Certified Outfit are Church (rapper, producer) and Swindle (rapper), two Spokane natives who are currently based in Seattle. Their new EP, True Grit, is the latest in a long line of releases from the duo that rarely see shine on the local blogs. Certified have a relatively light digital footprint which means once removed outlets like 206UP (our editor-in-chief is New York-based, as you may know) must rely on trustworthy word-of-mouth conduits like underground media connect — and friend of the blog — Shao Sosa, who hipped us to the group.
True Grit is a testament to the craft of street rap, an indicator that a nuanced approach and very specific framework is always necessary to producing a worthy entry to the revered (and much maligned) sub-genre. This belies the nature of the music — at least on a superficial level — which is generally aggressive and willfully violent. Where True Grit succeeds — and I’m sure how Certified Outfit would emphatically describe themselves — is in its bullish, naked honesty. Here, veracity is not only a principle under which Certified operates, it’s a necessity.
The eight tracks on True Grit are hulking street anthems. Each moves at a deliberate pace with heavy keys, perfectly interpolated sample loops, and raps that claim painful histories while simultaneously seeking the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. There’s also a melancholic soulfulness to many of these tracks which adds additional dimension and just the right amount of levity; Church and Swindle represent themselves as hardened street soldiers but you never get the sense they’re broken souls.
Stream True Grit below and watch the video for “So Real” below that.