Release Date: Mar 25, 2014
Record label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap
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!]").
Grieves is still on a several-year upswing; his Rhymesayers’ debut in 2011 caused enough of a splash to make Winter & The Wolves awaited by more fans than he’s ever had. Since Together Apart, Grieves and producer Budo have separated, and the rapper has picked up with San Jose, California native B. Lewis. The effect of the transition is noticeable but both producers, and obviously Grieves himself, have a knack for lush poppiness.
Ire for the Seattle rapper Macklemore has obscured the thrift shopper’s pedigree. Before Macklemore was the poster boy for mainstream rap’s identity crisis, he was just another inoffensive, independent rapper, with a facile flow, a pleasant attitude and a real love for the genre of music he had chosen to work within. But give the guy a couple of catchy beats and suddenly he’s sprung to life as the vanilla oppressor of rap’s traditionalists, too approachable by half and more than willing to lecture hip-hop on everything it’s doing wrong.
With the Seattle hip-hop scene being laid upon the blogosphere’s examination table thanks to the Grammy-winning domination of Macklemore, there’s going to be at least a dozen rappers turned over for inspection. Although he’s released four albums’ worth of material now, Grieves is going to be one such piece of meat on the slab. What are they going to find when they do get a hold of him? If their first stop is at Winter & The Wolves, it is 14 tracks worth of downtempo production that emphasizes live piano work and Roger Troutman-like gurgles of modular synths over which Benjamin Laub (Grieves’ birth name) opines about the woman who done him wrong and his moral failings.