For its fifth release, Blackalicious has created a record of such sonic depth and breadth and lyrical ambition that it can proudly stand alongside the work of Bay Area funk fathers Sly Stone and Shuggie Otis, or hip-hop classics like Outkast's Aquemini, The Roots' Things Fall Apart and Gang Starr's Daily Operation. But The Craft is not nostalgia for some "golden era" that never existed, it represents state-of-the-art hip-hop with an expansive worldview. That's saying a lot. Begun humbly in high school in 1987, Blackalicious now claims four critically acclaimed albums and EPs to its credit-1995's Melodica, 1999's A2G, 1999's Nia, and 2002's Blazing Arrow. Emerging from the influential Bay Area indie scene of the mid-90s, they burst onto the world stage and provided a roadmap for hundreds of underground artists to follow. They went on to tour the globe, headlining hundreds of shows and joining the likes of Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, the Roots, Public Enemy, and their Quannum homies.

Though both taking time to release solo projects, both Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab kept focused on the next Blackalicious project, calling it The Craft to reflect their maturing approach to the music. "Nia was about purpose. Blazing Arrow was about faith-to walk the path once you have found your purpose," says Gab. "The Craft is about understanding that we have received a blessing but also that we need to be about discipline. We do it for fun, but we take it very seriously, almost religiously." "The Craft," Xcel says, "is our passion to bring discipline to this music, the passion to keep growing, keep stretching, keep doing things we haven't before. The craft is what we live for."