Forever props to I’m Very Ape in Canada for this review of the new mix. Check him out at ImVeryApe.com.
IT’S ALWAYS GRIZZLY IN PHILADELPHIA
E. GRIZZLY – INVERSIONS OF COLOSSUS (FEAT. PEAN THE HUSTLA)/WATER WHEEL
For Fans of: Brother Ali, MF Doom, Shad, El-P,
In North Philadelphia, born and raised, in the studio is where he spends most of his days. E. Grizzly, aka Erik, aka New Milly, has created five complete mix tapes since 2010, and he shows no signs of slowing down. After last year’s punk inspired The Nah Mixtape (produced by 1994! drummer Mike Kuhn, and containing the brilliant Shark Hunter Quint), Grizzly switches gears and pays homage to fellow Philadelphian, and famed hip hop DJ Ramble John Krohn. Generation 01000001 (0100001 being binary code for ‘A’), released less than a year after Nah, sees Grizzly throwing down his gruff rhymes over some of Krohn’s (aka RJD2) best instrumentals (including Mad Men intro song A Beautiful Mine). The high energy rapping and earnest rhymes blend seamlessly with RJD2′s eclectic beats, and the mix tape proves to be a match made in Philly heaven.
Standouts include Grizzly’s new vision of Krohn’s The Perfect Occasion. Entitled Inversions of Colossus (after the album that The Perfect Occasion is found on), Grizzly turns the muscular horns and Daft Punk-esque electric guitar into a meditation on leaving the mean streets before they corrupt you. Not in an “abandon your roots” sense, since Grizzly himself is well known for giving back to North Philadelphia through clean-up projects, but in the sense of trying to break the cycle of poverty and crime. The song is smartly introduced through an audio clip of a manic narrator describing how New York is in fact a prison in which the citizens built themselves, suggesting that the ills of society are merely a creation of the people within them. Grizzly encourages the listener to break free of these prisons by opening their mind, thereby further inferring the “ghetto” is a state of mind that can be escaped if the views of the people change. It is actually quite a forward thinking statement, and a refreshingly positive message in a genre often plagued by cynicism.
The following track is another highlight on Generation ‘A’. Water Wheel is a reworking of The Water Wheel, a song released by Kohn under the moniker The Insane Warrior. Water Wheel‘s instrumentation is far more fun than the overpowering Colossus, with it’s bouncing organ and mid-song switch-up, and creates a canvas for more uplifting lyrics. Sounding like Brother Ali with a smoker’s rasp, Grizzly uses the trivial topic of cruising to represent holding your head up high and continuing to move forward in life. It impresses with its ability to both lift spirits, and thanks to a funk root, shake hips.
So another success for North Philly’s E. Grizzly. An impressive run, no doubt. Let’s look forward to a sixth.