As the Living Legends crew has survived for over a decade, they have clearly churned out some of the most celebrated underground emcees in California including The Grouch and Eligh, who frequently collaborate as G&E. Joining forces in the past in "G & E Music, Vol. 1 & 2" and "No More Greener Grasses," they continue to add to the long list of projects each has released after all these years. Collectively, The Grouch and Eligh come together once again, combining their distinctive styles and lyricism in their newest partnership in "Say G&E!"
Fellow Bay Area artist, Mystic, entices the audience with some poetic enlightenment as she effectively prepares the audience for what is to come on "Say G&E!" with the message to be free in what you say. The album's title track soon follows with its futuristic sounds as The Grouch and Eligh provide a timeline as they reminisce back to the beginning of their music and eventually leading up to the development of their artistry in its current state. "Comin' Up" featuring Mistah F.A.B. further explains the struggle in the music scene while facing disapproval and antagonism from others as The Grouch poignantly says:
"Well, now they be claiming friend
But they ain't happy for me
Seems more like a competition
Where you act like you're pleased
Because everybody's mission's to position themselves
And build up a large supply, my personal well
If you see success you know that people will talk
And yes, we all are equal and my ego ain't lost either, but
I'm neither stuck nor winning ‘cause of this skin tone"
Despite difficulties and setbacks in their lives, the duo maintains a positive outlook on life as it is felt throughout the album and on the same token, teaches a thing or two to their less seasoned audience about the soul. As they maintain their dignity and strength, the pair sets out to relay some positive words in the upbeat, pop sounding "All In" featuring the well recognized Gift of Gab and Pigeon John. In "Teach Me the Way," G&E gives praise to those who have shaped their lives as Eligh refers to people such as his mother who has stood by his side even when he was going astray.
It's obvious that The Grouch and Eligh have matured immensely as their lyrics no longer revolve around partying and entertainment, but instead, they address sincere issues facing society with solutions to remedy the problems. Rick Rock's production of "Denial" with its light piano keys sets the tone for this somber track that addresses friends and loved ones that are in denial with their addictions. Perhaps Eligh takes on his own personal take on addiction as he effortlessly raps about surviving beyond the realm of drugs while no longer in denial. Trumpets and simple bass commence "I Know You Wanna Feel" which delves deep into the idea of extending help to those yearning for assistance as finding one's soul is the solution as The Grouch says, "Reach down into the pit of your very existence and visualize that childhood innocence. You know that purity we all once had?"
The Grouch and Eligh even go as far as incorporating an environmentally conscious track in "Rivers Run Dry" and attempts to show their concern for the current situation of humanity in "Worried About the World" featuring Mike Marshall and Sage Francis. Of course, you can't have an album without a song about relationships and love so "No Flowers" does the trick with G&E's own rendition of the old Neil Diamond/Barbara Streisand classic "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."
We all know The Grouch and Eligh are masterminds of lyricism, but what set "Say G&E!" apart from their previous projects was the production on this album. Although I expected much more from Amp Live's production on "!Boom!" which ended up sounding choppy and amateur with its oversimplified, monotonous electronic tones, this was the only occasion where production fell short. Surprisingly, even Slug's appearance on "!Boom!" could not redeem the track. The airy production from Flying Lotus' in "Old Souls" and soft piano keys featured in Rick Rock's production of "Denial" are well suited for the tracks. DJ Fresh does an exceptional job on "Do It Again" as he incorporates a beautifully transitioning ethereal beat with melodious female vocals. The multi-layered beat only complements both The Grouch and Eligh's lyrics on this brilliant track-definitely a track to put on repeat.
"Say G&E!" clearly shows that these veteran artists have reached a level of maturity and insightfulness that goes far beyond their other projects. Not only is it apparent that The Grouch and Eligh still flourish after all these years, but the duo has only grown with Eligh's production skills and The Grouch's unforgotten signature style. With its extensive list of top rated collaborators (Slug, Sage Francis, Gift of Gab, Amp Live all on one album-ridiculous) and the variety in production, "Say G&E!" proves that The Grouch and Eligh's partnership is still alive and thriving while only adding to their continued success.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 21, 2009