Lazy Grey is a veteran emcee hailing out of Brisbane, Queensland, a state in the northern part of Australia. This geography lesson is relevant because Lazy Grey likes to make it clear that Brisbane can not and should not be lumped together with every other Australian city out there. It’s a phenomenon that is not foreign to American rap fans. In fact, some stateside rappers take offense to mixing up what neighborhood or street they hail from. In some cases, the distinction is much more than mere tough talk as different regions show diversity in sounds and styles. Australia is no different as Lazy Grey has spent years creating his own style of Australian hip-hop music. Dubbed “barbecue and beer” music, Lazy Grey has become known for his laid back and universal take on rap music. Blending traditional hip-hop musical elements with Australian musical samples, Lazy Grey is a dope producer as well. With his latest CD, “The Soundtrack” he looks to show the world what Brisbane is capable of doing on the hip-hop scene.
With “The Soundtrack,” Lazy Grey defies the expectations set for him. Though all the press to be found about him leans towards an emcee that is more Sublime and Fresh Prince than PE and Common, Lazy Grey’s latest CD shows us a socially conscious and deep emcee. The album starts and remains occupied with socially relevant themes and darker, head-nodding production. “Don’t Cha Hear Me” deals with the Lazy Grey’s skepticism of organized religion. “New World” revisits the theme as Lazy Grey expounds on his conspiracy theories:
“Say farewell to the old world
It’s life or the money
Time to face the cunning
The science fiction on the surface
Where the serpent’s hungry
They feed us crumbs, keep us numb
You gone to serve your country
Fighting never ending battle in the urban jungle
Unbound the sequence, open up a world of trouble
Read between every single line and see the struggle
Search for peace found a piece of the foreign puzzle
Murder speech, when I speak get the crowd to rumble”
While Lazy Grey’s topic matter is not groundbreaking, given his unique international perspective it is definitely appealing to rap fans. Grey also manages to keep things interesting through his song structure. The traditional verse/hook structure is in place, but Grey has a few tracks which are broken down into two parts with two different beats. Instead of stretching out a concept to the point of watering it down, Lazy Grey is content with addressing it and pairing the 2 minute track with another 2 minute track of similar theme. Lazy Grey isn’t all serious on his album though with some upbeat and catchy tracks in the mix. “Paranoid” features Lenwun and Miss Brown, with Miss Brown stealing the show with a spectacularly soulful voice on the hook. The song is catchy as anything on the radio while maintaining Lazy Grey’s serious overtones. “Smoke Steady” features a Big L line scratched into the hook and an upbeat sample that keeps the energy going through out.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Lazy Grey’s “The Soundtrack.” Given his veteran status overseas, I wasn’t surprised at the skill level on the CD. Instead, I was surprised that someone who was in world so different from mine could make music I could relate to so much. While I’m not as well versed in Australian hip-hop to discern the differences between Lazy Grey’s Brisbane style of rap and the styles produced in other parts of the continent, I do know that rarely have I come across an Australian hip-hop act I don’t like. Lazy Grey is no different. The conspiracy theories and serious overtones may wear on some, but the dope production and variety keeps things interesting and make this a CD worth peeping.