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From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_(band)

Later when Nirvana recorded Bleach, Cobain felt he had to fit the expectations of the Sub Pop grunge sound to build a fanbase, and hence suppressed his arty and pop songwriting traits while crafting the record in favor of a more rocking sound.

Can someone explain the bold part?

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In this context, 'crafting' means 'fashioning' or 'creating'. In addition, I think your bold text indicates how you are interpreting the phrases in the sentence, and I personally read the sentence differently, which I have restructured to remove ambiguity:

Later when Nirvana recorded Bleach, Cobain felt he had to fit the expectations of the Sub Pop grunge sound to build a fanbase, and hence while crafting the record, suppressed his arty and pop songwriting traits in favor of a more rocking sound.

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