Over the years it has become apparent that Hip-Hop comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Through their eclectic brand of music Grand Buffet manages to manifest itself in as many of these shapes, sizes and colors as possible. The duo of Lord Grunge (left, with dark hair) and Jackson (right, with red beard) have been making music together for over a decade and late last year they released a compilation album, Five Years of Fireworks, which almost acts as an introduction to the group for the many listeners out there who still haven’t heard their work. This week Lord Grunge took some time off from touring and recording to speak with us at RapReviews.com about the path Grand Buffet has taken to where they are today, the point at which they started to feel a little hated on, the influence their political views have on their music, and what’s up with all the Satan stuff.
Adam Bernard: For those who don’t know you, who is Grand Buffet and how did you two link up?
Lord Grunge: Grand Buffet is a group from Pittsburgh, PA. We write these raps, it’s experimental style rap. We met in high school a long ass time ago and just been real good homeboys ever since and pretty much been making music ever since. We were kickin it when we were kids, we came up both loving music and both rhymin. We’re still tryin to take it to that next level. That was kind of the idea when we were a lot younger, just tryin to do this shit on some career shit.
AB: Now you two don’t look like stereotypical rappers, what were people’s initial reactions when you told them you were going to be pursuing Hip-Hop as a career path?
LG: Well you know it’s funny, I can’t really speak for Jackson, in my family and I’m definitely, I can’t front, on some upper middle class white shit socio-economically, but Hip-Hop had always been a part of my family even given those demographics. From the time I was a kid I had an older brother who turned me on to this shit. My brother and I had been writing rhymes, literally since the very early 80’s it had been a presence in my family’s home and so had music period, so I don’t think it was that big a shocker personally as far as family and shit was concerned. As far as other people I don’t know, I don’t even think so much that it was rap, there’s definitely a stigma attached when you tell someone that you do music for a living, or that you’re trying to do music for a living, there definitely seems to be, at least in this country, to a lot of people it’s comparable to if you were saying I’m going to be a clown, or I’m going to deliver garbage and I’m going to do it in drag, and notice I said deliver garbage, not pick it up. I’m not hatin on any of those careers, but just stupid shit like when you get your teeth cleaned or you get your balls looked at by a doctor and they’re making small talk with you and you tell them that you do music for a career. Some people are just coming with straight respect and almost a even little envy, but a lot of people come with this position where it’s sort of “ah ha ha, silly little fuck.”
AB: Yeah, they’re sort of like “slacker.”
LG: Yeah, and that shit definitely gets old quick. Definitely experienced a lot of that and still do. To be truthful, as far as the fact that we’re doing rap, Jackson and I have been rhyming together for about a decade, and I didn’t really feel alienated until a lot later, it wasn’t until like probably 2000 / 2001 after it seemed to me kind of like that the white motherfuckers had invaded, it’s like all the, I don’t even know how to get nitpicky with genres but I think it’s a lot of the newer Hip-Hop fans and I don’t even think the race thing is that much of an issue it just sort of coincides. A whole lot more white people got into Hip-Hop in 99 / 2000 just like suddenly and that was when I started to kinda feel hated on and it was by other white kids who had sold their ska collection the week before and traded it in for Anticon and Def Jux records and stuff.
AB: Where do you think the hatred comes from? Because as you mentioned a lot of the newer fans haven’t really researched the history, why do you think they hate on some of the people who’ve been doing it for so long?
LG: It’s kind of a cool mystery, but it’s a mystery to me what motherfuckers like and don’t like. As far as why cats don’t like us I can think of a lot of reasons. There’s a lot of posturing that goes on in Hip-Hop, a lot of cats are just acting so hard even if they’re not claiming that they’re thugs or whatever, if they’re saying they’re coming with knowledge, that they’re on some peace shit, they still act so fucking hard all the time and we don’t do that, it would be stupid if we did. That’s never really been our shit. We’re just some zany motherfuckers and we let our nuts hang, on that level and I think a lot of cats react negatively to that. If someone doesn’t feel our music that’s fine, I don’t care, people like what they like and they don’t like what they don’t like, but I mean I know there’s cats who, if we dressed differently or if we fuckin acted a different way on the stage, it’s like a game to get approval a lot of the time and having played with a lot of bigger Hip-Hop acts it becomes a game. If you act a certain way you can at least get a pound after the show. That shit, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not for us. And I definitely think a lot of cats react negatively to us because we’re doing our thing and our thing’s kinda funky and it’s kinda weird.
