Positive. That’s right, positive. I’ll start and end with just that, positive. I’m positive you have heard GRITS before, whether or not you recognize the name, but true hip-hop heads will automatically know the name. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee and bringing their own flavor of hip hop to the board every time they touch a studio or microphone, their voices are easily recognizable in an ever-growing genre tainted with fly-by-night artists. Bonafide and Coffee form GRITS, creating a creative powerhouse that brought songs you have doubtlessly heard, such as “Ima Showem” that made an appearance on hit TV Show Boston Public, and you have more than likely heard other strong hits “Time Is Passing” or “They All Fall Down”. If you don’t recognize the title, then just download the tracks and you’ll instantly recognize them, then go buy the CD, because burning CDs is thievery.
Their latest CD “The Art of Translation” leaves with many more positives, but I’m getting ahead of myself already. The translating opens up with no intro, we dive head-first into “Here We Go”, thick with a latin vibe evenly mixed with some nice kicks. Great lively chorus, the style is on point and you have no choice but to bob your head. Rolling right into “Ooh Ahh” which features Tobymac, and already feeling the laid back beat which is ridden perfectly by a chorus that builds from the start to show the intricacy of the hook. Tobymac does okay, but is outshined by the heroes of our album, brilliant track covering the woes of life. A very relatable track that majestically dazzles, a must-hear.
Next, we’re “Runnin'” with a beautiful chorus sung by great female vocalists V3, which consists of Latoya, Sasha, and Shelly Vinson. We see more relatable topics covered here, and this is overall a beautiful song with a memorable hook. Bouncing right into “Tennessee Bwoys”, not feeling the hook too much, the dirty south induced chorus feels a little forced but it is a great style to bounce to, which is easily assumed to be the primary purpose. The beat is decent, and the hook is in your face. We slow it down a tad with “Be Mine” and jump right out with a very smooth hook which does what it’s intended to do, hook you. Careful listening reveals a positive message rare in the rap game today, which is faithfulness in a relationship leading to marriage. Snaps off for braving the topic and doing it in full quality. “Ill Coined Phrase” is an out of place interlude which sounds good, just out of place.
“Seriously” adds on a thick mix of guitars giving the rock ‘n roll spice, but the mix doesn’t seem to work well. The chorus feels a little off, the attempt at something new is applauded but it ultimately fails. “At The Video Shoot” interlude is entertaining, and gives the sense that you’re eavesdropping on some girls at the scene of a video shoot as it rolls into the next track “Video Girl” featuring one of my more favorite artists, Knowdaverbs. We start off with the hook which makes a valiant attempt at a catchy hook but is a little forced, and will eventually have you humming it to yourself, whether you like it or not doesn’t matter. Verbs kicks off the first verse and knocks it down without question and everyone seems to hold their own here. Once again, props are given on handing out a positive (there’s that word again) message trying to give value back to women.
The next track flows ridiculously tight with Jennifer Knapp on “Believe”, another magnificent chorus, delivered this time from GRITS’ fellow Gotee artist. We travel through some deep meditation on where our lives are and what we base our lives on. An A+ is given here for a terrific track, well balanced between a perfect tone set by the beat, the chorus and the thought invoking rhymes. Another must-hear followed closely by the interlude “What Do You Believe?”. A nice follow-up indeed, laid back beat filled out with organs, piano rifts, and nusoul vocals.
Next we’re supposed to “Get It”, an upbeat song with a rather repetitive chorus, an all around okay track. A definite banger of a follow-up hits us on “Make Room”, sweet beat with that good ol’ southern bounce. Brings some fire here lyrically and the chorus hits the spot filling out the instrumental to a “T”. If you like hot beats mixed with style and lyrics, check this song out. In tune with the interludes we have “Keep Movin'”, very soul-filled with a beat that sounds straight from a relaxed Timbaland studio, great addition here though it’s short.
Never to get dark, light is shed with “Sunny Days”. The beat gives its effect of an upbeat song yet manages to stay away from the spotlight. Rarely slipping on the chorus we’ve got another hook that meets expectations with Nirva Dorsaint spilling her intoxicating vocals throughout the track. Here hearts are lifted to give reflection and thanks to their maker. Like a fairy tale ending, we polish off the disc with the last song “Lovechild” accompanied by Antonio Phelon singing melodically, he’s sure to have you singing this as soon (if not before) the song is through. Not only is there a great beat and flowing melody, but the words will probably hit a piece of your heart. Yet another must-listen. Ending our escapade through the creative direction of our Nashville heroes is the last interlude and track “The Art of Translation”, a hypnotizing melody with some beautiful words even though I have no idea what is said, and be sure to keep listening to catch the hidden ending, because it gets better.
Do I really need to say what I think of the CD as a whole? Is that actually necessary? Have you been paying attention? I hope so, because history is in the making and I expect this CD to have a lot of influence on a lot of people, both musical and non. An astounding album with innovation & creativity deluxe. I cannot think of a better way to drop a $20 when it comes to music. A superb blend of guest appearances without ever detracting from the main event and never emitting the feeling that there’s too many guests. Do you like lyrics? Just listen. Do you like a great beat? Well, do you prefer latin, dirty south, unidentifiably unique or other? Just listen. How about a positive output that will leave you with a deposit rather than taking away any joy you already had? I’m fully convinced that we have a certified jam session that will meet all occasions and emotions.
Massive points given for style, music choice, great choruses, lyrical content, and ingenuity. Points detracted from the few choruses that didn’t meet the quota. 4.5 stars out of 5. Am I sure? Heh, I’m positive.
01 HERE WE GO
02 OOH AHH FEAT. TOBYMAC
03 RUNNIN FEAT. V3
04 TENNESSEE BWOYS
05 BE MINE FEAT. NIRVA DORSAINT
06 ILL COINED PHRASE (INTERLUDE)
08 AT THE VIDEO SHOOT (INTERLUDE)
09 VIDEO GIRL FEAT. KNOWDAVERBS
10 BELIEVE FEAT. JENNIFER KNAPP
11 WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? (INTERLUDE)
12 GET IT
13 MAKE ROOM
14 KEEP MOVIN’ (INTERLUDE)
15 SUNNY DAYS FEAT. NIRVA DORSAINT
16 LOVECHILD FEAT. ANTONIO PHELON
17 THE ART OF TRANSLATION (INTERLUDE)
4.5 out of 5