Party rap fire starters Gran Rapids are preparing to release Midnight Society, the follow-up to the duo’s 2012 self-titled LP. “Holler” finds Jay Battle and Leach urging friends and strangers alike to turn up on the Seattle streets. We can dig it.
Jay Battle and Leach are preparing to release their sophomore album. In advance of that, enjoy a new track from the Gran Rapids crew every week. “Limb by Limb (Remix)” features bouncy electronic kinetics and fast-rap similar to what was found on GR’s last LP, Saturday Mourning.
Emcee Leach and emcee/producer Jay Battle are the duo who comprise Gran Rapids, a group whose debut album, Saturday Mourning, is a lengthy, party-rocking affair with a sound that trends toward the electronic end of the hip-hop spectrum. It’s startlingly confident and self-assured which, in the increasingly over-saturated local hip-hop market, is a necessity for a new group who wants to get noticed and have any hope of emerging unscathed from a crowded scene that’s a little like a downtown Metro bus during rush hour.
A national hip-hop critic wrote recently that, when in doubt, rappers wanting to expand their reach beyond backpackers and their over-sized headphones should just make a dance record; ie. a disco album with rap. Gran Rapids doesn’t paint itself into that small of a corner, but it rolls with the general idea. Party rap will get you noticed (especially around Town these days, with shows popping off every weekend), and that’s the direction GP takes Saturday Mourning.
There’s a lot of sh*t-talk set to uptempo beats, perfect for jumping up and down at the club in rapid succession (“The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”, “Rewsta” and “Wheredayat, Theredaygo!”, among others). Sometimes too much hip-hop with such subject matter makes the listener feel like he’s getting bludgeoned over the head with a broken MPC. That’s not the case with Gran Rapids. They bring just enough creativity to the table to make it enjoyable. Still, the album’s sprawling length dilutes the overall quality just a bit.
Leach and Jay Battle show the most promise for a sustained career in hip-hop on two tracks. “Make Us” is a determined head-nodder where both rappers display legitimate mic control skills and an understanding of the hip-hop fundamentals. And “Robot Fans” is an entertaining lampoon of those How Can I Be Down-type fans who want a piece of the music celebrity action (no matter how big or small). It’s still unclear whether Gran Rapids is fit or hungry enough to make it out of Seattle’s hip-hop kitchen as celebrities of the bigger variety. With the pot bubbling over, and every rapper jostling for position at the top, it’s hard to predict what will happen. Saturday Mourning, though, is a good enough indicator of a group worthy of keeping your eyes on.