When a musician has a tale to tell, they do it in the ways they know best, and Johnny Grhymes knows hip-hop and the ways soul music samples can fit to enhance the feel of his art. His most recent release God Save the King is a compilation of unapologetic modern rap and its roots, utilizing the flow of lyrics to drive home his stories of life, love and kingly duty.
Released through Brutal Business Entertainment on October 3rd of this year, his album is a fringe line of modern and artistic, making it easy on the ears of those who take issue with the modern styles of Rap, R&B and Hip-hop while staying true to the genre. This isn’t a baseless rhyme with no reason, he’s got a story to tell and does it with a natural talent and charisma – letting the words free flow over beats to where his mind takes him in that moment. Darkness of his past, love, loss, regret, with a punctuation of peace and family found. Hitting hard in the title track “God Save the King” there’s an emotional resonance of being ready and on guard, but his duty shouldn’t be mistaken for hatred or a hard heart, rather it’s a duty to protect what he has built and those he has found to share his life with. He’s worked hard to get where he is, no one will stop him and anyone who takes issue had better be ready.
Luther Vadross’s “Still in Love” samples on Grhymes‘ track “Luther Vibes” brings in an emotion of careful uncertainty, that feeling we’ve all experienced when we’ve found our hearts desire. The flow of lyrical rhyme and rhythm capturing and captivating as he goes. There’s more than a touch of “Summer Breeze” in “Summer Sessions”, with a deep guitar sound that seems to stem more from the Isley Brothers version than Seals and Cross. This modern sound fits well and sets the tone for a clear and charismatic lyrical remembrance of a summer in a past life, parts good and bad, while seemingly giving a side eye to Summer 2020.
It’s not all hard core and brutal business (yes, pun intended). The short, sweet surprise “Playlist” had me cracking up with his lighthearted jabs at his musical tastes and the line “if I could sing a fucking note I wouldn’t be rapping”. It made a nice break from the tempo driven beats of the album in full. Personally, that one real lighthearted moment in such bare knuckled and raw expression of emotion and life made me pause. Grhymes isn’t just an R&B artist with a tale of life as he’s seen it… For a minute he was someone I could have met at a party, joked with and gone on never knowing what he’s come from or overcome. Grhymes is a man who has found an outlet for his demons, releasing them into the world with great beats, a little of his favorite music, and a lyrical fire from the heart.
Overall God Save the King has a throwback feel in many ways, with a modern mix to keep it relevant. It’s smooth 70’s, R&B, free style flow wrapped around one man’s vision of life. I admit Johnny Grhymes was a surprise for me, R&B isn’t my normal style without a healthy dose of metal in the mix, but damn am I glad I got the chance to hear his music.