Grieves doesn't purport to have the answers. Rather than preach the standard fare of arrogance & impossible wisdom, the young MC lays out relatable struggles through poetically lush & vivid lyrical narratives that indicate not only a sharp upward trajectory of personal evolution, but a determination to connect to a core humanity.
Teaming up with longtime friend and producer Budo, the maturing rapper returns with his third LP and Rhymesayers debut Together/Apart, an album sixteen tracks deep full of darkly translucent lyricism and deliciously minimalist slow-drip production that depicts a leap of evolution for the gifted young rhymespitter and his partner in production.
We caught up with Grieves after his Warped Tour appearance in Ventura to discuss his relationship with Rhymesayers, his role as a Hip-Hop ambassador amidst Warped’s punk/metal spazzery and what the future holds.
First off, thanks for bringing it with a fantastic new record. Together/Apart has been a cornerstone part of the Summer soundtrack around here. How's Warped Tour been for you so far, shifting an insightful introspective energy to a festival happy-sunshine format? It's worlds apart from a festival like Soundset, and you're representing a genre that's an extreme minority.
Warped tour has been good man! It's a different scene for us.. And we aren't used to so much vitamin d… But god dammit I'll be darned if we aren't out here whooping it up, cracking smiles and having fun.
Rhymesayers seems to have had a lot of crossover success by sending acts out on Warped. What's the best fan reaction you've seen so far onthe tour?
My favorite part about what's happening out here is watching kids that DO NOT listen to hip hop all stop… Watch.. And fall in love with the music. That's the most powerful shit to me.
Warped tends to have a really strong sense of self-expression -particularly on the fashion side – has that freed you up to let your freak flag fly a little more?
I don't need warped to let my freak flag fly. I stopped giving a shit years ago. Warped has helped me get this awesome farmers tan though…… Ladies love farmers tans.
The inspiration and guidance of watching Slug make his mark growing up, then to touring with Atmosphere, must've helped you prepare for the attention that Together/Apart is bringing your way. What else do you take from artists like Sean?
Sean taught me what it's like to work your ass off and not stop. I grew up watching him pound the pavement.. But not only that… I watched him do it gracefully. When the time came for me to step up and swing.. I promised myself I wouldn't stop till I knocked it out the park. So don't expect me to slow this down any time soon. I'm a rhymesayer now.. I intend to act like one.
You broke away from samples on the new record as well. Was Budo on board with that right off, given his skill set, or was it his idea?
We both grew up playing instruments.. So when we sat down to produce this record.. It was only natural to do it the way we have been talking about for the past few years. No samples, spine tingling layers, and haunting beautiful space.
Are the new songs taking any different flavors on in live performance yet?
It's really tied our performance together.. Come out and get your face rocked! It the perfect life hip hop mixture.
You've said "I want to do timeless music. I don’t want to make pay the rent music." How does someone do that when they're scraping bottom starting out?
They shoot from the heart. They lead by the soul.. And they don't fold for SHIT.
How do you feel about the military recruiting new soldiers at a music festival like Warped Tour, particularly when we're engaged in two hugely unpopular (and staggeringly expensive) wars?
I have no comment. My friends and family are out there fighting.. My friends and family are here protesting… I don't know where to stand in all that. Bring the troops home safe.
You're working on some sexy soul music, according to the grapevine – what's the motivation there? Will we get to hear any of it?
I listen to soul music. Grew up on it. The older I get.. The more I find myself re creating my influences. It excites me! You might get to here it.. We'll see.
As for the off-hours between shows & music making, what's in your Netflix queue that you keep putting off? We've all got those documentaries and shows we know we should watch, but keep delaying the commitment.
Game of Thrones!
Watching an artist like Brother Ali move from personal narratives to turning the perspective outward on his last record was fantastic as a fan, watching him turn the focus out to deal with stories about people he knew & situations he experienced as a spectator. There's a more seasoned sound on your new record, and it's clearly resonating with fans. But if you had to take a 10 year snapshot of yourself in the future, what would you imagine your own evolution arriving at as a musician?
I don't wanna project into my future. I'm a take it as it goes kind of guy. Let's just say.. We all evolve. Whether for the good or for the bad.. Change will come. I intend to embrace that change and document its course.
Keep up with Grieves & pick up Together/Apart at Rhymesayers.