Review Summary: Hybrids are great for a lot of things - does the theory hold for rap?
It's a weird world we live in these days - one where emo kids suddenly want to make rap records. I guess it's a testament to the "in" thing, which is musical diversity and hosting a wide range of musical taste and talent. That being said, it doesn't necessarily mean that these things translate musically or fit together as good as record execs seem to want them to. Grieves' debut album "88 Keys and Counting" is essentially the peninsula of South Africa, and Emo and Hip Hop are the Indian and Atlantic oceans slamming together.
The result is a record that feels a little overreaching, but one that isn't really all that bad either. The lyrics and piano lead beats are pretty repetitive, but Grieves has a flow that is pretty convincing and more than makes up for the shortcomings found throughout the rest of the album. October In The Graveyard is one of the standout tracks, and its the only one like it on the entire album - I definitely feel like Grieves should have focused on that darker and edgier atmosphere a little more.
Beyond October In The Graveyard, Gwenevieve is my absolute favorite song - and probably the saving grace of a 3 rating rather than a 2.5 - and should be a song that you grab regardless if you listen to the rest of the album. The song carries a heavy amount of emotion, a very solid beat and a nice guitar riff put down by Budo layered with Grieves best flow on the record. There are definitely several enjoyable pieces to 88 Keys, but overall it's difficult to imagine this gaining a lot of steam on its own (which explains why Grieves is on the national Warped Tour). I recommend checking it out if you're in hip hop but not really big on the gangster or mainstream rap side of things. Otherwise, you'll probably be looking at a disappointment in the grand scheme of things.
It's clear that Grieves definitely has musical talent, and as a rapper he is one of the better "blended" artists out there today. I think 88 Keys serves to show that two decidedly different influences for musical content can come together and fit halfway decently. I just don't buy into this new hybrid type of hip hop entirely yet, and Grieves doesn't do much to convince me that I should be seeking out more artists like him.