For those who haven't noticed, there's a movement going on up in Boston, Mass. And, no, I'm not referring to Benzino's "exposing" of Eminem as a racist. If you've been sleeping, it's time to wake up. Grit Records and their acts have been on the grind for a minute now, most notably with legendary MC KRS-One and up-and-coming producer Soul Supreme. In its short existence, Grit Records has already released a few note-worthy releases under its belt, including "The Saturday Night Agenda," which featured luminaries like Pete Rock, Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One, and KRS-One's latest LP, "Keep Right."
These guys take an approach much like the one Nas did with his "The Lost Tapes" LP—no hype, no bullshit. This is just straight hard beats with hard rhymes. True to form, Supastition, definitely an MC to watch for in 2005, kicks off the LP with "Step It Up" (a title sure to make Pete Rock proud), a plea for his peers to bring their skills to the table and leave the posturing at home. His first verse sets the tone for the rest of the LP:
"Now let me introduce myself
I'm Mr. Bad Luck, yup I paid dues
Been here forever, y'all just slept on my debut
I've been kept on labels
And learned when you get dealt a hand
Full of bullshit you play with it like Elton Brand
Just when you thought that urban music was dead
I resurfaced with a purpose of proving I'm never losing my edge
This Carolina cat flows infinite
My brain is like Korean food—
No one knows what's in it (meow)
Bringing the drama to my team is like sparking a gas fire
'cause I run with a regime the size of a mass choir
I'm the champion, I march around town victorious
Leave you nervous like the blue lights on Crown Victorias
My crew, we make rappers kiss the ground before us
The underground, notorious, put your crowns in storages
These cats ain't moving towards us
I make niggas fans by the second bars
Turn 'em to groupies before the chorus
Step it up!"
Speaking of paying dues, O.C. turns up on "The Professional" to drop some of the hot lines he's been known to do for over a decade now. The Cockroach Click (yes, that really is their moniker) provides the smoothed-out, soulful beat for the rapping of Detrimental Beatheads on "Niggas Don't Know," and, despite their atrocious handle, actually lace the hot beats on the compilation.
But, for all intents and purposes, this compilation is the Soul Supreme show. He's had a buzz for a minute now—since producing tracks for KRS-One on his last couple of LPs, "The Saturday Night Agenda," and his unofficially released remix projects like "SOULMatic," and "Soul And Sense" (his reworks of "Stillmatic" and random Common songs, respectively). Soul Supreme, just one of a few European producers making noise right now, can flip it in a number of ways. On "Sunshine Days," he takes his stab at flipping the super-soulful Al Green classic "I Wish You Were Here," which is becoming a popular sample these days as Kanye West recently put his own sped-up vocal stamp on it for Consequence's "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly." But Soul Supreme makes it very much his own, with an eerie underground feel, and L Da Headtoucha delivers lyrically. He's on his laid-back steez on "Who's Who," featuring the versatile raps of Jeru The Damaja sound-alike Akbar, and "What Would U Do?," with the smooth narratives of T-Max.
Soul Supreme rarely fails to deliver, though the Funked-out, '70s style remix of "Still Spittin'," from KRS's "Stay Right" LP, seems a bit out of place. In terms of final pay-off, this album offers little, though, being a compilation, that is not surprising. If there is a common theme to be found here amongst this collective of producers and rappers, it is in fact that they share a hunger to wake heads up to their sound and a genuine love for the art form they cherish. KRS-One and Soul Supreme are obviously the biggest names here, but Supastition, OC, L Da Headtoucha, Akbar, Shuman, T-Max and The Cockroach Click all prove they're not exactly slouches either. As long as there are fans of no nonsense hip hop, Grit Records has a bright future.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: September 28, 2004