new music: greg grease’s ‘born to lurk, forced to work’ breaks down the conflict between making art and making rent #soundcheck

March 18, 2015

Rapper Greg Grease cut his teeth playing drums in punk rock bands, and brings that dynamism and focus on changing the world through music to his raps. On his latest, the masterful ‘Born To Lurk, Forced To Work’, he breaks down the conflict between making art and making rent, and between trying to live positively and confronting the negativity in the world.


By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor


From the Native Tongues nodding ‘Intro’, he sets the tone: powerful rhymes over beautiful instrumentals that look back to both hip-hop’s golden age as well as early 20th century classical music, and the majestic space-scapes of Sun Ra. ‘Seeing Being’ pops with features from Ak Rite and Tall Paul, and a hook courtesy of Alicia Steele. The track is probably the best distillation of Greg Grease’s philosophy of self-empowerment and struggling against the outside forces that seek to keep you down. ‘Really Tho’, which we featured last year, still shines here with some of Greg Grease’s strongest verses on record. “I’m writing scripts on how I’m livin / Never switching how I’m feeling / Just cause dollars in it / My name is worth more than my pot to piss in.”



The back half of the record is full of more spaced out production, including the haunting ‘Lurkestra’ and the Erik Satie-sampling ‘SunShowers’. Greg Grease’s fury turns contemplative, “never been one for the bullshit,” he laments over one of the best beats on the record (though the honor for best beat goes to “Wake Up.”) The chill vibes of the beats juxtaposed against bemoaning all the bullshit speaks to the line “we lurk late” from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool” that gives ‘Born To Lurk, Forced To Work’ it’s name. As Greg Grease explains:


‘We lurk late’, reads a line from Gwendolyn Brooks’ iconic poem “We Real Cool,” describing a group of young Black men shooting pool on the south side of Chicago. The last line reads “we die soon.” Death, preceded by the carefreeness of youth is a juxtaposition all too familiar to Black Americans. To lurk is to be your own boss. To defy America’s social order. To lurk is to survive, and as a Black American, survival is work in itself.


Greg Grease’s ‘Born To Lurk, Forced To Work’ is available now here.