The Grouch

Crusader for Justice

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For his seventh solo album, the Grouch goes for a minimalist approach that puts all the emphasis on his rhymes. The beats are skeletal and strictly electronic, built up from layers of old-school '80s-style beat boxes and synth lines that leave plenty of sonic space to be filled by the Grouch's straightforward lyrical delivery. This approach is most effective on tracks like "Dragonfly" and "Moves That Make Me," personal declarations of the transformative power of love that gain added depth from the D.I.Y. sound. Angrier tracks like the dismissive "Clean Nikes" and the statement of purpose "No Slow Thinkers" might arguably be more powerful if they were set to stronger musical arrangements; "Clean Nikes" in particular never really catches fire due to the way that the sleepy, almost ambient dub sound of the synths clashes with the Grouch's spitting delivery. Taken as a whole, the samey musical quality of the album can cause enthusiasm to flag after a few tracks, but in terms of lyrics and vocal performance, the Grouch is at the top of his game throughout Crusader for Justice, and in this form of hip-hop, words trump music every single time.

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