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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 25, 2014 | Rhymesayers
On Winter & the Wolves, Seattle-based indie rapper Grieves displays significant, even startling, growth from his previous releases, and in the process shakes off any possible accusations that he's an Atmosphere clone. If anything, this vibrant, alive, and diversified release could draw Macklemore or Mac Miller comparisons when it comes to the music and the slick production, but regular visitors to the Rhymesayers label still get their fill of emo and introverted, although this time, it comes with a delicious grain of salt. Key cut "Whoa Is Me" paints Grieves as a sensitive guy who's up for some call-and-response comedy when it comes to his soft heart ("My dog died [When you were six!]" and "My truck broke [You ride the bus!]"). There's the opening number, "Rain Damage," a forceful, "guess who's back"-type track where the man triumphantly and convincingly spits that he's the "gapped-tooth rapper" with "a bag full of I-don't-give-a-f*cks for that ass," and don't forget "Rhymesayers, put that logo on the back," and suddenly these emo outsiders seem entirely "in." Blame his new cohort, producer B. Lewis, for most of the attractive musical flash on multiple tracks; then there's expert knob-twiddler Sapient giving "Recluse" an accordion-based beat that's somehow both sinister and street. Grieves also does fine on his own, claiming a solo production credit on "Long One," where soul and restraint build a solid foundation for lyrics like "got dumped, she don't need an unemployed punk running round life like the pile of blues records in his trunk." If Grieves is getting closer to the world of Macklemore, it's a Macklemore world where the ceiling really can hold us, and often does. Still, Grieves has stretched the possibilities of Rhymesayers-type rap with Winter & the Wolves, so kick the mopes to the curb with this one, since it understands and overcomes with extra helpings of clever and cool. ~ David Jeffries
Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 31, 2013 | Rhymesayers
On his Rhymesayers debut, rapper Grieves sounds a bit too much like his labelmates Atmosphere to cause concern among those who label this rap “emo” instead of the preferred “independent.” The cool, opening memoir called “Light Speed” will feel familiar to the Atmosphere faithful with nostalgia for “Pogs and punk rock” and that defiant “if you need me, I’ll be in my hoody” attitude. This obvious influence is found throughout, always threatening to turn Together/Apart into a niche album, but then, unique numbers like the crypt-walking “On the Rocks” come along and Grieves becomes an inspired artist with his hands on the wheel, steering indie-hop down new avenues. Clever how a quote from Bobby Hebb’s effervescent “Sunny” shows up in the tortured (“I’ve been writin’ on the mirror with a razorblade/And chase away the devil in my brain that played me like a spade”) “Sunny Side of Hell,” and you can thank producer Budo for all the sample-free backing tracks, which also recall those Atmosphere guys, but a freer version willing to experiment with space rock (“Boogie Man”) and infectious G-funk (“No Matter What”). An easy recommendation for its obvious audience, but Together/Apart is a bit more than that as well, giving the genre of indie hip-hop some mass appeal whenever it decides to wild out. ~ David Jeffries
Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 26, 2019 | Rhymesayers
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