I caught Grieves at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma, CA. I laughed on the way when we passed the Birkenstock sandals headquarters. That ain’t gangsta. When we got to the show and my wife said, “It smells like manure,” I laughed again; hell of a setting for a night of rap music. On the car ride up we’d been listening to Kendrick and YG spin tales about Compton, or “Bompton” if you will. I was a little sad to see that no one in Petaluma was “bickin’ back bein bool.” And yet, when Grieves took the stage I was transported to another world. One where hip-hop and culture are a nation without borders and there is the promise of transcendent unity in booty shaking. All it took was flow, and heart and Grieves had them in abundance. —Eben Sterling
What is the power of hip-hop? What drew you to the culture and music?
To me, hip-hop as an art form has no boundaries. I was always drawn to that. Musically, it felt like a collage of all the music I grew up on, except for the brief phase where I didn’t wear pants and only listened to hardcore German techno. I was always into music but had a problem sticking with one style. Hip-hop allowed me to put it all in one place and tell my story the way I wanna tell it. Shit saved my life.
Why do you have a skateboard on the cover of your new album, Running Wild? Did you ride that board or did you get a set designer to thrash it up for you?
The board, as well as the other images on the record, symbolizes the journey of this record and my career. As far as wearing that bitch out— I don’t have money to pay somebody to fuck shit up for me. Where I come from, you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. That piece of shit was the size of a ironing board and weighed, like, twenty pounds. Took some effort, but eventually she broke. I think it would be tight if you could put a picture of me here as a sexy-ass matador or some shit.
I saw Kyle Mooney from SNL in your video. Is he the homie?
Yeah, that’s the homie! I actually met him on the set of that video and we kept in touch over the years. I’m really proud of that guy’s success.
What does keepin’ it real mean and why does it matter?
You know, like—when you’re at a Thai joint and you order the four-star spice level and they look at you, like, “Dude, you’re too white for that shit. You should get the two,” but you get it anyways? It’s kinda like that.
Who are those guys on stage with you and what are they doing up there?
Those guys? That’s the goon squad! I try to bring the studio to stage when we perform and these guys help me accomplish that vision. Jonathan, our guitar player, handles most of the digital stuff as well as bass guitar, drum pad and auxiliary percussion. On the other side we got Pants. Pants plays the keys, synth. and steezy dance moves. Between the three of us, we’re able do what a six-piece band could do. It’s a lot of work and prep, but it’s worth it.
Why did you go to Sweden to produce your last album?
I’ve always wanted to work with Chords; we just never had the time. I thought when I brought the idea up that my manager and label were gonna tell me to go fuck myself and make the record at home—but they didn’t. It was a rad experience. All I did was make music and look at sexy-ass Swedish people.
How have things changed over the past ten years since you started performing as a hip-hop artist?
Hip-hop has grown, its audience has grown, the artists have grown and the scene has gotten closer. It’s nice to see these younger kids out at the shows that don’t define themselves by one sub genre or artists. Cats can go from my concert to a Ying Yang Twins concert and it’s all love. I like that shit.
Your merch at the show was super legit. Are you trying to take out Thrasher in the street-wear game?
I’ve always been inspired by the street-wear scene when it comes down to designing and curating our merch. I don’t want people to look at it like a band shirt, but more like a lifestyle. I’ll fall back, though, unless I catch you in the rap game—then it’s gloves off!
Got any words for the Thrasher readers?
Yeah, stop sending nudes to my LinkedIn page.
8/05/2020Not many musical acts bridge the gap between hip-hop's "Golden Era" and those who seek fresh new sounds. Run The Jewels stands tall over this divide. Killer Mike and El-P already each had a rich legacy and their combined forces have produced something unique.
8/05/2020The Shrine’s raw new music vid pushes back on the American Dream in LA and helps give funds to protestors for legal aid. Bump this on your next bowl session.
8/05/2020Hacksaw's music is not here for your enjoyment. It exists to pummel you into submission. We caught up with these heavy noise makers, but we were particularly curious about guitarist/skater Mike Hell's perspective and ethics of eating garbage straight from the can.
8/05/2020Musical act Cobra Man was conceived from the fire of skate videos but it has now grown into its own groovy, dance-music monster. The band's DNA is shared with the skate pscyhos over at Worble and their tunes are hot and heavy throughout the new vid Party Destroyer.
8/05/2020Blending genres of different musical eras, Sophie Allison AKA "Soccer Mommy" has crafted her own unique sound. She's a true songwriter and Atiba Jefferson had the honor of directing her latest video which, of course, involves skating.
8/05/2020Selling 85 million albums worldwide is quite an accomplishment. But Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has another epic legacy. He has been pivotal in getting skateparks built in underserved rural areas including many Native American reservations. Here he talks about his roots in music and skating.
8/05/2020If you’re near the Netherlands this month, make sure you get over to Skatepark Noord’s Grind and Slam event for a damn good time skating and circle-pitting to Vitamin X and Kaak. Check the crucial details on the flyer and learn the 24-hour clock while you’re at it.
8/05/2020As many of you know, on March 6th the City of Austin issued a disaster declaration, cancelling SXSW in light of concerns relating to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Death Match on March 19-21 has been cancelled.
8/05/2020The mysterious performer Orville Peck has managed to draw a dedicated following ranging from country fans, punks, pop enthusiasts and everyone in between. Writing from the heart and keeping showmanship a priority has proven to be a successful combination. We were stoked to hear he's down with the mag.
8/05/2020A floating punk-rock festival adrift in the high seas? Walk the plank! Flogging Molly has hosted this epic cruise several times and this year they added skating to the mix. This feature includes interviews with Steve Caballero, Matt Hensley, Pennywise, Stiff Little Fingers, and Pegboy.