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"RBG to me represents the type of ideology that's necessary to involve the people that need to be involved for the struggle that needs to be fought," Grime says. "Most people who are gangstas aren't evil people; they don't enjoy doing what they do. Most people that live the gangsta lifestyle do so because they've been pushed up against the wall. They have no other means to survive, to feed their families, to get by in a society that's removed all opportunities in their lives to be successful.
"These are the people who need change the most, who'll put their lives on the line for it. I love the people at the demonstrations, rallies, marches, and shows, but only the people who've been forced to where their life depends upon change will do what's necessary to achieve it. The key to me is to make these issues relevant to the people they affect. The best way, in my opinion, is through the hip-hop movement. People in slums, they've already been trained in guerrilla tactics. A guerrilla is someone whose means are unconventional, who blends in with society, who will do whatever's necessary."
If Grime's vision of how the revolution will go down scares you, be assured it's meant to. But for now, at least the only weapon Grime's employing is a microphone. And he has a more immediate goal than revolution. Grime wants nothing less than to be at the top of the underground hip-hop game.
"Grime! Put a fist in the air/No more peace signs the revolution is here/And the sound of the streets get 'em off of they seats/Like a hundred silverback gorillas stomping their feet/Fuck the industry, I'm underground like Osama/Plotting to bring the drama I'll bury ya roster . . ." "The Revolution Is Here"
Grime admits an affection for mainstream hip-hop artists like Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and The Game, as well as underground mainstays like Nas, Sage Francis, Aesop Rock, and Immortal Technique. "It's important to reach those people stuck in that Top 40 hip-hop spot," he says. "Go ahead, keep listening to it, it's just fun I listen for the beats, it's raw. It'll make you wanna knock a motherfucker out. It'll make you want to shoot a cop, get riled up I got no problem with that."
After George W. Bush's presidential victory in 2004, Grime threw himself into making politically dogmatic rhymes, first in Tucson and shortly after in Tempe, where he transferred his academic aspirations. It didn't take much to make a name for himself.
"I kept hearing all these [Tucson] locals tell me, 'Get Grime on a show,'" says local hip-hop promoter Ty Carter, of TMC Presents. "He hit me with a demo when I was down there, and on the way back I popped it in. It rarely happens, but I was blown away. I called him on the second song and said, 'I want to do your shit.' It's authentic, solid . . . his samples, his beats; it doesn't sound like anything anyone in AZ is doing."
The CD that Grime hit Carter off with is called Let Freedom Ring With a Buckshot. It's 10 songs of righteous fury, militant yet surprisingly educated poetics preaching revolution outside of the electoral process. It's self-produced, and Grime has used the album as an extension of himself rather than a product to be capitalized on.
At all of his shows, Grime mentions that the CD is available for five bucks, but also stipulates that if you only have two bucks, or don't have any money, come by the merch booth and talk to him and he'll make sure you go home with the music. All of the songs are also available to download for free at www.grimeworld.com or at www.myspace.com/grimemusic.
And as contradictory as it may seem, Grime's also become the biggest hustler in the rap game out of the 'Nix. Before a recent show opening for Boot Camp Klick at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, he spent a month of weekends driving to L.A. to give away CDs on Melrose Avenue, flier at hip-hop shows out there, and ensure that he pulled a large enough audience for the promoter to ask him back again. This despite the fact that he was playing the show for free, with no expenses reimbursed, and only his merchandise sales to compensate him.
Grime doesn't want to be a local artist refuses to be. You may have caught him at the Blunt Club or the New Times Music Showcase in the past year (both of which he played with the live band Antedote backing him), but his goals are loftier, and that's not just dissing on our heavily populated but culturally bland burg. His considerable hustling skills have brought him to the point where he won't even play small shows in other towns, and at this point he doesn't really need to.
"I don't like playing small shows, I don't enjoy it. If I enjoyed playing small shows, I'd do it. I don't. I don't like driving eight hours somewhere and playing for 30, 40 people. The kind of music that I do, the kind of set I have, it doesn't fit the vibe. It feels awkward to me. Music is about release, about doing something I want to do. If there's a moment when I don't enjoy doing something, I usually try to avoid that as much as possible."