Now Reading
Old Grape God digs in on EATING OVER THE TRASH

Old Grape God digs in on EATING OVER THE TRASH

From the opening bars of EATING OVER THE TRASH, the new self-produced album from Old Grape God, the pressure is mounting. If you’ve been counting, it’s the Portland rapper’s staggering 41st release, and that number is itself a testament to the truth of the project’s emotional core, which is learning how to balance the external pressures of life by exerting equal and opposite pressure back outwards. For Old Grape God, that outward pressure is the act of creation, a positive force which allows the artist to maintain an equilibrium with their environment.

If all the talk of unseen pressures sounds fairly abstract, it’s because it is, but what makes EATING OVER THE TRASH compelling is that it centers the body of the rapper as the locus of all those abstract forces. “They say listen to your body, I woke up in a pool of sweat/Went straight to making this beat, I gotta go till there’s nothing left,” raps Grape God on “LISTEN 4 YOUR BODY,” making the stakes of the endeavor abundantly clear. As he says on “MOUNTAIN ON MY SHOULDERS:” “Do or die, there isn’t a secret third option.”

In this context, it seems particularly important that the album is self-produced. The sonic palette is wide-ranging, moving between periods of sparse abstraction, as on “LIFER” or “TYPEKAST,” and high-energy grooves, as on “CURB YOUR RAPPETITE” or “DRAUGHT:KING.” Strange synths and interpolated samples provide a throughline, with conventional drum sounds placed in sequence alongside the clink of glasses, digital one-shots, and birdsong. The vocals are also intricately layered and often effected, and cut with snippets of dialogue, heightening the sense that this body contains multitudes.

In a landscape where art has been systematically devalued in favor of a marketable product, where the yawning gulf of AI promises to erase creative labor entirely, the biological reality of the artist becomes more important than ever. Whether eating off the raps or getting so caught up in the work that he forgets to eat, Old Grape God insists on his personhood through the lens of appetite

“Whole lotta things stuck in my digestive tract/I’m just tryna keep my neck attatched,” he raps on “STILL:PROCESSING.”  “I lost 15 pounds in the last five weeks, unintentionally,” he repeats on “CURB YOUR RAPPETITE.” “TYPEKAST” inverts the hook of Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean,” into the much starker: “Ain’t nobody broke as me, I’m just tryna make ends meet/Don’t you think it’s so refreshing how I’d rather do my thing than eat.”

Over and again, Old Grape God turns the trope of the starving artist inside out, at times sated, at times famished, but always fully and radically human. EATING OVER THE TRASH speaks in this way to a particular subset of weirdos and outcasts, of cooks and servers and musicians and painters, the nocturnal and nontraditional types who, standing hunched in the stark light of the fridge after a long shift or a night in the studio, pull something out, sniff it for the funk, and dig in.

See Also

Check out our review of Old Grape God’s previous project, CABERNET SAYER, here.