If you can’t find any rap to fuck with in 2012, then you’re a fucking moron. Period. There’s so much to choose from that it borders on ridiculous. Who would have thunk that you’d hear a non-Roots affiliated rapper outta Philly without some weird/unique vocal affection or excessively turnt up delivery? It’s almost as if Philadelphians chose to react to their relative lack of acclaim (despite the scores of talented rappers they possess) by yelling until someone gave them a shot. Beans, Cassidy, Freeway and now Meek Mill have all carried the torch, but I think it’s safe to say that Philly has never really gotten its just due. Maybe the rest of us don’t like loud ass rap niggas as much as we pretend to. Or maybe Philadelphia is just an annoying place.
So I suppose it makes sense that a more subdued and cerebral approach to Philly/Street rap was bound to eventually emerge. GrandeMarshall seems to be that guy. This 800 tape is remarkably assured for an 18-year old (or anyone else for the matter). The music is polished and the aesthetic is so fully realized that it makes me suspicious. From technique and content standpoints, there’s a ton of maturity and poise on display – so much so that it left me wondering exactly who this kid is. I refuse to believe that GrandeMarshall has lived this much already (all these tales about fast women with lots of cash make a nigga like me uneasy. And just a bit jealous…), but I’ll let him live because it sounds dope. For the most part.
In general, a fully realized aesthetic and consistent vibe is a good thing, but sometimes these qualities can become a weakness. Most of 800 unfurls slowly at a subdued and stoned pace, and just when Grande shows us that he might be capable of different, more familiar tricks (the NP Shidd, Jeezy Interlude & GODBPM stretch), he slips right back into his comfort zone. You just kinda zone out at points and some pretty decent songs begin to get relegated to mere background music. I guess you could call this shit a bit of a “grower.” Pause.
Ultimately, that’s a minor gripe – more rappers should find a comfort zone and the resulting identity that comes with one. GrandeMarshall sketches his portraits of fast broads and street life with vivid detail, has decent enough hooks on deck and knows exactly what he wants to sound like. Now if he can just replace his drank (or whatever the fuck it is that makes him favor hazy sounding shit so much) with some 5-hour energy more often, he might actually go places that 2012 Sigel can’t.