In any field, growth is what we use to measure and mark levels of success. In music, we see growth in skill level, topical selection, delivery and overall performance. We're constantly looking for artists to grow but we're also constantly finding many stuck in their same old positions in the game. So, after years in the independent market, with solo efforts and group projects, The Grouch has decided to release Show You the World, an album that could potentially show growth in maturation or the stagnation of yet another underground emcee.
The growth on this album is apparent from the jump. From the kick-off, Grouch's hook writing ability, which few have praised over the years, is noticeably improved. "Artsy", "Never Die", "Yardwork", and "Breath" all balance catchiness with substance. When he gets assistance, the hooks are even better, which is the case on "Watch Watch" featuring Mike Marshall, Shero and The Time, highlighted by Marty J's vocals.
As for topical selection, The Grouch has a lot to touch on. The new father (his daughter graces the album cover art) spits about wifey ("Shero"), his mother ("Never Die"), drug addiction in family members ("Bring it Back") and his own personal struggles and triumphs ("The Time", "Breathe"). He does this while being meditative ("God Bless the Elephant") and hyphy ("LA to the Bay") and while providing a dis to rappers ("Clones") or a political message on corporation takeovers ("Mom & Pop Killer"). Read over this paragraph to note the diversity in subject matter. Whether dropping gems about life and wisdom or simply spitting about west coast love, The Grouch maintains his usual candor and "simple yet complex" lyrical style. So, the lines won't go over many heads but they won't be dumbed down, either.
The album is not flawless, though. For instance, while there is improvement, some of the choruses still leave much to be desired. "Favorite Folks" and "Clones" offer some of the least compelling hooks on the album. For some, this may take away from overall enjoyment of the album or draw away from otherwise solid tracks. Cohesiveness is also a key ingredient in a complete album. Here, the flow is interrupted at times going from smooth and mellow to hyphy without warning. This also draws away from a solid effort.
Still, missteps aside, the album shows more than simply growth. The Grouch has always balanced intelligence with simplicity and that balance is taken to another level on this album with more diversity and flavor than he's shown in past outings. While there are still some beats that seem out of place or some hooks that seem forced, the album becomes more enjoyable with time. His subject matter and delivery show evolution and development but more importantly, the album shows that he wants many others to share in that progression as well. So, while it may not be perfect, The Grouch succeeds in showing us his world.