The Grapes of Wrath: 03 Greedo Drops a Classic

03 Greedo returns with the excellent 'The Wolf of Grape Street.' Rosecrans Vic breaks it down.
By    March 20, 2018

Rosecrans Vic once remixed McConaughey doing his chest pound thing.

A wolf’s primordial howl is its chief method of communication. Some howls are confrontational, some are blood-curdling, some are messages sent to nearby packs for territorial purposes. Wolves grow up living and hunting in packs or gangs, they roam large distances in search of prey, and when they are successful, they don’t eat in moderation. 03 Greedo is a wolf.

Greedo is a rapper, singer, and producer who grew up primarily in Watts and Gardena, California. He’s lived in St. Louis, Kansas City, Sacramento, and Atlanta. He bounced around different middle and high schools across LA, institutions ranging from esteemed private schools like Verbum Dei to rowdy public schools like Gardena High School.

While he lived in several sections, the-then 14-year old Greedo settled into the Jordan Downs housing projects in 2000. It became his turf from then on, no matter where he roamed. Shortly thereafter, he became the Jordan Belfort of Jordan Downs, joining The Grape Street Crips, (somewhat) assimilating into the pack, and earning money through savvy and street pharmacy. 

The name Greedo evolved from his previous rap moniker, Greedy Giddy. One doesn’t obtain a nickname like Greedy because they let up.  03 derives from three different sources: His neighborhood is located on the intersection of 103rd Street and Grape Street, his father died at the age of thirty (03 backwards), and as a result of  self-diagnosed schizophrenia, he claims to have three personalities.

One personality is the wolf, the aggressive rapper. Second, is the Ice-Man, dubbed after the Netflix movie of the same name about a silent hit-man, who Greedo  likens himself to as a producer creating hits. The third, Buzzy The P, is an older gentleman from Watts. Buzzy is an eccentric, smooth-talking figure with a British accent who’s explored the entire world; he’s very wise, but also won’t hesitate to clown another rapper for weeks on Instagram. Think Richard Branson on a lifelong cocaine binge.

Under the name Greedy Giddy, you can still find six projects, multiple videos, over fifty songs, and even an obscure lo-fi interview dating back to 2010 which shows that even back then  Greedy had his whole career planned out. According to Greedo, he was loosely affiliated with the Pushaz Ink movement, the underground label that included a young YG, DJ Mustard, Ty Dolla $ign, Teecee4800, PC, Tay F. 3rd, and others who were active during the Jerking Movement in LA from 2008-2011.

Though he’s always been on the outskirts of the underground LA scene, his involvement in illegal activity precluded him from gaining sustainable career traction. He’s been in and out of incarceration since 17, catching two gun charges and two burglary charges. He’s currently battling a drug trafficking case and gun case in Texas, stemming from his arrest in late June of 2016. Despite years of imprisonment and intermittent homelessness, Greedo recorded a solid body of work noteworthy enough to start garnering him heavy buzz around the streets of Los Angeles.  

On July 26th, 2016 Greedo released, Purple Summer a 40 track project that produced two viral hits, each racking up over a million plays. There’s “Sweet Lady,” a self-produced track featuring a sweet sped-up female vocal sample (which sounds a lot like Keyshia Cole) paired with an acidic melody from Greedo that burns right through your speakers. “Mafia Business” is dedicated to fallen Watts figure Mafia Ray. Recorded on an old church mic in a home studio, it was originally intended to be played during Ray’s funeral only, but received so much local praise that he included it on the project as a bonus track.

In September of 2016, Greedo was shot in Watts, and nearly had to have his leg amputated. He went on to release another Purple Summer mixtape  titled Purple Summer 2: Son Don’t Shine on Halloween of 2016. It’s an admittedly depressive album which produced no significant hits. On December 2nd, 2016, his best-friend, who went by the rap name of Lil Money was murdered.

Then, on July 4th 2017 he released Money Changes Everything, which replaced Benjamin Franklin’s mug with Lil Money’s face on the hundred dollar bill as its artwork. The record served as a dedication to his fallen friend and featured two of his biggest songs to date: “Never Bend,” an anthemic self-confidence boosting ballad about never folding no matter how grim the circumstances, and “Beat That Thang Down,” a song that sounds like a vulgar robot using auto tune to croon his love towards other nasty-bots.

Three weeks after Money Changes Everything dropped, Greedo  was arrested by bounty hunters in relation to his Texas cases. Shortly thereafter, he  released the third installment of the Purple Summer trilogy titled, Purple Summer  03: Purple Hearted Soldier in late July. The artwork for this project was a real photo of Greedo in handcuffs being arrested and surrounded by these bounty hunters, tinted primarily in purple with Greedo brazen in bright blue.

