Review: British artist Griz O is ‘Out of Bounds’ on new mixtape
Not so long ago a rapper from Gloucester (in the West country of England) called Griz-O put out the fabulous, EP The Dojo. And whatever happened in there, whoever his sensei was, made him leaner, meaner and ready to get seriously tough. The evidence is there even in the name of the opening track and lead single of his new project Out of Bounds – ‘Ninja’ is the sound of a man levelling up, but if he’s worked in the shadows so far this is going to turn on a flashlight and push him centre-stage.
That said, Griz has never been quiet, delivering a stinging freestyle for Risky Roadz over one of the low-key biggest instrumentals of the year, and featuring in Red Bull’s Raise The Bar competition in which he did just that.
For Out of Bounds the proud Gloucesterman (Gloucesterian? Gloucesterer?) keeps things strictly South West in the beats department, working with the talented Bristolian producer OH91, an emerging kingpin of the grime scene in that corner of the world and beyond.
OH91 brings a solid helping of the scything grime he puts out himself, serving up gritty beats on tracks like ‘The One’, where he gets a name check from the man on the mic, and ‘Vibes’ (ft. Danja), but elsewhere the tempo drops into swaggering hip-hop territory. ‘Flexxxin’’ is a lazy one, giving Griz a canvas for a more relaxed flow – relaxed but not lacking a punch – and ‘Glitz and Glam’ sits on a bed of gigantic 808 kicks and hi-hat trills.
The record is given a different dimension by the introduction of guest vocalists, including Rider Shafique, Danja, Skatta and DankHomez as well as Grove, who puts in a master performance with soulful vocals on ‘Onwards, Upwards’ before bursting out into a razor-wire verse.
Griz was raised on hip-hop royalty thanks to his father’s taste for Tupac and Biggie Smalls, and as he announces on ‘Glitz and Glam’ he is not afraid to aim for the crown. “I’m Grizzly the first, not Henry the eighth or Richard the third”, he spits – he talks the talk, and more than walks the walk to back that up.