Grynch: Too Much Good Stuff

Along the road to progression, the MC battles bad habits and uncertainty.

Grynch drags ass into Hattie's Hat, located in his native Ballard, and drops into a booth clutching a much-needed glass of pineapple juice. With his rheumy eyes, visible through stylish glasses, and hunched posture, the MC with a strong local following and a tennis-ball hairdo looks like he's one step away from collapsing after an all-night bender. Perhaps he needs to slow down. That's a struggle Grynch (born John Overlie) raps about in the eminently relatable "Doin' Too Much" from his upcoming EP, Chemistry, out July 12. On the track—produced by underground hitmakers Keelay and Zaire—Grynch confesses in a tonic blast of weariness and glee: "Yeah, homey, I'm on one/I spent all night posted up at the bar, son/My problem's some nights I wind up doing too much." But today he's not fresh off partying too hard. Rather, he's in the midst of an intense transition whose end result remains unknown. His haggard speech and slow movements at Hattie's belie tons of recent introspection. At 23, the Ballard High School/Pacific Lutheran University alum has reached a kind of midlife crisis. The modest pile of money he's stacked up from shows and odd jobs is fast diminishing. Although Grynch has been in contact with a once-major West Coast rapper turned producer, so far nothing has come of it (which is why Grynch prefers to stay off the record about naming the producer, whom he met via Twitter). And he hasn't been eating properly—which, coupled with an all-night lifestyle fueled by booze, is depleting his energy reserves. "It's just gotten to a point where I feel like my diet sucks," Grynch says with a throaty harrumph. "And're kicking it at shows or some kind of function every night just drinking, no matter how much you drink, it's gonna eventually give you a little bit of wear and tear. I'm not sitting here like, 'Oh my God, I have a problem.' But...I wanna chill on it." Since his breakout first full-length album, 2005's This Is What I Do, Grynch has done anything but chill. He regularly appears on other artists' albums, from D. Black's upcoming project to Illmind's Blaps, Rhymes and Life Vol. 2 compilation, and is consistently dropping new material. His sophomore disc, My Second Wind, released in January 2008, earned him even more props in Seattle's hip-hop realm for the remarkable growth he showed. And Grynch's next effort, the EP Something More, offered free on his site,, in November 2008, was by his own reckoning a "mellow project" that shone with still more progress. But the mellowness that Grynch references may be a subconscious, or inadvertent, critique. Uncharacteristically, he worked with only one production team, Boston's Two Good Men, which helps explains why the disc, while self-assured, feels a bit like an exercise. With Chemistry, however, Grynch returns to using a number of producers, and in the process is getting even closer to coming into his own. Recorded entirely at North Seattle's D-Sane Asylum in two sessions over a month, the project, Grynch says, cost less than a grand, and he's releasing it free on his site. Besides the drunken debauchery of "Doin' Too Much," Grynch deploys his distinctive, deep-lunged voice to talk about his love affair with music on the DJ Nphared–produced "You Know Me," featuring RA Scion of Common Market, and his love/hate relationship with his crappy car on the hilarious Ill Pill–produced "My Volvo." ("A silver Volvo 240 DL/It make me wanna choke somebody out/Call me Sprewell"). Other highlights include his two collaborations with producer Scenik: the epic-sounding title track, featuring One Be Lo, and the jazzy "Smoke and Mirrors," featuring Tunji and Geologic. "I'll put it like this," he says. "I could always rap. But I think now I'm just so much more comfortable and confident on the mic. It just sounds more natural than it ever has. And I think it can only get better—hopefully." Hope. What a funny, fucked-up thing. It gets you up in the morning but tortures you at night, and Grynch knows this all too well. "While I am sitting here, kinda like, 'What the hell's gonna go on?,' the fact that I may potentially be working with who I consider to be a West Coast hip-hop legend, the fact that...something like that might be on the horizon—that's fucking exciting." With all that said, the staggering reality is that for the first time in a long time, beyond his EP release party this weekend, Grynch doesn't know what's next: "I've got stuff written here and there. I've got dang-near an album's worth of beats. I have ideas and concepts, and I've got half-written songs. But after Chemistry I'm really gonna re-evaluate some things and just see what happens."

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