What can I say? I’m a sucker for lyrical content. As a longtime fan of Atmosphere and the rest of the Rhymesayers crew, it’s no coincidence that I came across Grieves. As a wordsmith, it’s no coincidence that I appreciate what he’s doing with his choice of colloquy throughout his work.
Together/Apart is a fitting new album title for Grieves. Budo is a fitting musical partner for him, taking him to the uncharted territory that has eluded him for the early part of his career. Blending a beautiful symphony of ecclectic electronica and insightful hip hop with horns, pianos and all sorts of interesting instruments, the album has elements both contradictory and engaging. Longtime Rhymesayers’ followers will instantly recognize the flow and style of rap that Grieves brings to the table. Bloody Poetry hooks us up with memorable lines and the danceability that eludes much of hip hop today. How often does a hip hop song make you dance and make you think simultaneously? Grieves makes sure we do both.
Lightspeed showcased Grieves’ vocal range on his verses as well as his hooks. He’s got depth, which Rhymesayers has always been known for. The substance and style has ironically made the label somewhat of an outcast in the world of hip hop, but this style will be the one that overcomes the bullshit that currently saturates the mainstream scene. On Smile For the Blade, Grieves hits it on the head: “I’m a fan of truth and you motherfuckers lie to get by in this game full of fools.” Together/Apart expands on these ideas and successfully situates Grieves on the list of emcees who spit not just with a vengeance but with a purpose, too.
Grieves reminds me of a combination of the best of Mike Shinoda and Atmosphere. His rhymes are articulate and melodic. From On the Rocks, Grieves sings/raps a 21st Century of the Blues: “I ain’t no Skylar. I don’t write no books. I don’t spend my money. My last girl honey, she hates my guts.” I can’t tell if that’s a Breaking Bad reference or not, but I really hope it is, because that would make me like Grieves even more than I already do. Falling From You takes on a different, almost emotional tone, as Grieves switches positions and digs deep into the depths of his soul: “How will I figure it out? I just want to clear your clouds away.”
Grieves is bearing his soul, daring us to dance and think, provoking thought while he’s telling his story, and his story is one worth listening to. Tune in for a portion of it at SubT next week.