Grieves: Together/Apart

With lessons in love and loss and even an outspoken look at his struggle with addiction, Seattle based emcee, Grieves, releases his new album Together/Apart . Grieves worked closely with producer Budo to create an album filled with a deep wall of sound, and even takes a stab at a few instrumental tracks. There aren’t many emcees who choose to display their vocal talent, but on Together/Apart Grieves does a pretty efficient job at pulling together different harmonies for his hooks.

Solemn piano keys back up a contemplative Grieves on the opening track “Lightspeed” as he looks back from his humble beginnings to being mixed up with addiction before being brought out of his dark period through his love for music. Grieves lays down a funky hip hop beat as he begins his next track “On the Rocks”, and takes a jab at displaying his own soulful vocals, with impressive results.

A deep bass initiates the beginning of the track “Sunny Side of Hell”, where Grieves doesn’t pick up the mic at all except to sing the hook, instead letting the backing instruments and hip hop beat take the reins before the track winds down with an easy-going guitar solo.

The track “Tragic” features a cameo from Minneapolis-bred emcee Brother Ali, who Grieves allows to take a couple of bars to display his own smooth lyrical flow. “Pressure Cracks” shows the Grieves in a more vulnerable but honest place in his life, as he finds himself at a crossroads. The dragging beat reflects Grieves’ stressed state of mind as he takes listeners inside what has troubled his reflective mind.

Although similar in title to the classic Elvis song, the instrumental track “Heartbreak Hotel” offers the rhythm and blues in a different way with soulful guitar strings plucking away along with snapping fingers and a laid back hip hop beat. It’s not too long before the track breaks off in a different direction, picking up pace and ending with quick fingered guitar.

“Prize Fighter” is Grieves’ anthem of pulling through the hardest times, and is another prime example of producer Budo’s technique of providing impressively layered instrumentation with a grinding hip hop beat, hard hitting drums, and melancholic piano.

Together/Apart caters to an audience on the lookout for something fresh and more sentimental: a different vibe than what mainstream rap has to offer. Sixteen tracks (or nineteen tracks on iTunes) of layered production, instrumental takes, deep thoughts, testimonies of trials and tribulations, create an effective platform for the promising emcee to show his smooth lyrical flows

Check out the videos for the tracks “On The Rocks” and “Lightspeed” below!

Stephanie Gomez-Roxy Contributor

Review: Hot Sauce Committee Pt 2

Autotune? Contemporary radio friendly hip hop? Not here kids because the boys are back! Moving well into their 40’s, and group member MCA’S fight against a tumor was not going to stop the Beastie Boys from stepping back on the scene. Originally scheduled for release in September 2009, the eighth album was delayed to allow MCA to undergo treatment for a tumor to a salivary gland. But now with all members back together and healthy, the iconic hip hop trio make their long awaited return with their new release: Hot Sauce Committee part Two.

The Beastie Boys don’t need to try hard to stay relevant, and you won’t see any new mainstream artists sharing the limelight on Hot Sauce Committee. Instead, the Beastie Boys revisit their old school form, which shot them into stardom nearly 3 decades ago-a lifetime in the Hip Hop world.

Gritty funky beats start off the head bobbing with their opening track “Make Some Noise”, and once you start, it’ll be hard to quit throughout the whole album.

Although the cameos on the album are more than welcomed, they certainly don’t overshadow the intensity of the trio. The iconic Nas hits the stage with “Too Many Rappers”, in a dynamic collaboration that leaves you wishing the track could go on for a just while longer. Put four MC’s together with a gritty beat, and the battle will have you thinking it’s 1985 again.

Undeniable funk joins the house when Santigold, who recently debut her single “Go” with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, makes a memorable cameo when she lays down the funk on “Don’t Play No Game that I can’t win”.

“Lee Major’s Come Again” gives a nod to punk rock with hard hitting drums and guitars that may at first seem as out of place, but a closer listen verifies that it can only be a Beastie Boy creation. Immediately following is the instrumental “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament”, which is clearly their chance to give you a break from all the intense awesomeness before you jet off into “Here’s a Little Something for Ya”.

The guys don’t lack originality, and manage to have you reminiscing about the party rock albums from their past like 1986’s License to Ill, while looking to the future with their new tracks. Dynamic vintage Beastie Boys is what you’ll be getting from this album, and if you ask us, their fresh return is more than welcomed. This is the Beastie Boys’ past, present, and future all in one.

If you haven’t checked out their star-heavy short Fight For You Right (Revisited), check it out below! Featuring Will Ferrel, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, and Elijah Wood just to name a few (and we really mean just a few of all the cameos), the film features tracks off their new album.