Sat Feb 19
3862 SE Hawthorne
The first track on Grayskul's long-awaited debut Deadlivers, "Behold," opens impressively with this line: "If ever there was a time in your life to be afraid/ I think this qualifies as the most terrifying of days." The rapper who delivers this line (or blow, as it's said with great force), Reason, captures perfectly the tone and character of our current political climate. These are the most terrifying of days. Our best politicians lack all convictions, while our worst are full of passionate intensity. This is the state of things, and Deadlivers mirrors that condition.
Grayskul are part of Oldominion, a trans-city (Seattle and Portland) collective of rappers, DJs, and producers who have been together since 1998, releasing albums primarily on Stuck Records.
The Oldominion network has produced two great CDs, One and Alone, but Grayskul's Deadlivers--on the Minneapolis-based label Rhymesayers (Atmosphere, MF Doom)--is the collective's first masterwork. One reason for the CD's success is the very simple fact that Oldominion's gothic aesthetic has finally found a home. Like all of Oldominion's works, Deadlivers is a heady concentration of Marvel comic books, gothic literature, B-rate horror movies, and post-Blade Runner science fiction. Before 9/11, before the reign of Bush the Second, before Iraq, Afghanistan, the 2004 presidential elections, and the climatic tsunami, Oldominion's supernatural violence seemed out of place and time. But now gory, gloomy imagery is omnipresent in the media, and Deadlivers is the latest and most fully realized expression of Oldominion's aesthetic.
The beats are heavy, operatic, with background string and horn loops that would be gray and black if translated into the visual terms of cinema. The more imperfect the world is, the more perfect Grayskul's record sounds.