Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Danny Reisch at Good Danny's, Austin, Texas
The treachery that burns out of real life is never expected and can never be predicted. If it was or could be, we'd just side-step it every time. There are those who enjoy the dramatic flourishes of chaotic moments and they like to feel the boundaries get tested and the seams get stretched, but the novelty of hard, exhausting, demoralizing and shit-taking days wears off. At some point, even those inclined to find amusement in always getting beat upon and used, grow tired of the messiness of it all and just wish for some kind of stability, some sort of tranquility. They grow bummed about being so paranoid, about having to make everything work out. They grow tired of picking up the pieces, dealing with loss and having to act as if everything were fine. They get battered by negative thoughts and inferences, battered until they just become jaded and hard. They can't deal with another day of hustling for respect, or enough money to have a meal that night. They seek comfort in the few people who stand by them, who give them hope.
Philadelphia's Grande Marshall is a young man who has had to adjust to an impartial real world that's been littered with hardship and disappointment. When he raps, you hear this in every line. You hear that the struggle is still fresh and he's being strong about it, but there are plenty of parts to the story that are tender and will always be tender. There are instances that are always going to throb painfully. He knows where they are, where he's hidden them - as much out of view as he can, but like a sore muscle - a pull or a strain -- he rubs over those moments, believing that he can work the hurt out. They just never seem to get much better, even with the luxury of time.
When he offers, "Like my mama said, 'You ain't shit boy,'" we're taken to a place that is dark as hell. It's a place that you don't bring up anywhere other than a bedroom, or in a song. Anywhere else is just too vulnerable. It's a thought, a phrase that must reverberate through a young man's head and, no matter what he was like, he couldn't have deserved such belittling. He makes himself into a man who's bound and determined to prove that ignorance, that compassionless bullshit wrong. He'll sneak in the backdoor if he has to, but he's determined to make something of himself.
Grande Marshall songs are about staying afloat when everyone's so quick to tie blocks of cement to everyone else's ankles, just to watch them sink. It's the kill or be killed mentality that Grande Marshall talks about - that grand and selfish notion that it's either me or it's you going down - and it's incredible how few winners there are when that game's played. Grande Marshall will win.
Grande Marshall Official Site