On his Rhymesayers debut, rapper Grieves sounds a bit too much like his labelmates Atmosphere to cause concern among those who label this rap “emo” instead of the preferred “independent.” The cool, opening memoir called “Light Speed” will feel familiar to the Atmosphere faithful with nostalgia for “Pogs and punk rock” and that defiant “if you need me, I’ll be in my hoody” attitude. This obvious influence is found throughout, always threatening to turn Together/Apart into a niche album, but then, unique numbers like the crypt-walking “On the Rocks” come along and Grieves becomes an inspired artist with his hands on the wheel, steering indie-hop down new avenues. Clever how a quote from Bobby Hebb’s effervescent “Sunny” shows up in the tortured (“I’ve been writin’ on the mirror with a razorblade/And chase away the devil in my brain that played me like a spade”) “Sunny Side of Hell,” and you can thank producer Budo for all the sample-free backing tracks, which also recall those Atmosphere guys, but a freer version willing to experiment with space rock (“Boogie Man”) and infectious G-funk (“No Matter What”). An easy recommendation for its obvious audience, but Together/Apart is a bit more than that as well, giving the genre of indie hip-hop some mass appeal whenever it decides to wild out.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Track Listing - Disc 1