All the Whos down in Who-ville liked commercial hip-hop a lot. But The Grouch—who came up from the Oakland underground—did not. The Grouch hated commercial rap! During this and every other holiday season!
Now, you don't need to ask why—nobody knows the reason. It could be that his mish-mash mixes were screwed together just right. It could be, perhaps, that his rhymes were too air-tight. But the most likely reason of all may be that his love for hip-hop went way beyond Biggie Smalls.
Whatever the reason, his beats or his brain, he was one of the last rappers alive without a guest appearance from T-Pain. He'd stare down from the stage with an intense, Grouchy frown, lamenting the simplistic garbage bumping all over town. For he knew that every Who down in Who-ville beneath was busy putting platinum chains on hip-hop's funeral wreath.
“They don't really care about this music, they don't even know how to use this,” The Grouch snarled on albums (like Crusader for Justice) he made on the cheap. “I use this shit to get up, I use this shit to go to sleep!”
Then he growled, with the bass line in his head drumming, “I must find a way to keep hip-hop from succumbing!” For he knew that on Christmas all the Who girls and boys would wake up bright and early to crank that Ludacris noise. Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would plop down $15 for the latest album by Nelly and it wouldn't be long before their minds turned to jelly. Then they'd do something The Grouch liked least of all. Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, would stand close together, with “Pimp Juice” ringing. They'd stand hand-in-hand and the Whos would start singing! They'd sing! And they'd sing! SING! SING! SING! And the more The Grouch thought of the Whos singing songs by the Twins (Yang and Ying), the more The Grouch thought “I must stop this whole thing!”
He had been putting up with this junk for years now. He knew he must stop commercial rap from spreading—but how? Then he got an idea! An awfully good idea! The Grouch got a wonderful, awfully good idea!
“I know just what to do!” The Grouch laughed in his throat. And so he made songs that didn't have a sleek Timbaland coat. And he chuckled and clucked, “What a great Grouchy trick! With these rhymes, I'll sound just like Slick Rick!”
“All I need is support,” The Grouch said as he looked around. But since rappers are a dime a dozen, there was none to be found. Did that stop the old Grouch? No! The Grouch simply said, “If I can't find support, I'll help form the Living Legends instead.”
So he called his friends in the Mystic Journeymen (Sunspot Jonz and Luckyiam) and they filled the Living Legends with as many rappers as they could cram. He also released solo albums (Don't Talk to Me, Success is Destiny, Fuck the Dumb) and collaborations, too, working with everyone from Zion I and Eligh to Pigeon John and The Coup.
Then The Grouch went to the streets to take commercial rap down. He toured relentlessly, performing at clubs in every city and every town. With gritted teeth, he slithered and he slunk, selling albums out of his trunk. He looked at hip-hop and saw what he seen, a bunch of fools talking about a new American Dream. 50 Cent! Young Jeezy! And Lil' Jon! Ja Rule! Lil' Flip! And the Don Magic Juan! Then he slunk into each Who-house and he took the Whos' Lil' Wayne! He took the Chris Brown! He took the T-Pain! He erased their iPods as quick as a flash, he erased every last song about scoring hoes and smoking hash!
Over a cliff Dem Franchize Boyz he was ready to shove. Then he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove. He turned around fast and he saw a small Who. It was his baby girl, who by now is no more than 2. The Grouch was stunned by the birth of his daughter, like he'd been dunked in a bucket of cold water.
Her eyes stared up at The Grouch as if to cry, “Grouch, why do you care what those fake-ass rappers are doing? Why?”
Well, you know, The Grouch was smart and anything but slick and so he changed his attitude and changed his schtick. He no longer had to grovel behind a grumpy hip-hop name, he could just be Corey Scoffern and spit rhymes just the same.
He admitted his mistakes, realized he wasn't the Pope. So he plumbed his artistic depths on Heroes in the City of Dope. He no longer wanted to point fingers and pass the buck, so he stopped hating, started eating vegan and driving a vegetable oil-powered truck.
But he knew that a lot of Whos were still sleeping on his plan, so he started his own record label and called it Simple Man. It would take a Herculean effort to get hip-hop fans off the couch, but if Common could do it, then so could The Grouch.
And then he paused and put a hand to his ear and began to hear sounds that gave him cheer. It started low. Then it started to grow.
He stared down at Who-ville! The Grouch popped his eyes! Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing without any Lil' Jon at all!
He hadn't stopped commercial rap from spreading, it came just the same, but people were buying Sage Francis and The Game. The Grouch stood puzzling and puzzling 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grouch thought of something he hadn't before!
“Maybe hip-hop,” he thought “isn't just the stuff you buy at the store.”
“Maybe hip-hop—perhaps—means a little bit more!”
And what happened then? Well, in Who-ville they say, The Grouch's love of hip-hop grew three sizes that day! He realized the Whos could enjoy Akon and Mike Jones along with Atmosphere and MF Doom.
“Why the hell not?” The Grouch said to himself. “There's plenty of room.”
Now, he knew he probably wouldn't get on MTV or get rich. But he (HE HIMSELF!)—The Grouch—knew he had carved out his niche. The Grouch & Eligh of Living Legends perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22, with The Instant Messengers at 'Canes. 858-488-1780. www.therealgrouch.com.