Rap is one of the more confusing genres in the world to me. I like it, don’t get me wrong. But when I’m reviewing independent hip-hop, a lot of the things I use to weed out bad indie-rock don’t apply. There are plenty of rappers with annoying voices. There are plenty of rappers who have beats so sparse as to not even be important. There are plenty of rappers who jam their tracks full of singers to the point of clutter. Making up words, coming up with goofy phrases, generally being weird? All standard in rap.
So, reviewing underground rap is pretty much a crapshoot. There are a few rappers that rise above, but the K’Naans of the world aren’t really going for the radio right now.
All that to say, if you like mainstream rap, CR Gruve is your new fave. Their beats are tight, their flow is solid, their rhymes are good, and their sound is cohesive. They talk almost entirely about sex, women, partying and dancing; but so does everyone else in the rap scene. CR Gruve’s eight-song album The Naughty and the Nice fits in perfectly with other club rap right now. It’s nigh on indistinguishable, really, which is good and bad. They’re ready to make it big, because they’ve adopted and adapted a tried and true sound, but on the other hand, there’s nothing here that you haven’t heard.
But it is enjoyable. The hooks are solid, like on “Senorita” and the surprisingly tender “Milf Song.” The jams are upbeat on “Water” and slowed down on “Lunar Dance.” There’s some funky stringed bass action on “Frisky,” and the electronics get play in “Trollin.'” So, if you like radio-friendly, club-bangin’ rap, CR Gruve got your back.