One of the weirdest things to happen during the alternative era is that period of time when British rock bands started incorporating sampling into their music (and occasionally rap). The more of this music I stumble upon, the more I want to read a book about the whole scene because it’s kind of weird, right? I mean, these British kids were not the audience rappers were looking for. I guess it’s somewhat like the Blues decades earlier. Anyway…
So I was super excited to listen to this band because of their name, as it’s a great name. But of course I wasn’t expecting Grebo because I didn’t know what Grebo is. In fact, my only reference point for this record (aside from its influences) is Disco Inferno, who are very much not at all remotely like this band, though they were inspired by similar music.
Imagine rock rap with way, way, way more samples, some turntables and fewer guitars and much more of a hip hop attitude towards sound and production, and you get some vague idea as to what this record sounds like. (Oh and theyr’e British.) It’s a bonkers combination that is a lot braver, to my mind, than the kind of rap rock which is just rapping over hard rock music, though it’s also less consistent. (Shocking, I know.)
With a record like this, which is so relatively radical, it’s hard to really judge the songwriting but there actually a couple tracks that are pretty catchy though because the record is so long they are a little hard to find.
The real draw is the production, which is just bonkers. Very, very indebted to The Bomb Squad, there is an absolute ton of stuff going on in most songs, so much so that it’s kind of amazing they have created music that actually sounds close ish to what an idealized fusion of hip hop and rock music might have sounded like in the late 1980s. Compared to just about every other rock band influenced by hip hop (especially the Nu Metal bands), these guys actually treat sound similarly to a hop hop producer.
But the record is too long and not everything works as well as the best tracks. And despite my intellectual resect for what they’re doing, it does sometimes feel as though it’s an idea that works better on paper than in execution. Perhaps there’s a reason this genre didn’t take off.