Purple Hearted Soldier was named by Rolling Stone the 34th best album in their Top 40 albums of 2017 list and included perhaps Greedo’s  biggest single to date “Run For Yo Life.” The album catapulted him to the forefront of the underground hip-hop scene in LA, capped off with a show-stealing performance at The Echo on August 14th, which had nearly 300 people singing along to his catalogue of music.

His next project, First Night Out, was recorded within the first 24 hours after he was released from jail. The cover artwork is a photo of him walking out of the airport in slides and shorts, a free man. The project was released October 28th and produced even more hits including “Rude,” “Zoning,” “If I Part 2,” and “Tricc on Just Anybody.” After 150 songs released in a two year span, he signed a deal with Alamo Records, a division of Universal Music Group, for over $1 million dollars, according to Greedo.

The Wolf of Grape Street is Greedo’s initial public offering. His major label debut is a summation of his best songs to date, with fifteen new ones. He kicks off the project with his signature creep music. On “Drippin” Greedo howls, “This is how the wolf sounds, when he yells for ecstasy.” If Greedo is Jordan Belfort, Yung T.O. is Donnie Azoff, as the two continuously pop shit like stockbrokers would quaaludes on “Bacc To Bacc.” As Greedo big ups his producers RonRon and BeatBoy on “Baytoven,” the first chapter of the album—where the wolf was free to roam wild, aggressively howling at the moon—concludes.

As Greedo progresses into the rosey Stratton Oakmont stage of his project, he re-releases two of his biggest hits to date, “Beat That Thang Down” and “Run For Yo Life.” Buzzy The P makes his grand entrance on “Look At Me Now” with lyrics like “You know I always wanted to be a six figure n***a/ I signed a deal and got seven bitch/ ah-hah-hah-hah-hah.” This song had to have been recorded immediately after inking his deal with Alamo. The source of Greedo’s sheer jubilation and brashness must have been a comically large check.

The record is filled with unique features from other ascending California artists such as members from The Stinc Team. The Stinc’s are a group from South Central, L.A. comprised of de-facto leader Drakeo The Ruler, his brother Ralfy The Plug, Ketchy The Great, SaysoTheMac, Bambino, Good Finesse, Murrda Mellz, and more. Any great album typically comes equipped with solid guest features (unless you’re J. Cole) from new rising artists. The Chronic formally introduced the world to Snoop Dogg and The Wolf Of Grape Street does  the same with Ketchy The Great.

Featured on four songs, Ketchy’s vocal impact is undeniable. We haven’t heard a guttural voice like Ketchy’s since DMX. On “Vultures,” he sounds like Freddy Kreuger with a sore throat—a raspiness that would put Jadakiss to shame. It balances Greedo’s alto perfectly. OMB Peezy makes a cameo on “100 Bands” and spews some of the coldest bars of the year: “Hop out with my gun in hand/ Make you do the running man/ I just might kill your daddy/ For the shit that his son was sayin.”

“Safety” is the preamble for the poignancy to come. It elaborates on Greedo’s expanding paranoia, kicking dance floor grooves for those with a gun in their waist. “For My Dawgs” is a lone wolf’s howl to the moon as he mourns the losses of the fallen. “Substance” is my personal favorite for its sweet guitar riffs and production, (thanks to Fizzle and BeatBoy) coupled with Greedo’s syrupy singing: “We woke up, intoxicated off all type of drugs/ I’m never sober, when I’m in love.” Those lyrics capture the exact emotions one feels when waking up in a obscure hotel next to a woman, as you two get dressed to catch the free intercontinental breakfast before 11 AM.

“Never Bend” radiates the sound and feel of resilience. The instrumental was created during Greedo’s four night stay in the hospital after getting shot in the leg and having his shin replaced by a metal rod. When he howls, “I’m thanking God, could have died in the pen/ You haven’t been ‘gainst the odds like I been/ You haven’t been where I been/ I never fold, never bend,” the triumphant power in his lyrics radiates with thermonuclear power. 

Throughout The Wolf Of Grape Street, Greedo jaws at the competition while enjoying the fruits of his labor, but his encroaching paranoia is constant. The feds are in the cold conference room across from his office and are assembling a case against him. He has pending cases and is fully aware he can be put away for an extended amount of time.

Reports say he is facing two separate sentences; for his drug charge he faces 25 years to life, and for his gun case he is facing 2-20 years. His paranoid work ethic mirrors Tupac’s when he was on bail and anticipating death, except multiplied by 03. No matter what Greedo has done in his storied past, you can’t help but root for him. The ungulates are evil. The wolf is the hero. No howl ever supplied better music to your ears.

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