Independent duo drops soulful three disc album


Image provided by Silverback Artist Management

They say hip-hop has five elements: DJ, MC, graffiti artist, break dancer and knowledge. One overlooked piece of the puzzle is the mixtape hustle.

The Grouch and Eligh, an independent California hip-hop duo, from the group called The Living Legends, released a triple album entitled “The Tortoise and the Crow” on Tuesday Feb. 18. What’s unique about it? Instead of slinging discs out of a car trunk like the independent hip hoppers before them, the album was entirely funded by a Kickstarter campaign. is a website where artists can pitch a project and consumers pledge money to help fund it. The Grouch and Eligh set up a goal of $50,000. By the end of their funding deadline, they had received $90,729 from 1,288 supporters.

The Grouch and Eligh have proved once again that being independent and professional isn’t just possible, but it’s an enviable position. There’s no record industry types to impress or share profits with, just fans and the music they asked for.

The first album of this three-piece campaign is a combined album with both the Grouch and Eligh contributing rhymes. It is solid, but the weakest of the three.

The singles with music videos were pulled from this first disc. These singles, like “Run,” were very light and poppy. “Run” seems like it would fit well on a Prius commercial.

The next disc is a solo effort by the Grouch, which is the best of the three. This album hits heavy. It’s engrossing and thoughtful. It can hang with any hip-hop.

The Grouch’s rhymes are positive and from the soul. He speaks about true life and shares wisdom. A common theme is the struggle to better oneself.

The beats on the Grouch’s album are great and create a strong harmony between the rhymes and music. Two notable and well-used samples are the soul sample from Darondo on “Good Man” and the reggae sample from Steel Pulse on “My Best Teacher.”

Eligh’s solo album was last. This album had solid rhymes, but it was more of a showcase of beats. There were a few instrumentals on here and overall, the production was eclectic and unafraid of risks.

One instrumental, “Paid the Price,” was a snappy drum and bass type beat with hypnotizing jazz horns. “My God Song” was a flip on a Fugees’ classic. It contained the original sample from “I Only Have Eyes For You,” a sample from the Fugees’ “Zealots” and had a sharp rhyme scheme.

Overall, this triple album probably could have been condensed into one 15-track hip-hop classic, but the duo decided to throw all their colors on the canvas, and it was a good decision. They displayed their range and gave he fans that pledged money good value.

This grassroots funding is opening doors for underground artists. Music buffs are always complaining that the good bands get overlooked while undeserving acts are the ones getting airtime on the radio. Now any act with a legitimate buzz has a chance to record.

On the artist’s side, this grassroots funding may make artists think twice about signing that record deal. It allows for complete creative control, and more importantly, an environment that breeds brand loyalty. Fans who pledge to projects feel somewhat responsible for making it happen. It makes it a community project.

The Grouch and Eligh are setting examples of what hip hop can do with the internet age.