AB: I was gonna say you do something that’s definitely different. When you started doing music together did you do so with the intent to create something radically different?
LG: To tell you the truth at first it wasn’t. When we first started out we just wanted to make music for the fuck of it and see where it took us. I made beats and Jackson rapped and that was pretty much it, but the shit we made always sounded insane, it just took us a little while to refine it. The mission was just to make music period and we gravitate towards making shit that sounds unique, for better or for worse, that’s natural for us.
AB: I’ve heard you say you feel some people don’t necessarily consider you Hip-Hop, what do you think they consider you then and is it a huge concern for you?
LG: I mean the cats I was thinking of when I said that, I’m thinking they probably consider us faggots. And no it’s not a huge concern for me. There’s people who fuck with our stuff that like it that don’t consider us Hip-Hop and that’s OK, too. I definitely think you can get into a lot of trouble when you try to categorize music too much, so if people dig our shit that’s really all that matters. In my mind Hip-Hop was never really that rigid or that formulaic, again I think that’s kind of more of a later thing to me. As far as what I think cats consider us I don’t know, I really don’t know. I think that the haters think it’s probably on some weak shit, but I don’t know. There’s definitely a lot of pop influence in our stuff, a lot of new wave influence, synth and stuff like that and there’s rock influence, too. It’s hard to say. For me, I do feel that it’s Hip-Hop but I’m not gonna get in a fight with a motherfucker over that, it’s music first and foremost so I don’t stress it too hard.
AB: You know you’re not a small dude, if you felt like getting in a fight over it the fight wouldn’t last very long.
LG: Yeah I got some for a motherfucker but I’ve got to save that for when it’s really important.
AB: I know you drink a lot of coffee, too, so if someone catches you on a hyped up day….
LG: I’m constantly zooted man, constantly, on this java.
AB: I also noticed as a duo, lyrically you enunciate all your words perfectly, was it always your intention to be anti-slang with your music, to say the er’s and the ing’s?
LG: That’s a testament to Jackson’s abilities as an MC. One thing that irks me is I have no problem when cats say that they don’t like us but when cats try to call us out as not being rap or not being able to rap that’s just bullshit, that dude can rhyme. It’s like when Vanilla Ice dissed Kid N Play, Play was like alright you might dance better than me but you don’t dance better than Kid. That’s kinda where I’m coming from. Jackson, he’s a wordsmith, straight up. As an MC I feel like he can really hang with, I’m not saying with anyone of all time, but as far as the newer pastier motherfuckers doing it now I think that just on a raw talent level I think he can hang with anybody. I’m not saying that for myself, not by any stretch of the imagination. But yeah that is, and it gets me pumped that you picked up on that because a lot of people don’t which I don’t see how they can’t but you clearly are a motherfucker that knows his shit.
AB: The degree in journalism comes in handy once in a while.
LG: Right, right, flex that muscle sometimes.
AB: I also noticed you guys have some strong political views as evidenced on songs like Oh My God You’re Weird andAmericus (Religious Right Rock). What’s kind of odd is that they seem diametrically opposed views. On Oh My God You’re Weird you say show the president some respect while Americus is an obvious lampoon of the current administration.
LG: Well I gotta make it real clear the line in Oh My God You’re Weird is totally facetious. It’s 100% facetious. I, we, fucking hate the current administration. You’d be amazed how many people take the Americus song literally, word for word. The thing with Oh My God You’re Weird is confusing because it sounds really sincere and it’s just sounds thrown in there, but that’s done totally facetiously.
