One glass ceiling that consistently hangs over Griselda Records and the various offshoot brands run by its starting lineup is its aesthetic. While they are unquestionably incredible artists, their sound has cultivated a fan base that isn’t likely to sit through any drastic watering down of their music; this is why Armani Caesar is a secret weapon.
The 33-year-old MC has found a way to avoid being artistically boxed in.
“I am the wild card,” Armani tells HipHopDX. Her role in what was thought to be a new Griselda initially drew criticism from some fans—most of whom converted after hearing her impressive 2020 debut, The Liz.
View this post on Instagram
She did understand their criticism, though, considering her projects, pre-Griselda, had a sonic sensibility that could be regarded as more mainstream.
“It was my duty to show that I could do both,” she says, acknowledging that she hopes to bring another side to the label’s overall personality—all while remaining a lyrical beast, so to speak.
“I’m putting younger eyes on Hip Hop while setting a standard. However, you have to understand, Griselda can rap over boom bap beats, but they still go to the club,” she says. “People can be more than one thing.”
Her ability to remain eclectic is impressive, especially in a landscape where many female artists get lumped together.
“A lot of female rappers get pigeonholed,” she says. “We have critics saying all female rappers sound the same … only talking about their cookies or a ni**a.”
The niche she’s managed to carve for herself is one she believes will become even more expansive with the release of The Liz 2, executively produced by Westside Gunn.
“With this [album], I got a chance to show that I’m multi-dimensional when it comes to my craft; I can sing, I can rap, I can rock club beats, I can rap on boom bap beats—and still kill shit, regardless,” she says humbly.
“The Liz opened up my lane; people know I can rap,” she adds. “Now it’s time to show them I know how to make great music.”
— Camoflauge Monk (@CamoflaugeMonk) September 23, 2022
In describing the recording process for the new project, she emphasizes that the freedom she had made it particularly fun.
“I wasn’t so concerned with being a rapper; I wanted to make a sonically varied body of work,” she explains. “Singing, trying different types of production—while still staying in my bag, of course.”
She continues, “A lot of rappers out here can rap but can’t make a good song or a hit and still be lyrical,” she states bluntly. “My lane is clear when it comes to girls looking like me and rapping like me. There is no box for Armani Caesar.”
While the singles that have spawned from The Liz 2 thus far may not sound as eclectic as she describes them, early listens at HipHopDX revealed some surprises poised to take the Griselda brand into exciting new territory—with the Buffalo native serving as a bridge.
The Liz 2 is set to drop on October 21 via Griselda Records.