When I interviewed rapper Tate Kobang for City Paper last year, the young rapper had just released his third mixtape, the fantastic and provocative Hitler Hardaway, and had also just parted ways with his previous label and production team, Dem808z. Since them, Dem808z has pulled virtually all of Tate's old music from the various mixtapes and video sites and blogs they'd been posted on. So with his latest release, his debut proper album Crown Of Thorns, Tate Kobang is effectively starting from scratch, if only because his back catalog has been scrubbed from the public record. Crown Of Thorns was released on the birthday of Tate Kobang's mother, who also appears on the cover of the album. And while some tracks do find the rapper in a slightly more pensive mood, he's still the talented, obnoxious kid who made Hitler Hardaway. The highlights of the LP are the two spacey Street Scott productions "Here I Go" and "Suburbs," but the range of sounds and sentiments found on the album are its real strength. And on the bonus track "Real Ain't Cool," Tate Kobang lays out what might be his guiding philosophy: he's brutally honest and unfiltered, but he won't pose as a gangsta or anything else for street cred.