Trever Crow is weary of classifications. He should be. Put in a room of poets, Crow stands out like a sore thumb. Standing at 6-foot-4 and sporting tattoos of what appear at first to be totally random shit—like the Pizza Hut delivery boy tattoo on his forearm—Crow’s appearance can be a bit off-putting for the traditional poetry enthusiast. He’s also a rapper.
Luckily, Crow happens to be one of the nicest guys in the world.
The 27-year-old Fernley native and disabled veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, cites fear as his main inspiration. Not stage fright, real fear. Before he had ever performed, he thought he had cancer.
“It was a thing I wanted to do before I die, go to an open mic,” he says. “And then my doctor called me and said, ‘It’s moving, it’s spreading, it’s growing.’ It freaked me out,” Crow says of the disease. “I had never been so scared in my life.”
Doctors never figured out what “it” was.
Crow, now an official member of the Spoken Views poetry collective, was first introduced to the group through local rapper and poet Richie Panelli, a 10-year veteran of hip-hop who calls himself Apprentice. (It’s interesting that Crow was introduced to the Reno poetry and hip-hop scenes by a man who calls himself Apprentice.)
“Between all the tips and encouragement I’ve got from these other rappers in town, I can rap now,” says Crow. “I’m not the best, but I’ve learned. … I recorded my first rap a couple weeks ago off of one of Richie’s beats.”
While humble and enthusiastic, Crow is a novice rapper. He describes himself as recently becoming a fan of hip-hop and says he is just now discovering artists like Sage Francis, a well-known rapper and slam poet.
Acknowledging the potential assumptions one could make about him, Crow simply defines himself—he’s a writer.
“I’ve been a writer my whole life. But as a performer, I’ve only been doing it about a year.” He also writes screenplays and comic books.
What seems most interesting about Crow is his ability to ignore what people think, to be completely pleasant in conversation and to put his message out there.
“You gotta take action,” Crow says. “You can’t just have an idea and not share it with the world.”
Crow released his first album earlier this month; a full-length collection of poems over hip-hop beats called Poems to Trip To.
“It’s poetry. I guess a lot of people call it spoken word,” Crow says of the album. “But my style’s not traditional spoken word. It has a rap feel, but I don’t rap on it. It was a real struggle for me to learn how to rap.”
He has convinced some great local rappers to come onboard with his project though. Panelli, a highly regarded beat-maker in town; Iain Watson, Spoken Views co-founder and local rapper/beat-maker who goes by Emic on the mic; Darren Toomer, one of the best freestyle emcees and live performers around; and other local hip-hop artists have all contributed beats or verses for Crow’s new album.
The album itself is out there, something to trip to. It gives a lot of food for thought.