Some music just feels like it was made for just you. That’s how I felt when I discovered the music of Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, and Benny The Butcher. I’ve always preferred gangsta rap music with lyricism (CHECK!) over soul sample focused production. (CHECK!) And why not throw in some random professional wrestling references in just because? (CHECK!) And that’s why I initially took to the Buffalo rappers of Griselda and their music. In a world of Hip-Hop filled to the brim with generic singing Auto-Tuned rainbow haired rappers (Not that there is anything is wrong with that), it’s nice to have a new upcoming rappers focusing on bars and lyrics get a spotlight.
Listening to the music from the solo releases by the Griselda trio of rappers (They release a lot of music), it reminds me of when DMX came out. It was 1998 and at the time Hip-Hop was dominated by shiny suits and Diddy remixes/remakes (Again, nothing wrong with that either). Then all of a sudden Earl “DMX” Simmons appears yelling “Let’s take it back to the streets, motherfucker!” with a black and white music video that causes seizures. I wonder if this is what’s happening now.
Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, and Benny The Butcher now have backing from none other than Eminem and Shady records, management by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, and gets named dropped by Drake in a rare interview for bringing back real bars. The term movement gets thrown around in rap all the time but this truly does feels like the start of something.
While Griselda has already flooded the streets with solo mixtapes from each rapper (Mostly Westside Gun and Conway) and already acquired a following, their major label debut, WWCD, is their step to the next level. The album is named after Benny The Butcher’s half brother and Westside Gunn’s first cousin, Marchello “Machine Gun Black” Lowery aka Chine Gun aka What Would Chine Gun Do? (Who they have immortalized through music before). The album artwork is of Claire, a notable woman from Buffalo who
is a crackhead has a drug problems.
The production on WWCD was handle by Daringer and Beat Butcha. Both of these producers are known for sampling but the thing to know about their work here is that each track contains no samples. Did they just replace/replay the samples with instrumentation? I don’t know but it’s cool that they were able to pull it off, especially when this whole project was reportedly done in two days.
So finally, let’s check out Griselda’s major label debut, WWCD.
ALL SONGS PRODUCED BY BEAT BUTCHA & DARINGER
1. Marchello Intro
I’m usually against rappers appearing on albums without rapping, but I’ll allow this. Raekwon giving advice, a heavy co-sign, and a passing the torch to the rappers of Griselda makes sense.
It feels like I read that The Chef did almost this very thing at a Griselda album release party but I can’t remember where I read that from so I could have made it up in my old age.
And remember: “Don’t allow a nigga that don’t love you to make you feel like you gotta love him more than he love you.” Okay. Let’s go.
2. Chef Dreds
This is a good example of Griselda as a unit. On “Chef Dreds” you see Westside Gunn, Conway, and Benny The Butcher go back and forth with bars (“bar after bar after bar after”) over a gritty sample (That’s not actually a sample). No chorus to speak of, which is a thing you see on most of this album, but that gives more room for rapping.
This was the second single off WWCD and while it didn’t set the world on fire, it was a good example of the talent possessed on this team.
I wasn’t into this song at first due to not liking the beat that much, but eventually it grew on me. Even though the beat came come off boring at time, Conway, Benny, and Westside Gunn still did their thing here (Even though the song just kinda ended in mid-sentence during Westside’s verse). “Moselle” (Which I’m guess is a Buffalo reference) isn’t the best but it’s worth a listen.
4. Cruiser Weight Coke
I don’t know what exactly “Cruiser Weight Coke” is but it’s one of the coolest song titles I have heard in a while. And with the wrestling references surprisingly low on WWCD, I’ll take what I can get.
“Cruiser Weight Coke” is also one of the standouts on the project. The guitar focused baseline go well with the gangster lyrics with Benny The Butcher being probably the best on this song:
Ran it up ’cause I trap a lot, these niggas know about the cash I got
But my plug still playin’ broke, he in Old Navy in a Apple Watch
5. Freddie HotSpot
This another song with production that makes you asks yourself, “How in the hell is this not a sample.” The moody piano instrumental reminds me of gangster/drug rap from the late 90’s and to me that’s the appeal.
“Freddie HotSpot” is also one of the few songs that contain a chorus (It comes after two verses but it’s technically a hook from Conway). This song, named after a restaurant in Buffalo, works.
