Thursday, 24 October 2013 11:05

Grieves Takes a Retro Approach to Hip-Hop

Written by  Carly Plank
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Grieves Grieves COURTESY PHOTO

Grieves wsg Rick Chyme and PHILTHY
The Stache @ The Intersection, Grand Rapids
Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.
$13 advance/$15 doors
All ages, (616)-451-8232

If you want to break out, you have to hustle, at least according to hip-hop artist Grieves.

Before signing with independent hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment in 2010, Grieves (real name Benjamin Laub) was simultaneously writing new music, playing gigs and trying to get his material heard by as many people as possible.

"I was on MySpace, hustling, taking every chance I could get, and I crossed paths [with the label]. They encourage new ideas, which keeps me moving in a good direction," said Grieves, who released his LP Together/Apart in 2011.

With retro flavors enhanced by unembellished piano melodies, staccato guitar riffs and trumpet passages, Grieves is undeniably West Coast hip-hop, but with retro influences mixed in.

"I'm not going to be cliché and say that I don't listen to the radio, but I don't listen to a lot of modern music. I listen to '70s Motown, R. Kelly, and R&B," Grieves said. "Hip-hop just ended up being a platform for all of the things I was kind of good at."

When it comes to writing songs, Grieves' formula is constantly shifting, as he takes an in-the-moment approach.

"I try a new concept every couple of months," he said. "One thing that's stayed the same is that melody is the biggest influence for me. Mood and tempo can define a project. I'll hear a kick drum sound or some spooky chords I like and I'll start to build around that."

Although Grieves has been relatively silent on the national hip-hop scene since the release of Together/Apart, he has been taking voice lessons and is working on a new album.

"The record is half mixed, and I'll be sending in mixing notes from the road, and then working with art concepts and solidifying the album name," Grieves said.

When the Back on My Grizzly tour comes to The Intersection, the performance will be an intimate experience, unlike your typical hip-hop show.

"I'm not a rapper on stage with my homies asking the audience to reassure him that he's the s**t," said Grieves. "No, it's a one-on-one experience as friends."

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