Release Date: Jun 21, 2011
Record label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap
If you start out for a destination and enjoy the journey, it’s probably a sign you need to continue to explore. This is my weird allegory for the fact that you should never stop trying to discover new artists (in rap, particularly, in this case). If the most famous dudes on an underground label tickle your fancy, you should dig in the crates a little more and see if the lesser-known artists are as good.
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.
A few years back critics attempted to box rappers who dropped a 16 about relationship problems or mental distress under the label “Emo Rap. ” While well-intentioned, the term vastly undermined the significance of their music, with acts like Atmosphere and Cage connecting with fans on an intimate level that went beyond double entendre metaphors. Grieves makes this same presence felt on his latest effort Together/Apart, an album that caters to the broken and weary.
The rock n’ roll lifestyle seems like the most amazing of dreams to those of us not a part of it: Different cities, new people each night, possibilities of amazing creativity, and doing what you love for your fans. Sure, there’s the tour bus, cramped quarters, gas station food, and whatnot, but, for some, that’s close enough to current events to make it not seem scary. The truth of the matter is that the touring life can be a lonely and isolated thing.
Grieves seems like a good dude, if a pretty intense and single-minded one. He reminds me of an aged-out, nomadic skate rat who posts up in a downtown coffeeshop to scribble poetry about the 10 lives it feels like he's lived so far. He's not a pseudo-intellectual, and while he's been through some shit, he's also not a whiner, preferring to be positive about his future, occasionally almost to a fault.
Together/Apart is a manifestation of Rhymesayers Entertainment's marketing department and their seemingly neverending quest to homogenize hip-hop. Their understanding of the 20-something white male psyche is unrivaled in this industry. It is unfortunate; Grieves has the makings of a multi-dimensional vocalist with a pleasant voice and something of substance to say with it.