Album Review: Tee Grizzley - Scriptures
Platinum-selling hip-hop artist Tee Grizzley will take your watch and make you buy it back. While I don’t think his authenticity has been in question, on his newest album Scriptures he makes a point to let us know that the lack of doubt is for good reasons.
The Detroit emcee burst onto the scene in 2016 with the release of his viral hit “First Day Out” which came after Tee was released from a three-year prison stint for home invasion. This song quickly led to a deal with 300 Entertainment which led to more hit singles such as “From the D to the A” with Lil Yachty. The menacing rapper followed with his well-received debut mixtape My Moment in 2017. 2018 saw the release of his debut album Activated which featured the likes of Lil Yachty, Chris Brown, and frequent collaborator, Lil Durk.
Tee Grizzley announced his newest album and begin its rollout mid-April with the release of the tapes first single “God’s Warrior” a threatening track where the Detroit artists shows us that his pen game hasn’t declined since “First Day Out” in 2016. The track switches beats halfway through to a minimal instrumental anchored by gun sound effect allowing us to hear every blood-thirsty bar Tee spits. A month later, Grizzley returned with “Locked Up” an ode to his friends and family not with him. Tee’s singing on the hook is emotionally charged and he absolutely snaps when he goes in making the song a moving performance. “Sweet Thangs” was released at the end of May and was the last single from Scriptures. The track is truly terrifying and showcases the talented lyricist rapping about how he will gladly take advantage of anyone who isn’t already in his circle regardless of their intentions.
Scriptures was released on June 7th and executively produced by veteran producer Timberland. The album was released alongside a video game designed by the rapper with the same name as the album. The game is currently available on PlayStation and Grizzley said he is currently working on getting it on Xbox. The tape is 14 songs long and runs for 40 minutes, 20 minutes shorter than his debut project Activated.
The album starts with the lead single “God’s Warrior” and is followed by the third single “Sweet Thangs”. These are easily two of the hardest hitting tracks on the album and I have no issue with Tee starting the album with two pre-releases.
The fifth song “Had To” is a clear standout and the beginning to my favorite section of the album. On this two-minute track, Tee talks about some of the hardest things he’s had to do such as killing a friend who knew too much and having to attend his funeral. Over the past years, Tee has established himself as one of the most honest emcees in the rap game and this song is a perfect example of Tee’s blunt honesty. He raps a verse about buying a chain that he didn’t have money for because “he thought he had to”.
The song is followed by the lightest track on what is overall a very dark album. “Locksmith” showcases Tee singing but still refusing to sugarcoat his vivid storytelling and lethal intentions.
The title track “Scriptures” comes next and contains one of Tee’s most addicting flows on the album. The hook is absolutely nasty and the back end of the second verse is a highlight of the project for me.
“Scriptures” is followed by the aforementioned single “Locked Up”
The next song “Add Me Up” is a motivational anthem and potentially my favorite joint on Scriptures. On “Add Me Up” Tee is fed up. He’s fed up with old-heads criticizing his generation of rappers and then trying to mooch off his wealth. He’s fed up with 300 Entertainment not acknowledging his value and the plaques he brings into their office. He's fed up with fake people who are only around him for his clout and lastly, he’s fed up with broke rappers. Tee finds himself rapping entire verses in a satisfying pocket when he is emotional and that is absolutely the case on “Add Me Up”.
After a minor dip in quality, the album ends of a high note. The second to last song “Preach” is Tee at his most honest and vulnerable. The track is a mix between a tell-all (“Them Detroit niggas want me to keep that same flow/But that ain't what get them millions, I can't, bro”) and a lyrical showcase (Blue faces on me, bust down, little thottie/I was pushin' foreigns through the East before Gotti).
The final track “Young Grizzley World” features A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and YNW Melly. Both artists add a lot to this track with YNW Melly stealing the spotlight due to his long hook, intriguing intro, and melancholy third verse. The song is slower and reflective and the pain is palpable in the voices of all three emcees.
On Scriptures, Tee Grizzley sticks to the same formula that allowed him to blow up and continue to sell records for three years running. His brutal honesty mixed with his gangster lifestyle and menacing stanzas all adds up to Tee’s patented style and is something he does very well. With this being said, Grizzley has put himself in a box that allows him to only execute this kind of music. Any deviation or creative exploration seems to compromise the brand and identity he has built and would seem out of pocket. Due to this reason, Tee is not very versatile, making his music sound repetitive. This is less of a problem on Scriptures than it has been on his past releases which are steps in the right direction but the issue still exists on his newest release. I think he could’ve combatted this problem by tapping into his surplus of respected rappers in his network and featuring more artists. While Tee can handle songs on his own this may have made some tracks on this project more memorable.
Although Tee’s classic style is sometimes repetitive, Scriptures is his best complete body of work yet and showcases precise execution down to minute details. His storytelling is engulfing and if you are a fan of his music you won’t find a bad track on this album. Tee remains one of the best storytellers in the game and is no doubt one of the most honest emcees rapping right now.
Stream the album below.
Reviewed: Mitch Darrell