Pacific Northwest MC Grynch went mini-viral in 2009 with a song and accompanying music video about his Volvo 240 DL titled, appropriately, “My Volvo.” It was a relatable hip-hop tribute to his bucket ride, a bittersweet sentiment that anyone with a past or current love/hate relationship to an unreliable and un-sexy automobile could easily share in. The track was huge in the rapper’s native Seattle (a hyper-local hit, for sure) and big enough nationally to garner a nice interview feature in Billboard and nearly 600,000 views on YouTube to date.
However, there are dangers in a rap song going viral. The city of Seattle knows especially well (“Baby Got Back”, anyone?) of the tenuous ground on which a hip-hop artist treads when the song grows to be larger than the MC himself. Unlike Sir Mix-A-Lot, however, Grynch is too talented an artist with music too sanguine, to fall victim to the dreaded mini rap Zeitgeist. On his latest LP, Perspective, you can’t help but be taken by the rapper’s sunny demeanor that has impressively endured a successful underground rap career spanning seven albums.
Perspective is Grynch’s third full-length record and easily his best. His in-the-pocket flow isn’t fancy or exotic, but he’s always clean and technically precise on the beat. Super-producer Jake One provides four good ones here, each marked by hefty boom-bap drums and buoyant sample flips. The rap career reflective “So Far” features a nice cameo by Brother Ali and the bluesy “Too High” condenses the MC’s take on potent weed, addictive women, and overly-assured rappers into three well-observed verses. Grynch generally makes good-guy rap and finds easy contentment in simple pleasures like a warm Seattle day or his favorite sandwich (“Mister Rogers”) but he’s also contemplative and serious with his on “Drowning” (produced by Budo) which considers the repercussions of a burgeoning alcohol problem, and “No Sunshine” where he contends with family matters and the death of a friend.
The major critical knock on Grynch has been that he spends too much time “rapping about rapping.” I’ve proffered the accusation several times and when I did, it was true. Perspective turns that critique on its head, however, a welcome change for an MC that rhymes about what he knows and does so with an unabashedly positive vibe. Perspective might not always be the sexiest music in your headphones, but it’s consistent and gets the job done right. Sounds a lot like the car I was talking about earlier.