Attention all up and coming artists: please put your every effort into making your recordings sound decent. The entire long-winded process that is producing an album, which involves laborious tasks such as writing songs, making beats, booking studio time, taking care of legalities, pressing up records, doing promotion and all the while putting other important things in your life on hold will be jeopardized when the final product LOOKS like a record but doesn’t SOUND like one. Something has definitely gone wrong when your album’s sound quality is so bad listeners can’t even judge if the music is any good. Such is the case with Grayco’s “Say My Name See My Face”, a CD we only decided to review because through its murky atmosphere shows a rapper that at the very least deserves another chance to shine, then hopefully in a cleaned up environment.
Grayco hails from the uncharted territory of South Carolina where he made a living picking cotton. As a member of the group South Case he has created a buzz he now hopes to intensify with this solo project. Lyrically, he’s as much influenced by The LOX as he is by the Goodie Mob. On tracks such as “Target Practice” and “Transformers”, he displays a distinctively New York flow and rhetoric. Not surprisingly though, Grayco sounds better on tracks that fit our notions of how rappers from the south are supposed to sound. “For Gangstas” is not only superior in sound quality but features a captivating performance by Grayco as he reaches out to the younger generation with some words of wisdom:
“You got gangstas and fakers
See, all the real gangstas, they gangsta by nature
Gangstas ’bout paper, it’s like a gangsta curse
so don’t be thinkin’ you was gangsta first
You buggin’ if you ever think you thuggin’ it worse
cause when they put you in that all-black hearse
and carry your ass around that all-black church
and drop the casket in that soft-ass dirt
and you done put in all that work – for what?
And your mother needs a hug
OG’s, you gotta be the guidin’ light
but if we guide ’em, we gotta guide ’em right
Dear Lord, don’t let that little nigga die tonight”
With a hint of Cee-Lo and Trick Daddy in his style, Grayco’s conversational flow works very well over the eerie, melancholic wails of Trevin ‘Big Trev’ Clark’s track. And if a chorus is supposed to sum up a song, then Grayco’s fatalistic “I thought gangstas lived by certain codes and rules / or… or maybe I’m just old school” achieves its mission.
Grayco further displays old school ethics on “What Now? (Niggas Know)”, which he starts off by calling out a biter:
“This old crab-ass nigga done stole my riff
in the studio bitin’, son, you testin’ my balls?
Bust through the sound-proof walls tryin’ to get at you, dog
See, if you bite it you bought it and if you bought it you owe
and if you owe you better believe you gon’ pay me, bro
I been perfectin’ this crazy flow since ’84”
Unfortunately, if you go that far back, you should be able to deliver a more refined product in 2002. Grayco may be versed in writing songs on all kinds of topics, from sex (“Candy Freak”) to battling (“Religion v. Science”) to crew love (“My Partner”) to relationships (“It’s Over”) to introspection (“I Want to Thank You”) but the one big stumbling block remains firmly planted in “Say My Name See My Face” – the inferior sound quality. Despite the lyrical knowledge this rapper may possess, he has yet to understand that to succeed in this game it takes more than just a pen, a pad and a microphone. The control you need to exert extends well beyond “I’ll never let another nigga roll my dice / control the mic everytime I hold the mic.” Hopefully, his words from “More” will come true for future releases: “By the time y’all get in I’m already be gone / cause I’m too grown to stay in one place too long.”