Published Sep 29, 2014In 1994, a group of Scarberians formed like Voltron and created one of the greatest hip-hop collectives this country has every seen: Monolith. But two decades is eons in rap years. Hell, Scarborough wasn't even a part of Toronto yet when Grimace Love and company banded together. So the inevitable question is: Can a veteran like himself still make dope records? The answer is yes. Grimace Love's Strength, the followup to 2009's "Perception", is a raw rap album filled with bars that impress and a sound that remains true to the style that birthed Monolith, without sounding dated. The majority of the album is produced by Lancescape, so there's a consistency of chopped sampled boom-bap drums. Grimace Love's raspy Billy Danze-like flow comes off as aggressive on first impression, but conveys an approachable personality once you've taken in a few verses.
High points of the album include the title track's jazzy bounce, over which Grimace professes Monolith's might, and "Fallen," where the back and forth of falling in and out love is debated to chopped acoustic guitar strums as Brother J Vellore sings the chorus. The absolute pinnacle of Strength comes halfway through, on "Heartache," on which a foreboding piano loop and fading trumpet stabs courtesy of producer Dose allow Grimace to pour his heart out over the loss of a child. "I will never be the same," he sings as listeners attempt to comprehend what is most incomprehensible.
Weak moments on the aptly titled Strength are few and far between, although there are a few too many features. For years we mostly heard Grimace Love featured on other people's records, so perhaps favours are being returned here. The bulk of Strength is carried by Grimace Love, and throughout, he demonstrates an ability to stand on his own. (Independent)