$14.25/20.00 [?]

MF Grimm
You Only Live Twice: The Audio Graphic Novel

MF Grimm’s life truly resembles that of your favorite comic book hero’s genesis. We now find the Manhattan bred, NYC underground legend trying to keep his brand of straight forward rhyming afloat after having gone through some of the toughest trials anyone ever could in a single lifetime. He returns with yet another issue of his spellbinding tales in the form of You Only Live Twice: The Audio Graphic Novel; a new album which bears a title that sharply points to MF’s past trials, despite the substantial bulk of the album failing to even glance in the same direction.

Fresh off the heels of being nominated for an Eisner award for his exceedingly dope work on his comic book autobiography “Sentences: The Life Of MF Grimm”, the one time recipient of a life sentence in prison (that he successfully got reduced to a 3 year bid) has rebounded back into the arena that he was most commonly known and sought out for prior to his resounding crossover success. On this his 8th official release, Grimm put his own sharp production skills on the shelf, opting to instead recruit Twiz The Beat Pro to produce the lion’s share of the album; a move that in all honesty was a mis-step. By the time you hit the 4th track on this album Twiz’s formulaic beat constructions begin to wear on you. The kid’s got talent no question, but his sound is highly superfluous and while it’s very enjoyable periodically ( “Waiting”, “The Compound”), for the most part every beat dropping in the same way and his uber clean mixes were un-inventive. I will say that he has a “big” sound and that if any MC ever needs a cat to produce them somethin uproarious or battle-like, Twiz is your guy. As far as him being a producer that can hold down a whole album himself though, I didn’t get that impression.

Of course many will read my qualms with the production as simply existing because Grimm wasn’t going in over DOOM’s beat’s; a former practice of Grimm’s that bred critically acclaimed works like Special Herbs And Spices Vol.1, before he and the masked one fell out. I suppose I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the beats on You Only Live Twice didn’t make me yearn for the former collaborators to once again get up, but really, back then Grimm’s rhymes were a smidgen more alert…and that brings me to my next critique; the actual rhymes.

Grimm is known for his delivery and prose. It’s distinctive and over the years it’s reeled in numerous underground heads who fiend for originality. However innovative his flow was or is, regrettably it wasn’t enough to get me to overlook some obtrusive holes in MF’s game. Like all artists eventually do, Grimm is beginning to dim somewhat when it concerns his fundamentals. Often during this album he strung together unimpressive rhyme to unimpressive rhyme and languorously failed to accelerate when he needed to, leaving his audience impassive and anxious. Virtually every song begins with an obscure sample skit that carries on far too long (“Legend Of The Golden Warrior” has an intro that is over 3 minutes long) and then phases into Grimm’s discomfited phrasing and posturing. The core rudiments that make any of his previous prime works dope like relatable subject matter, an assortment of the underground’s illest producer’s (or just DOOM) contributing beats and a willingness to delve much further into his personal experiences are largely absent here and that nonattendance sends this LP reeling to the canvas in the 1st round.

Many of the themes just didn’t fly with me. Expressly, “Medicine”; a tune I found particularly loathsome. The pointlessly breathy mish mash of Grimm paying reverence to a female that always puts him at ease (which he unoriginally likens to a prescription) is borderline un-listenable. This is a moment where the production really interferes with any type of enjoyable experience and ironically after hearing the geisha-like shrieking it contains, you yourself might need to pop a couple Advil’s. Grimm and Twiz don’t falter at every turn though, in fact “Angel Without Wings” is a dope piece of work and in my estimation the two’s best yield on this effort.

While I wanted very much for this album to be memorable, I’m afraid it just isn’t. The vibes remain shackled by the production misses and Grimm’s attempts at sounding moving while simultaneously experimenting with his sound leave you with a dulling, zero sum feeling at the conclusion of You Only Live Twice: The Audio Graphic Novel. What we wanted AKA detailed pennings about how Grimm overcame all his life’s dips and dives aren’t very plentiful and MF never really gets on track from start to finish on this album. The contributions with good energy (“Last Days”, “I Am King”) are often stagnated by un-lofty lyrical diatribes and don’t convince me that he’s still a must hear player on the underground scene. Unfortunately Grimm’s best works; The Downfall Of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera, Gingerbread Man and Special Herbs And Spices Vol.1 couldn’t seem any further from him these days.

$14.25 out of $20.00

-Dominick “BIG D O” Ledezma

Category: Reviews

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