Monday, April 13, 2015
Greg Grease - Born To Lurk Forced To Work, Radio K Album of the Week
Minneapolis Greg Grease released his sophomore record Born To Lurk Forced To Work and "pop-up shop" a few weeks ago at Public Functionary Art Gallery. This week Radio K features Born To Lurk Forced To Work as their Album Of The Week, with a nice review and download of "Work Song". Album artwork by I Self Devine.
Greg Grease - Born to Lurk, Forced to Work (Sound Verite Records)
It isn’t even halfway over, and already 2015 is one of the best years for hip-hop in recent memory. The wall that once divided so-called “conscious rap” from everything else has been thoroughly obliterated by the likes of Kendrick Lamar (with To Pimp a Butterfly), Kanye West (with “All Day” and, if what he’s been saying about it is true, the rest of Yeezy’s forthcoming record So Help Me God), and now local emcee Greg Grease, with his sophomore album Born to Lurk, Forced to Work. The Minneapolis rapper has crafted a record that deftly walks the line between laid-back weed rap and sophisticated political discourse, and he never lets either side of this double consciousness subsume the other. Born to Lurk, Forced to Work is a triumph for Grease and his crew and a statement that signals a new era for Twin Cities hip-hop.
It’s certainly fair to say that on a basic technical level, Greg Grease is the most talented hip-hop artist in the Twin Cities right now. No one makes dazzling internal rhyme schemes and breakneck flows sound as slyly simple as Grease. Take one of the record’s singles, “Really Tho,” produced by his afrofuturist electro-funk side-project ZULUZULUU and Big Quarters’ Medium Zach. Grease locks into a transcendent double-time flow that reminds you exactly why Q-Tip’s pops used to say hip-hop reminded him of bebop.
Even more staggering is the way Grease manages to use his technical skill to weave together complex narratives about youth, racism, and poverty. The title of the album itself is a play on the concept of Minneapolis’s “Lurk Ordinance,” which states that, “No person, in any public or private place, shall lurk, lie in wait or be concealed with intent to commit any crime or unlawful act,” but has often been used to by police to harass racial minorities and the homeless. “Twud” is an introspective first-hand account of being arbitrarily pulled over by the police. “Rip Van Winkle” waxes brilliantly on the album’s central conflict: How can a person live happily and meaningfully in the face of the constant struggle to simply survive in America?
The production on this album is no less staggering than its lyrical content. Much like on his previous album Cornbread, Pearl, & G, the beats are a perfect synthesis between the hazy cloud-rap style of the moment and the urban grit of classic East Coast boom-bap. Production wise, the highlight of the record is undoubtedly “Work Song,” which flips a vintage soul sample to evoke a perfect, haunting sense of loneliness.
Clocking in at just under an hour, Born to Lurk, Forced to Work is a dense piece of art. But when the skittering beat on the album’s last song fades out, it becomes clear that Greg Grease has created a stunning testament to the enduring political importance of hip-hop, without ever leaving the booth to holler from a soapbox. by Sam Segal
Greg Grease -"Work Song"-mp3