I managed to miss "Irreversible" when it came out (hey what can I say, s--t happens)
so my first introduction to Grieves was when he and Budo took "Felt 3" and put their own spin on it. For a while those
two names seeemd cojoined in hip-hop. People said "Budo and Grieves" in underground
rap conversations the way hungry kids say "peanut butter and jelly." They just seemed
to go together and you didn't even think of one without hearing and saying the other
in your head and out loud. I was always a weird kid though - I liked peanut butter and
banana sandwiches better. Still do.
Either way it became clear to me that like peanut butter
Grieves tasted good on his own
and his flavor was well preserved. Even if you put him on the shelf for a while and
took him out a few years later the
freshness still managed to last. In fact if we're going to take the oral analogy the
whole way many would argue Grieves is like a fine wine that just gets better over time.
I'm always skeptical when somebody is dubbed "the next thing" on the independent rap
scene, but Grieves won me over with an unpretentious self-deprecating style that
injects an occasional sung musicality without relying on AutoTune. Even an average
Grieves album is an inoffensive listen, and a good one is something special indeed.
Since there's a video for it "Gutz" is as good of a place to start on "Running Wild"
as any other. Grieves flew to Stockholm to record this album with Swedish producer
Chords, and by his own account being sleep-deprived and jet lagged gave him what might
be similar to the lack of restraint a drunk dialer has -- an uncomfortable amount of
emotional honesty to the person on the other end. "Gutz" is in fact all of those things
rolled into one -- emotional honesty, drunk dialing, unapologetic sexuality, and all
over a quiet combination of synths and horns. I'm not sure how Grieves would feel if
I called his song/rap "anti boom bap" but that's the feeling it gives me and not in
a bad way. There's no thumping beat, no swaggering bravado, no male posturing. It's
just a man talking about his complicated love/hate relationship with an intoxicating
"You said you'd never call again
but I can hear your knuckle bones cracking on my door
I said I'd never fall again (fall again)
but here I am, looking up at you from the floor
Crazy that you got it, just the kind that I'm addicted to
It makes me feel like killing you
I think about it now and then
and I remembered what I used the drugs for, and
I think about you and say 'f--k you'
Then you come over and I f--k you
You think about me and say 'f--k you'
Then I come over and I f--k you"
On the other end of the spectrum is "Bonnie and Clyde," but the down ass girl on
Grieves' team to complete the theme goes unnamed here unlike Yo-Yo. Trust me I searched
the press kit, the Rhymesayers website, Bandcamp and the like to no avail. Maybe it's
because she only sings on the hook and doesn't actually drop bars, but I still wanted
to know who inspired such devotion from him. "You and I, in the wind/
your Mickey, the love of my life." After swallowing that unrepentant dose
of loyalty, I think I need another presecription to counteract it. Enter "Rx."
"Don't forget to breathe out though" as the song's sedative effects kick in and
keep "pulling me under the water." Once again Grieves seems to have tapped a vein
of emotions and poured the results into an inkwell, then put his life on parchment before
going into the studio in an anemic state. "I ain't got the answers/I'm a man that's trying
to make it on his own without a hiccup/and they don't understand it/they just lookin at me
probably thinkin I'ma f--kin slip-up." There's no such thing as an even keel for Grieves
on these songs. He lets his emotions sweep him away with the tide, from lust to loyalty to
loathing. That's the appeal of Grieves though - he's the Emperor with no clothes who isn't
trying to pretend he isn't as naked as he seems.
"Running Wild" is 52 minutes and change of Grieves and Chords pulling you along through
their emotional ocean. On songs like "Postcards" and "What I Dew" I get the impression he
likes strong liquor a little too much (particularly Templeton Rye and Dewar's Blended Scotch)
but such vices are the luxury of a successful and/or tormented artist - funny how they often
seem to go hand in hand. Cameos are either unstated as noted or kept very minimal when stated.
Paris Alexa appears twice on "Boop Bop Da Willy Willy" and "No Sleep," while the closest thing
to a posse song is "Roses" featuring Davey Jones and Fierce Vill. No more is required or requested.
Like the aforementioned liquors Grieves is best served straight up and unblemished. Don't pour
him over the rocks and water him down - take him straight up and enjoy the ride.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10