Greg Grease – (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – Hip-Hop
“My pockets on empty. My mind filled with dreams.”
Widely considered by a large amount of hip-hop fans to be one of the most underrated hip-hop Cities and scenes in the Country, Minneapolis, Minnesota steadily churns out some of the most skilled MC’s and producers that the genre has to offer. Twenty-six year old rapper, Greg Grease, who was born and raised on the South side of Minneapolis, is doing more than his fair share of holding down that notion. Recently named City Pages’ (a prominent News outlet in MN) 2013 Best Hip-Hop Artist in the Twin Cities, Greg Grease is a lyricist on a mission to divulge a story of the culture and lifestyle that he comes from and has seen with his own eyes.
While raised in Minneapolis, Greg also spent quality years of his adolescence in Atlanta and North Carolina (before returning to MN for good) in a household with parents who, regardless of surroundings, did their part in supplying him with ample opportunity to gain knowledge at a young age. Along with bringing him to gospel and church concerts, his mother who was an English teacher, encouraged him to be independent and always stay reading some form of literature that would exercise the mind. While his father, who was a true music enthusiast and more specifically a connoisseur of the urban genre, constantly had music on and would replay songs three or four times for Greg before then dissecting the different instruments and sounds with his son. Greg touches on his Dad’s influence on him in the track, I Still Love H.E.R., where he conveys, “I remember I was a youngster, Pops bumpin’ Busta with Dilla, The Tribe and The Village from the Slums really was the jam.” While there were countless other artists he was introduced to, I’m fairly certain that just solely having Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest and Slum Village in the childhood rotation, would inevitably instill in any teenager an appreciation for the art of hip-hop, even if not fully acknowledged until a maturity level where it could properly be understood.
As Greg now focuses mainly on his lyricism and production, he didn’t always take being on the microphone all too serious. He had spent previous years playing drums in local funk and soul bands, and in an attempt to fulfill his desire to be on stage, would be a hype man for other acts from the same area. He regularly had his hands in music and video production though, and was writing rhymes behind closed doors, but until a few years ago when his good friend and fellow emcee (of The Usual Suspects), Abdulle Elmi (who was later tragically murdered) encouraged him to put his words out there for the masses, he finally decided to start gracing microphones. With previous experience in so many facets of music, years of production under his belt and relentlessly working on his lyrical technique, he has approached a stage in his career where all aspects of his musical dexterity have combined to create a potent final product.
The words raw and gritty aren’t typically used in the same breath as polished and smooth, but in explaining the style of hip-hop that Greg manufactures, these phrases are all relevant within the same sphere. His lyrical style is pleasantly unprocessed, and he does such a laudable job of using his lyrics to paint a picture of the culture he witnessed growing up, and to some degree, a culture that we all live in. Throughout his catalog he does plenty assessing of the dispiriting subjects such as poverty, street life, gangs, death, corrupt police and prison systems, racism, constant stress from work and bills and the unhealthy quest of material possessions. But while he touches on the darker sides of everyday life throughout his catalog, he always comes back to the idea that all of the negative things we endure on a daily basis are miniscule in comparison to the blessings that surround us. This is best exemplified on the track, Conflict Of Consequences, where he delivers “Death is inevitable. Life is incredible. So I keep my elements dope. Family and friends, now my head is afloat.”
The majority of Greg’s tracks do have a significant meaning to them, but there is also a handful where he simply allows his lyrical prowess to take the lead while attacking a collection of soulful beats with a seemingly effortless, laid-back flow that would perfectly accompany your headphones in a relaxed head-nodding session. Greg explains his style best by saying, “I just want to show multiple energies. I don’t want people to think I’m just serious. I’m multi-dimensional. I’m also not like a lot of things. My music is for people who like to use their minds.” I can confidently co-sign on the premise that he is not like a lot of things in the hip-hop world. In the near twenty years of listening to the genre, I have a tough time comparing him to any individual artist, which I can only assume is an ideal compliment to a musician. In a day in age where glamorized hip-hop is being force fed to consumers, it is refreshing to come across an artist who takes pride in providing the opposite of plastic rap. With a successful communion of impeccable production and thought-provoking lyrics, Greg Grease’s empty pockets are on the proper route to becoming as full as his dreams.
Greg Currently has three albums out, The Giving Tree (2011), Cornbread, Pearl & G (2012), and his most recent release Black King Cole (2013), which are all available on his Soundcloud page HERE. Follow him on Twitter HERE and catch him on Facebook HERE. Below are some music videos from his above albums.
C.R.E.A.M. Dreams (Cornbread, Pearl & G)
You’re Welcome (The Giving Tree)
Leave It Or Love It (The Giving Tree)
Continuum (Black King Cole)
discussion by Sidelines