Last year one of my favorite new discoveries was Red Pill and Hir-O’s “The Kick” album (which also made my list of top albums in 2013). In addition to that album, I discovered a collective of talented underground rappers and producers in Michigan called the BLAT! Pack. Out of that group, Red Pill was my favorite emcee and Hir-O was my favorite beat maker. In the beginning of 2014, I saw Hir-O promoting a project with Detroit emcee, Greenlee, on which Hir-O produces eight tracks.
I definitely checked out Greenlee’s “Greenfield Radio” for the beats. It was towards the end of January 2014 – probably the coldest month of my life, and since there wasn’t all that much new music to listen to at that point, the album got regular spins during my morning commutes. I was instantly blown away by the production. Hir-O shows more range on “Greenfield Radio” than I heard on any of his previous projects. “Dark Liquor” and “Polished” feature beautifully flipped vocal samples, subtly layered instrumentation and hard snapping drums.
Initially, I wasn’t blown away by Greenlee’s abilities as a rapper. He has a charismatic personality and a sharp flow, but he seems to have more style than substance. But the more I listened to “Greenfield Radio,” the more I grew to like Greenlee’s style of rapping. On “Common Sense” he tackles more heavy subject matter, but for the most part, this album focuses on braggadocio, catchy hooks and swagger. And sometimes that’s all it takes to make a good album. Songs like “#Swag,” “Polished” and “Loungin'” feature grade A shit talking, and are a lot of fun to listen to. On most of the album, Greenlee’s delivery reminds me of that Young Chris/Jay-Z “whisper flow,” but on the Red Pill-featured “Jimmy Haffa” he appropriately matches the high energy of the rock-influenced beat.
“Greenfield Radio” is yet another excellent release to come out of Detroit. In 2013, Detroit produced more great hip hop music than anywhere else. But more importantly, the area has a large crop of young, up-and-coming rappers. Jon Connor just inked a deal with Dr. Dre, Red Pill is building a nice rapport with Mello Music, and James Gardin is releasing a lot of exciting material. Greenlee flashes a lot of great potential on “Greenfield Radio.” He’s sharp, has a good sense of humor and most importantly, he can effortlessly create hooks that will pull in listeners. I’m excited to hear what’s coming next from these young, talented artists.