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22 October, 2003@12:00 am

   Many props are due to producer Daddy Kev for getting Grouch to flow spoken word style, sing and rap all on the same project! As a member of the D.I.Y. kings of hip-hop, the Living Legends, the Grouch has consistently dropped honest, bare bones music. Crossing paths with Daddy Kev and DJ D-Styles on the short-runner Sound Advice, however, The Grouch has walked through previously uncharted territory.

    Anyone who’s heard a Daddy Kev joint knows that this beat-maker doesn’t follow the same recipe for production each time around like some do–every one of his beats is tailor-made. That said, it’s surprising to hear The Grouch step to the mic on tracks that often sound like he’s at an open-mic night with experimental jazz artists backing him up. But as The Grouch says on “Square One”, “What we gonna give ‘em? Something they ain’t used to…”. You know?

    The bizarre “Dollars For Not” is the perfect case in point. As Daddy Kev produces an assembly of wild horns, pianos and drums going buckwild, The Grouch unleashes his thoughts on the almighty dollar, spoken word style. But despite the unorthodox approach, lyrically, it’s still the Grouch. You still get the simple yet well though out rhymes that Grouch fans are accustomed to. Other off-kilter offerings include “All Gotta Live” and “I Got Class” in which this Living Legend croons away.

    In contrast the simple but infectious “Opening Spit” sounds like something The Grouch would flow over any day. So does “Visibly Vocal”, where he says “My name don’t fit me/kinda like a tight glove”. The Grouch actually spends a lot time proving that he’s a happier person, saying that these days he wears less of a frown. “Sound Advice” oozes uplifting hymns that are likely to leave a smile on your face. As The Grouch says prior to “Climax Cleverly”, “Don’t ever underestimate the power of your voice/Makes you feel good right? Strong/Freedom of expression is beautiful”.

    There is one missing link to this album though: as this project is being sold as a Grouch, Daddy Kev and D-Styles collaboration, the talent of Beat Junkies’ D-Styles is left largely unused. While the few scratches on this album are on-point and well placed, D-Styles’ name shouldn’t have been on the front of this album if he wasn’t going to be given more opportunities to shine. Allowing DJs to really do their thing on hip-hop records has become a rarity and this project doesn’t help the cause.

    When it comes to The Grouch and Daddy Kev, though, this is an unexpected collaboration that lets both parties involved take risks and reap the reward. This is Sound Advice you could use.

  Mixtape D.L.
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