Affion Crockett: The Hip Hop Renaissance ManJune 20, 2007 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment
By Chasity Johnson
“Who? Affion Crockett? Oh yeah, I know him. That’s that guy that be on Wildin’ Out doing dem impressions. Dude is hilarious!”
You may know Affion Crockett as the bugged out cast member on MTV’s Wild N’ Out who’s known for his crazy impersonations that range from the “West-Indian woman” to 50 Cent, but he is much more than what appears to the ordinary eye. Crockett’s titles not only include actor and comedian, but director, dancer, rapper and music producer as well.
I recently had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with this Hip Hop Renaissance Man. Even though I was expecting his call, when my phone rang and I answered it, I wasn’t sure if it was him. For some reason, I expected Crockett to jump on the phone and start talking 100 mph, but to my surprise the voice that met my ear was that of a calm, cool, collected and laid back kinda guy. After I confirmed it was him, we jumped right into the interview.
I asked Crockett about his temperament. “I’m more serious than anything,” said Crockett. “People don’t expect it. They think I joke all of the time, but I don’t. I have different moods. I’m very straight forward, sometimes to the point that I shock people.”
Born in North Carolina to a Trinidadian mother (the inspiration for his depiction of a West-Indian woman on Wildin’ Out), Crockett embarked on his career in the entertainment industry at the tender age of 10. He entered numerous local talent shows with his brother, exhibiting extraordinary skills while engaging Hip Hop’s most aerobic element, break dancing. I asked Crockett, where he learned to break. He explained that he didn’t necessarily learn it from anywhere in particular. “As kids, we are very impressionable. We see things and we mimic them. We saw Beat Street and Breakin’ and we mimicked what we saw,” said Crockett.
Growing up as an “army brat,” Crockett and his family were constantly on the go, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. By the time he graduated from high school, Crockett is said to have attended 14 different schools. His exposure to different environments and diverse groups of people, acted as the catalyst for him to develop his skills as a professional “mimicker.” “The effect of walking into a new room of people, who were looking at you funny or making jokes about you on your first day, kind of puts you into a shell,” he explained. “So, I sat in the back of the room and just observed everybody. I wasn’t always a comedian. I was an observer.”
As Crockett’s career progressed, his childhood observations manifested themselves into side-splitting impressions, which became one of his signature acts. In 1995 Crockett’s impersonations landed him a spot on HBO’s DEF Comedy Jam. His physical comedy, along with his incredibly accurate impressions, led critics to hail him as the “next Jim Carey.” According to Crockett, he never felt like he was a comedian, so much as a comedic actor. “I impersonated other comedians’ acts and I impersonated a lot of other people. My act was so funny because it was real.”
While performing at a comedy club in L.A., Crokett caught the eye of actor/producer Nick Cannon. Cannon who was impressed with Crockett’s performance immediately casted him in MTV’s hit show ‘Wild’N Out”. For the past three seasons, Crockett has been a stand out character and an audience favorite.
Crockett has converted his success from Wild N’ Out into the MTV’s hit comedy sketch show, Short Circuitz, which he describes as “In Livin’ Color with a Hip Hop feel.” On this break out show, he portrays a range of entertainment icons including Russell Simmons, Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Jay –Z and Ludacris.
Crockett who is currently working on a film with King of Comedy, Cedric the Entertainer, which he remains tight-lipped about (It’s all good), is also preparing for the release of his solo album, Oskamill: No Apologies. As a true Hip Hop head, he has the intention of bringing a much needed balance to the Hip Hop game. “For me, it’s about being a human being. No person is the same thing all of the time. I don’t understand how you can always be gangster. I don’t understand how you can always sell drugs. I mean is that the one thing that you always talk about? Do you always gun clap and do all that? What I try to do is balance it out. I mean you’ll hear me talk about a deal going down, or how I’m the baddest rapper on earth and ‘I’ll open up your skull and look in it and put it back in and take your neck and spin it’ or some other stuff like that. They’re brag raps, so I’ll throw that in there, but you’ll also hear me talk about other stuff too.”
Although the subject matter of Crockett’s album is extremely diverse and audibly appealing, the track that catches my ear most is the song dedicated to his father. Crockett’s father, though not biological, whom according to Crockett “raised me like, he spit me out,” filled the void of a lacking male role model early on in his life. The song, which Crockett wrote right before his father’s (he refuses to acknowledge him as his stepfather, insisting that biology is not the determining factor of true fatherhood) second tour of duty to Iraq, acted as an epistle to showcase his appreciation for his father’s presence and dedication to him.
In addition to preparing for the release of his debut album, he is currently producing and directing a film with his business partner John O, which will be released under his company Uncomf’table Films.
I had to ask him what motivated him to take on so many creative roles of leadership in so many different arenas of art and entertainment (listening to him talk about everything he does made me tired). He told me that he didn’t set out to play so many roles it just happened that way. He said he became tired of people not following through on their words, so developed a “do-it-yourself” motto. Fortunately for him he was good at everything he decided to “do himself.” “I think God was like ‘Yo, I don’t want this kid to be bored so I’m gonna bless him with a lot of talents.’”
Well you heard it hear. Company owner, actor, comedian, dancer, rapper, producer, director, filmmaker… this cat does it all and then some. His ambitions and talents are sure to take him far. Although we’ve already seen a lot from him already, for some reason I feel like we’re just witnessing the tip of the iceberg.