6. Dr. Bird’s
“Dr. Bird’s” was the first single off WWCD and probably the best song on the whole project. It shows off the best of the whole Griselda team from the rhymes to the production.
It also gave birth to one of the best lines of the year:
Told Virgil write “Brick” on my brick
What’s crazy is this actually happened and brings together drug dealing rap and high fashion, something that rappers like Westside Gunn and Pusha have defining for a minute. Now all I need is the Hype Williams directed video to drop.
Wait, did Virgil Abloh actually sign a brick of cocaine?
7. The Old Groove
The slight psycadelic feel of “The Old Groove” won me over. And combine that with Conway telling other rapper they are not good enough or Benny using your baby mother as a “stash option” and we have a winner here.
This was almost ruined was the Novel feature; it felt out of place. This was not the song to feature an R&B singer so I don’t get it. It’s at the very end so skipping the part all together isn’t that much of a hassle.
“Scotties” reminds me of “Dr. Bird’s” but with a whammy bar used in the beat instead of xylophones.
Conway and Westside Gunn share the first verse and give more room to Benny to do his thing (Which he does):
I rose from the streets, I did the most with the least
My team had the best numbers when the coke wasn’t cheap
Fuck your plug’s plug, ’cause I can get both numbers beat
It’s five hundred a bottle, but the hoes want it free
I mention that the song remind me of a previous one but that wasn’t a diss. Give me more songs that sound like “Dr. Bird’s” and I wouldn’t complain. Especially if they contain lines like “Haters be your biggest fans, then they take the witness stand.”
Featuring Tiona Deniece
You can skip this one. Westside Gunn and Tiona Deniece are just singing “Blow his fucking face off” over a mellow beat. Gunn does stuff like this on his solo material but this should not have made the album.
10. City On The Map
Featuring 50 Cent
I have a feeling that this song, like the original version of “Bang”, were suppose to be on Conway’s Shady Records debut (I could be wrong of course). One reason to think this is because Conway is one rapping on this song besides 50 Cent.
Speaking of 50, I always saw similarities between him and Conway (Example: Both had their speech changed due to a near fatal shooting). I can also hear 50 Cent’s influence on projects like the Everybody Is Food series.
50 Cent isn’t known for his rapping as much these days but he sounds fine here along side The Machine over a suitable instrumental from Beat Butcha and Daringer that sounds like something the G-Unit rapper would have picked in his heyday.
11. May Store
Featuring Keisha Plum
On the technically the last song on the album, the Griselda trio go out on the same gangster shit the came in with. At this point in the review you know what that entails. The ending has poet Keisha Plum, who regularly makes appearances on Griselda projects, do spoken word.
12. Lowery (AA Outro)
Featuring Bro A.A. Rashid
This outro is a bookend to the Raekwon intro but this time it’s featuring A.A. Rashid talking over the same instrumental. To be honest I never heard of this guy but a quick Google search will show that his is an author of books like African American Bastard Making Machine and How to Write Your Own Bible. Okay.
13. Bang (Remix)
This is a bonus track and I already mentioned that I feel the original version of “Bang” and “City On The Map” featuring 50 Cent were suppose to be on Conway’s album (Again, I could be wrong). While the O.G. version has only Conway and Eminem, this version adds a verse from Benny and Westside Gunn. I basically wanted to write about this to point out that Eminem is the worst part on this song. That is all.
WWCD is an example of excellent gangster rappity rap music. If you like to hear a plethora of lyrical metaphors on drugs sales and gun play, this is your album. If you are looking for factory made songs ready for the radio and filled with the latest trends or even hooks, this should probably skip this one, even with cosigns from your world class rappers like Eminem, Drake, or Jay-Z
I remember Westside Gunn in interviews saying that he couldn’t get his drug dealer friends to invest in his music because he wasn’t making music for the club. I actually think some of the music they make could be played in clubs, just not in 2019/2020. It reminds me early Jay-Z, Raekwon & Ghost, Big Pun, and whatever late 90’s good gangster rap references you can think off. And I appreciate that.
All that being said (And already stated in this review), I love this type of Hip-Hop. I can finally bring back my screwface while looking forward to what else Griselda has in store for the future. Boom boom boom.