For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the subject of today’s review, I like to start off with an anecdote of what it means to see dope personified; knowing exactly what it looks like when you first see it.
It seems like not too long ago when Android No.23 released Room. In fact, by the time of this article, that project is celebrating its one year anniversary. Some time later, the Baltimore rapper-producer juggernaut hosted a live performance at The Crown in Baltimore with a star-studded lineup.
I came to see my favorites, but came across this eclectic MC with his hat twisted to the back and rapping furious bars on the stage with the likes of Android, Vlad and others, making his set a highlight of that night. “This guy is ill as shit,” were the words I remember escaping my mouth with each track as the fresh MC Gravey stabbed the beat with poetically aggressive precision. When you think about the lauded underground rap scene, the 90s essence, the bars people say they want our of rap today… you should think of Gravey. One year later, with the entire landscape changed, Gravey has his moment irregardless of the world’s stances with his The Calm Before EP.
Agni Kai (prod. by mfundishi)
I review projects differently now whether by walking, relaxing in my room alone, car drives, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate matches whippin’ Baltimore creatives’ ass or more ways of immersion. Regardless of how I test drive songs now, “Agni Kai” is one I had to replay multiple times in close to any setting I was because it banged even harder with each successive replay. The namesake comes from the term on Avatar the Last Airbender in which two Firebenders have a Firebending one-on-one battle of honor to settle a score.
The Avatar series has become immensely popular due its Netflix release this summer, so the song, to represent Gravey rapping in fury for honor, grit and in timing for the worldwide popularity of the franchise, is executed in a very sharp-witted manner. The cadence and timing of the beat is difficult to be absorbed into at first for the starting off of the EP, but Gravey annihilates his verse even on the plane of abstractness as the beat evolves into something fit just for him.
“Don’t get involved, I’ll get it solved, who you gon squabble with?“
Gravey raps with a fury and those type of bars that don’t need a fancy ass metaphor or wordplay to hit you in the head like brass knuckles, as he declares the fire he’s now coming with given his past.
Flaunt (Prod. by Lil Left)
“Flaunt” is exactly the type of flex-rap the average listener of rap is expecting to hear, but with a name-brand Gravey sauce drizzled in even as he employs a modern rap flow. He references his past grind again from years back in 2015 while not mincing his new attitude with lines like “Baby I take what I want”. Gravey’s line of “Live from the gutter with broke mics!” reminds me of The Crown on Friday nights in the best-worst way possible. #IYKYK.
“Demon scheming on a frozen wrist, tryna balance keep my fucking soul in this.”
Crumbs ft Solo (Prod. by Bobby Woody)
“When they said to chill, I just spazzed more.”
This track was undeniably my favorite that should be yours as well. Preference is preference, but precision is also precision. “Quiet as kept” really might be a tailor-made term fit for producer Bobby Woody. When artists send me unreleased music, this homie in particular is typically involved and those beats be banging from start to finish. That man is working. Bobby Woody’s production for this track slaps you in the face and is clean cut, wonderfully mixed, and thousand dollar worth industry standard knockin’. With this foundation, Gravey, in the days of old with a MC to their DJ, becomes the perfect complimentary instrument to the beat. As contemplative as Gravey is reflecting on life, his bars remain merciless. Outside of this EP, this track is album worthy as an interlude or outro. Solo’s vocals provide the necessary contrasting energy for the chill energy of Gravey to finish off the track, echoing the same themes and persona of grind.
Although solid, hopefully this EP is Gravey’s appetizer for the masses as a revamped hunger that hopefully carries through in the near future for what will be a stellar full project. Stay tuned, stream the project on multiple streaming platforms now and follow Gravey on his Twitter and Instagram social media accounts as @gravey443 .