Benjamin Laub, best known in hip-hop circles as Grieves is a Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who with the release of his first four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves — has managed to achieve critical and commercial success; in fact, 2011’s Together/Apart debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200.
His Chords-produced fifth, full-length album Running Wild was released earlier this year through renowned indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and if you had been frequenting this site around then, you’d recall that album single “What It Dew” found the Seattle-based emcee focusing on succeeding against all odds, despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — i.e., dope production and dope emcee paired together.
Running Wild’s latest single “A-Okay” features yet another soulful production consisting of stuttering drum programming, twinkling organ, a sinuous bass line and warm blasts of guitar paired with an infectious hook but at its core is a call to celebrate and live life with urgency and passion as the song finds the renowned Seattle-based emcee essentially saying “life is short, and sometimes we gotta turn this motherfucker out and cherish the small things” because ultimately, life is about the small things: the smile of a potential lover at the club or at the bar, the drinks and bullshitting about music, life and art with friends, listening to your favorite song on your headphones or at your favorite bar, etc. And as a result, the song manages to feel appreciative, as its narrator recognizes how truly blessed they are to be alive and in the moment.
Directed by Ryan “Pants” Gross,” the recently released video for “A-Okay explores a series of carefree and fun situations through the eyes of a stereotypically miserable Debbie Downer type. As the renowned emcee comments, “Life is way too short to be mad at other people’s enjoyment. Go out and live a little, rent a hot tub boat, get your butt touched, whatever…Just smile!”