MF Grimm-American Hunger
I’m not as dangerous as I used to be
Which makes me more dangerous than I used to be
– MF Grimm, “Broken Glasses”
My favorite album of 2006, MF Grimm’s 3 disc effort American Hunger is yet another weapon in the arsenal of those who argue hip hop is alive and kicking. The first triple album in hip hop history, American Hunger contains more ambition in one track than most current releases are able to muster in fifteen. The album is a honest, yet experimental effort which is near impossible to digest in one sitting. Attempting to take in this 205 minute beast of a meal all at once would dull its impact and leave you engorged. Like The Magnetic Field’s indie classic 69 Love Songs, American Hunger feels too large to be contained by one form of media and it is easy to envision the material being presented on stage or the big screen. Word is that MF Grimm’s story is destined for graphic novel status in 2007. Despite having a story that is ripe for exploitation, MF Grimm does not pull the “I have been shot ____ times” card. Confined to a wheelchair due to the bullets that were meant to end his existence, Grimm can state that he has been there and done that. However, at no point does he use the authenticity of his rhymes as a substitute for skills.
Taught me how to control inner demons
Transform this Hell
Turn it into Heaven
-MF Grimm, “When Faith Is Lost”
American Hunger is split into three different meals- breakfast, lunch, and the last supper. These meals don’t segregate topics, but the last supper disc does contain more religious overtones and subject matter. Throughout the effort, Grimm directs the majority of his anger and frustration towards society’s choking hierarchical structure. While many tracks contain poisonous darts aimed at the American power structure, this venom does not spill over into the many love songs that appear throughout the album. “Brand New” is the “I Only Have Eyes For You” of hip hop, “When Faith Is Lost” utilizes horns that would make Sam or Marvin feel at home, “It’s No Secret” contains a soulful bounce and a sharp vocal sample, while “Crazy” rocks a modern R&B vibe that would fit perfectly on radio if not for that little thing called payola. These tracks come across as genuine love letters rather than the typical “get the ladies to buy the record” gimmick. Don’t get it twisted though, because Grimm does kick some truly heartless and wicked shit throughout the album.
Proving a point
Burning this house to the ground
Yes, killing my master
-MF Grim, “Code Noir”
Production throughout the album is crisp, high-reaching, and never monotonous. American Hunger has little to nothing in common with today’s lazy production that believes a Casio keyboard and a bassline constitutes a dope track. Strings, guitars, pianos, horns, and innovative uses of percussion show what can happen when producers aren’t afraid to test the waters. I am a firm believer that a large part of the decline in hip hop is the production-line, Fast Food Nation mentality when it comes to beats. Great art takes more than Swizz Beatz hitting a couple buttons and fiddling with some knobs for fifteen minutes. “Right There” sounds like a declaration of war, “United” with Large Professor is straight money, and “Code Noir” feels as if it is dripping with pure rage.
The creator, I ask him “why do you love me?”
Why did you pick me?
Right back on Earth
Why did you stick me?
You took my brother
Why did you trick me?
You knew I loved him, now I’m without him
It felt like he turned his back
I said “fuck him”
Word up, get this dough, plot some murders
Enemies killed, but I don’t feel no better
Wasn’t raised to be this
Why am I bitter?
Succumb to American hunger like a quitter..
It’s not too late, Percy will be great
-MF Grimm, “Master Builders”
Grimm’s flow is quite possibly the most deceptive in hip hop. As shown in “Master Builders,” the epic, shining moment of American Hunger, Grimm’s delivery has evolved from the straight forward shoot em up style that was featured on tracks like Kool G Rap’s “Take Em To War” and Kurious‘ “Baby Bust It” to an abstract poetic flow. At times what can sound disjointed is Grimm taking the shortest route to the biggest impact. As shown on “A Mother’s Heart,” which bears a resemblance to OC’s “The Story”, Grimm is more than capable of creating cinematic images.American Hunger contains much more than boasting and bragging, weed smoking, words the rapper doesn’t even understand, and space nonsense.
Doin songs with RZA
That’s funny shit
I remember, you told me
That he bit “Tick, Tick”
You said Ghost was wack
You didn’t like his style
2 faced and 3 headed
Bitch, i’ll pull your file
-MF Grimm, “The Book Of Daniel”
Grimm’s wrath is not reserved for George W. He has more than enough to go around for rats (“Watch Out”) and his former ally MF Doom. On “Book Of Daniel” Grimm creates one of the most vicious dis tracks in recent history. Over a thicker sample of “Pass The Bone” by GZA , Grimm expresses conflicted feelings for his former friend who he feels betrayed him with his shots against him and M.I.C. on “ElChupa Nibre .” The 6 minute diss track will find a place in hip hop history as one of the greatest ever recorded. It shares the most in common with Ice Cube’s scathing “No Vaseline” due its lines that recall fonder times and memories. Grimm balances his shots at Doom with his reflections on his love for former partner and the hard times they helped each other through. What some may dismiss as a blatant attempt to boost his visibility, comes across as an honest and open expression of a friend who wishes to put differences aside and reconcile.
When one speaks of hip hop classics they aren’t mentioning American Hunger. Yet.