Cornbread, Pearl & G
River Life Media/Black Corners
Greg Grease is not a backpack rapper, however Greg Grease makes backpacks. Backpacks, that is, and other dry goods, as part of his River Life Dry Goods brand (http://riverlife.tumblr.com). This would be the first of many lovely things I discovered about Grease while diving into Cornbread, Pearl & G, a worthwhile swim to close out the last month of 2012.
Grease’s stumble into lyricism followed a Bukowskian path; much like the man who injected filth into his prose to get the attention of magazine publishers, Grease focused on filth to perfect his flow, before gaining the confidence to publicly step beyond producer to MC.
Cornbread, Pearl & G opens well with “Pressure,” a deep, patient number describing the modern human condition. As much of the album will continue to do, “Pressure” reflects on the price of our material loves, the way they bind us and the tough choices and lifestyles that result (“Bad can get worse; then what you gonna do?”).
Switching gears, Cornbread, Pearl & G winds down to “C.R.E.A.M. Dreams.” Though the tempo and tone change, with melodic wind instrument introductions, the theme remains the same. Lines like, “So stressed out, not feeling blessed now,” Grease hammers home again the point that the trappings of life trap us in worry. Mo’ money, mo’ problems, as the adage goes.
The dead bass of “Death Ballad” is a well placed throwback, as well as a nice accompaniment to a subtle snare. “I Still Love H.E.R.” (feat. Lizzo), morphs the flow into a numbing beat, before Lizzo’s shrill trills take us into a trance like bridge.
“Summer Saturdays” layers clean yet complex percussion over a retro horn loop, while Grease raps rather somberly over top. “Cliches” (feat. Proper-T)” lifts the mood a bit, and the interplay between the two artists creates a fun and frenzied pace.
“Flute Beat” is exactly as it sounds; a dreamy intro expanding into a steady cadence that explores progress and equality. “Conflict of Consequence” keeps it serious, and things continue that way until “Warm-ups” (feat. DJ Just Nine) sees a more boastful exploration stylistically.
Providing a suitably strong ending for a serious album, “City Life” (feat. Ak Rite & IBE(TUSS))” combines the frenetic layers of beats we’ve heard in bits and pieces throughout with a ferocious close to the lyrical mastery woven inside. One can only conclude from Cornbread, Pearl & G that Greg Grease is tired, or that he expects to be tired soon or that he knows some folks that are tired. It is refreshing to see an album that neither glamorizes nor demonizes this lifestyle and instead simply recognizes that nothing is without its cost. Whatever the cost, do check out Cornbread, Pearl & G; it’s worth it.