Album Review :
Grits - Reiterate

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Artist: Grits
Album: Reiterate
Label: Revolution Art
Release Date: July 29, 2008
Reviewer: Eric Pettersson

Tracklist:
1. Sky May Fall
2. Walking My Way
3. Fly Away
4. Turn It Up
5. Something about You
6. Reminds Me
7. Get It Started
8. Livin’ Dreams
9. Dusk till Dawn
10. I Run
11. Beautiful Morning
12. Say Goodbye

As stalwarts to the Christian hip hop scene since 1995, Grits have made quite a name for themselves. Now, released from their contract with Gotee Records, the rap duo has created its own label, Revolution Art, which will operate as an imprint of Sony BMG and Provident. While intentionally avoiding all the typical drivel about artistic freedom, I have to say that Grits has certainly taken a step outside of the box with this record, trying new things and, usually, succeeding.

In any good hip hop album, one can expect a number of featured artists. Pigeon John comes as no surprise to offer his voice on “Beautiful Morning,” an upbeat anthem with the encouraging lyrics Grits has come to be known for. On the other hand, Grits have tried new things and got a few other singers to lend their talent, singers that would be much less anticipated. Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay appears on the opening track, “Sky May Fall,” a poppy but relaxed song that also points towards a future hope and positive living. Even more shocking is the dark and heavy “Fly Away,” which features Mac Powell of Third Day on the bridge.

It may disappoint some to know that “Reiterate” is not just the “Art of Translation, Part 2” that fans have been seeking since 2004, but “Reiterate” pushes forward brilliantly, gaining the ear of this reviewer who had forgotten about them, along with rap in general, for the past five years. As someone who nowadays spends most of his time with indie rock, I’m surprised at how much I like this album, but I think it is working proof of what Grits was trying to do this time around: gain new fans outside of the normal bounds of the hip hop subculture.

But at the same time, these songs are at the forefront of where rap music is at these days. In fact, I worry it’s so ahead of its time that mainstream audiences won’t get it. The dance songs like “Turn It Up” or pick-up songs like “Walking My Way” could easily sit alongside artists like TI or Ludacris on today’s radio, but many of the other songs have an experimental and progressive nature like the slower love song, “Something about You,” with its jazzy piano and guitar, laced with an almost bluegrass sounding fiddle.

No matter what was on this record, it would be a breath of fresh air compared to that awful Lil Wayne song “Mrs. Officer” that seems to be so popular these days. Fortunately, Grits are a breath of fresh air for many more reasons than that. After 15 years in the industry, Coffee and Bonafide continue to be innovative and have just released one of the best albums of their career.

[MySpace] [Revolution Art]