Though they've known each other for 15 years in the Seattle rap scene, it took until 2014 for the trio to finally collaborate. Now they have a self-titled album out.
Sitting together in the back of the bar at The Crocodile, the excitement Fearce Vill, Grieves and Grynch are feeling leading up to Greater Than’s June 9 album release party at the venue is palpable.
“So far, the response has been pretty damn amazing,” Vill said.
Though they’ve known each other for 15 years in the Seattle rap scene — before it was even a scene — it took until 2014 for the trio to finally collaborate on a song: a remix of Vill’s single “Let it Be.”
After a one-off show together opening for Prime a year later, they began piecing together material in between individual tours and projects, and were eventually left with enough songs to form an album. Sensing the timing was right, Greater Than was born, and its self-titled debut album dropped May 25 through self-distribution.
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“We never really decided to do a record,” Grieves said. “That happened afterward. It was kind of like, ‘Hey man, this worked out. This worked out, let’s just kind of do it.’ We banged it out pretty quick, but then life kind of gets in the ways of things and I had to put out my new project.”
While some of the songs sat in the can for a while as Grieves released 2017’s “Running Wild,” they’re not all older. Lead single “Motor Mouth” was recorded just before the album came out and serves as good introduction to the group’s dynamic: clever, tight raps from Vill (formerly of Dyme Def) and Grynch over a seductive, classic beat created by Grieves.
“We aren’t trying to make a [certain] sound,” Vill said. “Like for the ‘My Enemy’ song, [Grieves] was just working on the beat, building it and I was sitting behind him listening to it. By the time he’s done with the beat, I already had my verse done, had the hook done and went in and recorded it. And that’s kind of how it happened with this.”
That easy working style and the notion that they bring out the best in each other is why the trio is already eager to get back into the studio, even if the launch of their first album has been a slow burn and a tour to support the album isn’t a sure thing. That’s been due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that these veteran rappers now face what eventually comes for us all: adult responsibilities.
“The touring will be based on the response,” Grieves said. “[Fearce] has a kid, I just bought a house, [Grynch] is an adult.”
“That is a very nice compliment you just gave me,” Grynch interjected.
“He’s got a Volvo!” Grieves said. After the laughter died down, his face became serious. “We can’t be doing this like we were kids, where we just take all the money we have and just go [forget] it.”
“Shoot man, we’ve all been around a long time and seen people come and go,” Grynch said. “I’m happy to still be around because I know I just really love making music. You can’t get into this on some getting rich quick scheme.”
Instead, the group will be strategic and could end up piggybacking on Grieves’ next tour. Signed to Rhymesayers, Grieves has built a significant following outside of the Seattle area through relentless touring and he knows the value of hitting the road.
“It’s a really comfortable way for these dudes to get in front of my fan base, but at the same time I don’t want this to just be a subcategory of what I do already,” Grieves said. “I want it to be its own thing. But I know to be able to build that, you’ve got to get in front of people first.”
Greater Than, BFA, Anthony Danza, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 9; The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., Seattle; $12; 206-441-4618, thecrocodile.com.