Your Grandparents are home with "Space Jam"
By Sean Lee
Black and white, full of grain, and barely visible. These are the silhouettes of artists BORNONTHECOAST, Jean Carter and producer Ghettoblasterman that signify a newfound maturation found in simplicity. The three artists make up the Los Angeles hip-hop trio Your Grandparents, and with the release of their debut single “Space Jam,” the artists have found a lane that is truly their own.
Championing sparse production and cutthroat lyricism over repetitive hooks and melodies, minimalism is a surprising moniker for a rap trio so often associated with the Los Angeles party scene.
This is largely owed to producer Ghettoblasterman whose production favors a simple Fender Rhodes sample over snares that one might hear in Brooklyn 1994, not in today’s hackneyed Los Angeles.
Similarities can be drawn between the “Space Jam” production and the works of Q-Tip on “Electric Relaxation” or Pete Rock’s “The World is Yours,” but that comparison would simply be an understatement of what minimalist production means today. Back then it was the zeitgeist -- the sound of the 90's scene. Today minimalism is a reactionary statement against a hip-hop genre that has become all too consumerist.
Lyrically the song forgoes extreme displays of dexterity choosing rather to hit words home than to hide between acrobatics. “I’ve been a beast on some different shit,” raps BORNONTHECOAST drawing a sharp line against any lyrical comparison that is well warranted. While BORNONTHECOAST'S flow might be reminiscent of Los Angeles veteran Blu or Seattle emcee Palaceer Lazaro, his flow seems truly unique over Ghettoblasterman’s production.
With “Space Jam,” Your Grandparents offer a revivalism in what is now lost in hip-hop -- an ethos of simplicity and confidence that is rooted in the genre’s once reactionary edge. Even pop cultural allusions to established icons like Basquiat, Beyonce, and Jay Z are used with a purpose when rapper Jean Carter states “They debate if I was born this way.” His hyperbolic comparisons seem well warranted when they come out the mouth of an emcee who is surprisingly unapologetic in today’s sadboy barred out scene. Confidence is what the genre is lacking and confidence is something Your Grandparents own.
With allusions to visual artists and a music video to match, aesthetics is equally an integral part in the release of “Space Jam.” Each member of the Los Angeles rap trio utilizes music as merely a facet of their artistry which includes a strong emphasis in the visual medium. However, even with its intentional glitches a la A$APMob, the music video comes as a secondary support to a completely visioned song.
With “Space Jam,” Your Grandparents take the music out of the drunken haze of a backyard party and back into the sobering cold of the outdoor streets -- the song is a comforting reminder that hip hop once was once something more than simply an intoxicated haze rooted in insecurity.
This piece is by Sean Lee. Follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leee.