Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Grouch and Eligh - Say G&E

This has been burning up my ipod all summer-- providing a perfect soundtrack to nice to days in the park, at the beach, at cook-outs, pretty much everywhere in the city as well as two trips back east.

As any fan of underground hip hop worth their salt could tell you, these two Cali vets have been putting it down as individuals and collectively with the rest of The Living Legends crew for well over a decade. I consider myself a fairly well-versed Legends fan, and I gotta say, it doesn’t get any better than this. Their third collab and the follow-up to 2003’s No More Greener Grasses is damn near flawless.

It’s one of the best hip hop records to drop in ‘09, but, even more than that, it’s the type that’ll be designated a classic in ten years. On the surface it’s a great party record drenched in the kind of laid back summer vibes that would be accessible even to those not inclined to listen to hip hop.

The beats, which are fuckin’ slammin’, are mostly Eligh’s; though Flying Lotus, DJ Fresh and Amplive contribute as well. The shear quality and variety of styles on display is impressive. Eligh has always been the best Legends producer in my opinion, but he’s clearly taken his game to the another level since Greener Grasses. Look no further than Comin’ Up featuring Mr F.A.B., where he flips a Band of Horses sample into one of the dopest tracks on the album, if you need proof.

Upon repeat listens, Say G&E is an expansive album with remarkable depth and heavyweight subject matter . The Legends, and especially Grouch, have always exemplified “conscious” hip hop to me and this is no exception. The message(s) transcend tired stereotypes about politics and ignorance. These themes are covered (and expertly) on Rivers Run Dry and Worried About the World feat. Sage Francis and Mike Marshal, but they’re really just footnotes. This album apparently seeks to snap-shot no less than the richness of the human experience.

This would be impossibly pretentious if attempted by almost any other rappers, but Grouch and Eligh are masters at grounding their verses in the reality of actual experience (as opposed to phony posturing) which produces endearingly genuine results.

The title track, which rides an ill Flaming Lips sample with Grouch rapping about his humble Fruitvale beginnings, is a homage to the determination it takes to make it as an “underground MC”-- working shit jobs and hustling beats to make ends. Eligh ups the realness factor even more. Anybody who knows anything about the misery of addiction will relate to his lyrics. On the Rick Rock produced Living In Denial, Eligh, waxes first person about being locked in a seemingly irreversible collision course with oblivion. Grouch plays the part of a close friend-- confused, hurt and powerless (which is probably not far from the way it actually went down). This is real existential, dark-knight-of-the-soul shit here. The addiction theme is expanded in several other tracks (I Know You Wanna Feel and Teach Me the Way, All In) each one documenting another stage in the process of redemption.

The overall sensation for me that emerges from this record is one of overwhelming reverence for the sanctity of existence. As Grouch raps on Push On (Push Up) I really wanna loop the feeling/Repeat it for the world to see”

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