the end of August, so he wouldn't be unveiling any more songs. "Have a Listen to the Slogan" peaked at number 1 in the iceTunes chart and peaked at number 14 in the UTR chart and number 8 in Club Penguin. Originally the song "Shouting at the King" was to premiere on radio before the release of the first single but Crow decided to save it for the complete album as he thought the song deserved "a special unveiling".
Most of the album promotion was from the three singles released before the album, the promotional single "Have a Listen to the Slogan" and from the power of the internet. As Crow had a massive fan-base, penguins were able to find about the album and songs easily. Chitter and Beakbook supported the widespread news about Today's Declaration. Crow performed exclusive lyrics for Icecuber2d2's independent PengTube network IC.TV which specialized in underground rap while playing the acoustic guitar - gaining over 500,000 views within 2 days.
On October 1 the album cover was revealed while the tracklist was released on November 1.
The artwork, designed together by Crow and Yusei, features an old, tattered, brown paper with a formal design. It says the album title in the middle in a calligraphic font. Behind the title is a faded feather-pen along with faded lyrics of the opening track. "DJ Crow" is written in gold at the bottom of the paper. The concept of the artwork fits in with the whole theme of the album. The artwork represents Crow signing the declaration.
"Captions" was released via Crow's blog on August 25, 2013 as the official lead single from Today's Declaration. The song is produced by Pilloww and DJ Crow, and was released to radio and iceTunes on the same day. The song debuted at number thirteen on the UnitedTerra Singles Chart, but later worked it's way up to number 3 without the support of a music video."I'm Fine" features Antarctican rapper Young Wade (produced by Dr. Ray), and was premiered on radio. The week later it was released for download on October 6. The song entered the UTR chart at number 6, and the next week moved up to number 1, again without the support of a music video. The two music videos' premiered the next month. The third single, "Only You Know", features female Terrain rapper Flurry Lyne and Terrain rapper Sink - both of whom are newly-signed artists to Colossal Records. The song was released on October 27, 2013 - three weeks after the release of "I'm Fine". Three days later, the music video was premiered. Surprisingly the song entered the UTR Singles Chart at number 78, then the next week it raced up to the summit; holding the top spot for two consecutive weeks - then slipping down a place to number 2.
The fourth single, "Peace Be Upon You", was released a week before the album release on November 23. As planned, Crow released four singles before the release of Today's Declaration. The song is produced by Terrain da Don. The album version is 7 minutes and 10 seconds long, so the song was shortened to 6:06 for a single release. The song gained the least amount of radio airplay as Crow refused to give a 4 minute radio edit. Despite this, the single entered the UTR chart at number 1 and stayed there for three weeks. The video premiered a month later on Christmas Eve. The next single, "I Can Do Better", was released approx. 4 weeks later on January 1, 2014. The song features singer Bryan Fable. The song collected the first number 1 of the year. It remained at number 1 for three weeks until the sixth single off the album, "Pressure" featuring rappers Nyninyne and Nebulent, knocked it off the top spot for five weeks, with the video premiering on February 16. Nyninyne and DJ Crow produced the song. The song received most radio airplay at night-time as the song was 6 minutes long. Crow refused to submit a radio version for "Pressure" too.
Other notable songs
The standard first-disc tracks were not made available for individual purchase (apart from singles) as Crow believed that those 17 songs should be bought and listened only as a collective. However, the six second-disc tracks could be purchased separately (not including the two singles from Disc 2) and all entered the Club Penguin and UnitedTerra charts - in the top 100 and top 60 respectively. The highest-charting non-single song was "Self Destruct" that even managed to chart in Antarctica at number 91. This is not the first time that a large amount of non-single songs have charted; the same happened with songs from Disc-Jockey's Nyt (2011). Now that all sales money went directly to Crow due to no major label involvement, fans have now traditionally seen it as a homage to purchase tracks individually as well as buying the album itself.
Today's Declaration entered the UnitedTerra Albums Chart at number 1, selling 1,032,920 copies in it's first week - becoming Crow's fourth number 1 album as a solo artist and sixth overall. Crow set a number of chart records upon release. It is Crow's highest-selling first week of his entire career and only the sixth album in history to sell over a million copies in its first week of release. In the USA, the album entered the chart at number 9, selling 82,000 copies. This serves as Crow's highest-charting album in the USA and the highest-charting, best first-week sales independent album in history.
|Album||First-week sales (UTR)|
|Crow - The Hard Times||138,000|
|Dance on Sunday||441,000|
The album was the third best-selling album of 2013 in UnitedTerra, despite only being released a month before the end of the year. In its second week in the territory it sold another 501,342 copies - still a considerable high figure compared to the first week figures. The album remained at the number 9 position in the USA for a further two weeks, remaining in the top 40 for several months.
Upon its release, Today's Declaration was met with critical acclaim from music critics all across the Antarctic. The album averaged a score of 94/100 based on 45 reviews, which indicates universal acclaim. SnowMusic gave the album five out of five stars, a very rare rating from the magazine, stating: "DJ Crow's fourth album is his best yet. With such cohesiveness, controversial subjects and amazing, unique production, this album gets better every time you listen to it. Crow made sure every aspect of this record was perfect, which is probably why we had to wait so long for it. It's a good thing that Crow doesn't have to rely heavily on the featured artists as Crow could have easily had no guest performers if he didn't want to. At least he didn't include Cadence on the record - that's a difference. Crow brings completely new and out-the-box artists and producers that add to the value of the cohesiveness. Labelled as the most anticipated album of the year, it surely lived up to the hype. Definitely a classic."
However, there were mild criticisms from some critics that thought that the album concept was too confusing to follow. "As good as the lyrics and beats are, I got completely lost in what was going on. Maybe Crow tried to over-complicate the story. I mean, it was his first try at a concept record. It took me more than a few listens to, eventually, fully understand this strange speaker."
Sales and certifications
Non-single chart positions
|Year||Song||Chart peak positions|
|"Peace and Quiet"||22||36||—|
|"Right to the Bottom"||61||40||—|
|"Shouting at the King"||80||44||—|