THE WOLF OF GRAPE STREET by 03 Greedo
Genre: Trap Rap
Favorite Tracks: “Beat That Thang Down (featuring PNB Rock),” “Vulture (featuring Ketchy the Great),” “For My Dawgs”
For starters, let us clear that air that 03 Greedo does not get his name from the famous Star Wars bounty hunter who supposedly shot first. Instead, the Watts-based rapper overtly exposes his membership to the infamous Grape Street Crips without fear of judgement or threat from rival gangs and labels alike. The “03” is derivative of 103rd Street in Los Angeles where Greedo resided during his stay in the Jordan Downs Projects, while “Greedo” is the product (according to 03 himself) of a standard conversion in the Projects from his old rap name “Greedy Giddy.” A man who proudly hails from the streets, 03 Greedo does not bring any formal artistic schooling to the table, instead delivering raw emotion, documenting even the most minute moments of life within housing projects, prison, and the unfortunate circumstances of the disenfranchised in America.
His latest venture, THE WOLF OF GRAPE STREET, runs 21 songs deep—and this is his shortest release in some time. His last project, 2017’s MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING, has 33 listed tracks, while PURPLE SUMMER hit 40 when he released it in 2016. If you add those up with his other 2016 mixtape, the sequel PURPLE SUMMER 2: SON DON’T SHINE, you hit a grand total of 127 tracks in just about two years. It’s quite an impressive feat for a rapper who likely will not break into mainstream radio anytime soon. His desire to push out so many songs does run a risk of quality control in the future, but nonetheless, such tenacity certainly justifies his selection as a contender for the 10th spot in this year’s XXL Freshman Class.
On THE WOLF OF GRAPE STREET, 03 Greedo is currently working on nailing down what his identity is going to be stylistically. When compared to his XXL competitors such as 6ix9ine, Lil Xan, and Lil Pump, 03 Greedo delivers to us a less antipathetic approach to the rap medium. The current tropes of mumblerap are often replaced with soulful Auto-Tune or random R&B vocals that are reminiscent of T-Pain in his prime. On “Safety” and “For My Dawgs,” 03 Greedo shows off his sing-rapping prowess to serve up cathartic hooks, delivering a similar technique on “Substance,” the definitive slow jam of the album, in which 03 describes his love of substances over soft synths and the sounds of seagulls near the shore. That, juxtaposed against the heart-pounding “Vulture,” reveals to us a more aggressive artist whose penchant repetition on the song can be exhausting and violent. Throughout the piece, references are made to a number of animals as metaphors for rival gang members and colleagues, thematically equating his circumstances to that of the jungle (after all, he is the Wolf of Grape Street). On top of that, 03 Greedo establishes his bark-like pronunciation of “Ay” as his personal signature, since the noise makes its way onto almost every track. This is most notable on “Look At Me Now,” a song that celebrates the championing of his success so far, both on streets and in the booth, which cryptically ends with the lyric, “Same age that my daddy died,” despite just explaining that this is the beginning for him.
THE WOLF OF GRAPE STREET comes to us with some urgency. 03 Greedo is currently facing charges for possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm. If he is convicted, he faces anywhere from 25-99 years in prison. With this knowledge in hand, the rough exterior of this notable Crip is a tad more accessible to the outsider. In fact, “Beat That Thang Down,” albeit a disrespectful title, offers up a fairly vulnerable 03 who is sleeping with a girl he believes is going to turn him over to the Bounty Hunter Bloods, the notorious rivals of the Grape Street Crips. That being said, he then brags about courting the girlfriend of an imprisoned man on the following track, “Run For Yo Life,” exclaiming, “I been sleeping with your girlfriend, same time you’re doing time.”
Overall, you can still expect your fair share of “purple” and “loud” references on this album, but it is 03’s unique execution that reminds us we are listening to a grown man with a beautifully tragic perspective to offer the listener. With help from local LA producers BeatBoy and Ron-Ron, we are treated to a medley of samples ranging from flutes to animal noises that allow 03 Greedo to stand out on his own. Features from Ketchy the Great, Ralfy the Plug, and others break up a project that can feel a little long, but at the end of it all, 03 Greedo shows us his full range as a rapper and vocalist. During a time where his contemporaries can often come into prominence overnight and then disappear from the rap radar even faster, 03 seems to understand his place in West Coast hip hop and will hopefully be able to make a lasting impression on the genre throughout his career.