Photo by Arian Stevens

The Grouch Set to Leave Paradise for West Coast Tour

Over the past decade, Oakland, Calif. native The Grouch has proven to be the embodiment of the independent musician. Alongside his crew the Living Legends, Grouch built an underground empire from the ground up, building a reputation by pounding the pavement with dope product, selling his music to fans hand-to-hand. He always made himself visible and bridged the often-murky area between supplier and consumer. Hustle aside, it was his music that resonated with fans. Instead of a fast food filling, Grouch based his lyrics in reality—honest and candid, intelligent and insightful. Through 10 solo albums, five group collaborations and more than a handful of Living Legends projects, Grouch has never led fans astray. An inspiration for anyone looking to make it happen by doing it their way, his career has shown that hard work and dedication go a long way.

In support of How the Grouch Stole Christmas, his aptly titled 11-city West Coast tour, the man whose fuzzy 4-track songs I once put on a Maxell mixtape spoke from his newly settled island paradise on topics ranging from modern-day subsistence living to Dr. Seuss—and of course, music.

I understand you’re out in Hawaii at the moment. Is that for work or pleasure?
Nah, I’m living out here doing the family life, growing vegetables and chillin’. Working of course, every day, all day, grinding over the Internet and over the telephone. It’s not a permanent thing, I don’t think, but we like it out here a lot so we wanted to give it a trial period. We were supposed to stay six months, but at the end of the six months we were like, we got to go for another six months. We’re taking it as it comes.

You said growing vegetables, are you really on some subsistence level shit out there or what?
Nah, we’re just living. We’re staying at a house that get its water from the rain and has solar power, and we have a good vegetable garden going. We’re just doing natural family life: kicking it, and jumping in the ocean and drinking coconuts.

That sounds amazing.
Yeah, it’s been a real good experience. It’s a good change, and we did it at a good time. It’s still the United States, but it feels a little bit detached out here. There is less advertising, less TVs around.

Your latest tour, How the Grouch Stole Christmas, is going to take you away from your paradise for a couple days. Off the top, it was nice to see fellow Living Legend Eligh’s name right there with yours.
Yeah, it worked out good because me and Eligh have an album coming out March or April of next year. People always ask when the next G&E album is coming out. Me and Eligh are good friends so when we do shows, it’s always fun, and people love to see the combination of us two. We’re both on the same page, as far as us both doing sober shows and all that, and we’re both at a time in our careers where we are taking everything very seriously and trying to step our games up.

I was going to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard mention of G&E as a group. What can you say about the album so far?
We’ve got a strong single with Gift of Gab, so you’ll hear that. But as far as everyone else, we have Mistah Fab on there, Sage Francis and Slug on a couple different songs. We’ve got a song produced by Flying Lotus, a joint produced by Amp Live of Zion I. It’s going to be a good release. I’m really proud of the music so far.

The Bayliens are also scheduled to play, but there is one name that I didn’t recognize: Paul Dateh.
Yeah, he’s dope. He’s from L.A. and played violin on my last album; he’s also a vocalist too. If you Google him, there are some pretty amazing videos of his violin skills, and how he combines them with hip-hop. He’s just coming up and making a name for himself. When you watch the set though, you’re like damn that was dope. Every time I have him open up for me, he gets a really good response. The Bayliens, they’ve been working real hard and I like the way they do their stuff, so it all works together.

Alright, last one to wrap it all up. Looking at Dr. Seuss as a writer, in terms of his story telling, his structure, his rhymes, how would you rate him in MC terms?
Dr. Seuss is a dope poet, and would make a dope MC. I think if he wanted to rap, he could probably have some tight raps. I don’t know how much of a coincidence it is that I’m using one of his themes, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me that my rhyme style reminds them of Dr. Seuss. I don’t know if that’s a diss or not [laughs]. It wasn’t like, “You have the most Simple Simon rhymes in rap,” but I have been told that they can see a resemblance, and I take that as a compliment. I like the dude’s style. He’s not the most complex, but he’s successful for a reason. The way he put his books out there, and the content in them with the pictures and the whole package, I really respect the dude.

Simple or not, at the end of the day he’s saying something of substance, which can always be said of your music.