AB: When you say that I suddenly realize the title of the song is Oh My God You’re Weird and that comment is something most people would say “oh my God you’re weird” to.
LG: Yeah, like whether you were serious or it’s like oh we’re kidding it’s like oh you’re fuckin weird for putting that on a record. Some of our tracks, too, are sort of little jokes unto themselves. We both work on a lot of solo stuff and I’m tryin to come with a track, I don’t think it will make the cut on the actual Grand Buffet LP, but I’m working on a track that’s kind of lampooning the left in this country, as well.
AB: So you’re gonna hit both sides?
LG: Yeah cuz they can both suck my dick all day. I think they’re both in their essence vying to be totalitarians they’re just coming at it from different angles, but I think both roads lead to the same place in my mind.
AB: So would you consider yourself more of a Libertarian?
LG: Absolutely. I’m registered independent, but ethically and philosophically I definitely am fuckin with these Libertarians pretty hard.
AB: Are you like me, have you never actually voted for a winner of an election, have you always ended up voting for someone who loses?
LG: Yeah actually. Not that I’m proud to have voted for all these, and I have to come correct I did vote for Skeletor in the last election with really mixed feelings. I don’t know, looking back it’s something I kind of regret doing and by Skeletor I mean scary John Kerry. That was a weird time, but whatever, F it. So are you of that ilk, as well?
AB: Yeah I’m registered independent and I’ve never voted for a winner.
LG: That’s pretty cool man.
AB: It’s a trend that I’m sure I’ll keep up unless one of those parties throws someone at me that I can respect.
LG: I don’t think it can ever happen man. When you’re like twelve and thirteen your opinion is pretty much your parents, at least that’s how it was for me I know there’s other kids who were way ahead of me on that shit, but I mean it’s like Clinton’s cool, Reagan’s a dick. There’s so much more to it than that.
AB: How important is it to you to include some politics with your insanity?
LG: That’s a good question and I don’t know. The time we put out Americus it was like, things weren’t any better than they are now, I didn’t write those lyrics, those are Jackson’s lyrics, but once I heard em I was like this has to go out, it has to go out right now, it’s so relevant right now. I don’t think it’s any less relevant. I guess I’m not really sure. I’m working on a couple solo projects that are pretty overtly political. I’m not sure how much I want, I guess that’s something we sorta as a group have to determine. It’s always gonna be a presence, but it might continue to be like a subtle presence. I don’t know if we’ll ever necessarily dedicate a whole album to our political views. We might. I don’t know. I guess to answer your question, I’m not sure.
AB: Moving in another direction, what’s with all the Satan stuff?
LG: In my mind all religions, I’m trying to sound condescending, respect to anyone who holds beliefs, but it’s like comic book shit to me. None of it is real to me, none of it speaks to me, and it’s like to me doing a song about Satan is no different than doing a song about The Joker except that it’s cooler because it’s heavier. That shit’s just cool to me, I think it would be hot to do a song about Jesus on that same tip, like a story rhyme about Jesus sparking a fucking joint, elbowing a motherfucker in the face and like crashing his car just because in my mind those are characters that are heavy, that have all this crazy cultural significance and to be frank none of it really means shit to me, but it’s a fun heavy concept to play with. I don’t really worship the devil and I honestly don’t know shit about Satanism, Jackson’s more up on Satanism than I am. He’s not a practitioner, but he’s more up on it as a religion or whatever one would call it.
AB: If you want to hear some interesting songs about Jesus you might want to pick up a Kinky Friedman CD. Finally, speaking of CDs, what do you hope listeners get out of your music when they pick up an album like Five Years of Fireworks?
LG: I just hope they feel it. I don’t care what level it’s on. I think all music has many levels, from the simplest shit to the most complex shit, I think it all has many levels. I just hope that cats feel it on some level whether they fuck with the music, fuck with the rhymes, fuck with the concepts, anything at all, I hope cats can feel it any level, I hope they can dig it in some way. That’s pretty much it.