Music Awards: Crown City Rockers

If Ahmad's rhymes give the Rockers' grooves focus, he's quick to credit the band's live energy as boosting his rapping skills. "It's made me a better MC," he says. "It's made me think about fitting in with the band, not just being a guy rapping, but actually being someone in the band."

Where this all-encompassing creativity will lead — aside from one genuinely solid hip-hop album —is anyone's guess. For all its local success, the band hasn't really broken through on a national mainstream level. Its last album, 2004's Earthtones, was an eternity ago in hip-hop years, and certainly enough time to fuel Internet chatter about the band's demise. But The Day After Forever is on Gold Dust Media, a hip-hop label that should give the band more promotional muscle than it's had in the past. And the Rockers' schedule is anything but light — after the Treasure Island Music Festival, they're heading to Japan and Indonesia. So maybe this will be the push that finally reminds the music world that there's more to live hip-hop than just Jimmy Fallon's late-night backing band.

Regardless, Ahmad and his crew are sanguine. "There's a lot of really amazing talent out here, man," he says about the band's adopted home. "I'm excited, because it's a good time to be in the Bay Area right now."

Music Awards Feature

Music Awards intro by Jennifer Maerz

Music Awards: Lazer Sword by Shawn Reynaldo

Music Awards sidebar: Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Ezra Gale, Jennifer Maerz and Shawn Reynaldo

Music Awards: Jukebox Roundtable by Dan Strachota

Music Awards Program Guide

Music Awards intro by Jennifer Maerz

Music Awards program guide

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