BioA veteran of the subterranean hip-hop scene for nearly a decade, Grand Agent has long earned the respect of his peers from Philly and far beyond, courtesy of his trademark gritty voice coupled with articulate, streetwise and soulful poetics.
Now, after three acclaimed albums under his belt, two years spent in Germany soaking up musical concepts and a renewed commitment to give his fans innovative music, Grand Agent releases Under The Circumstances, a ten track explosion of superior rhymes and narratives.
Even better, the entire album is produced by West Coast beatmaking phenomena and Quasimoto brethren, Oh No who blesses the Philly-bred Grand Agent with a diverse bevy of beats which run the gamut from old-school ‘golden age’ style hip-hop to classic soul sample to electronic, synth infused club bangers.
An understatement to say the least—from start to finish, Under The Circumstances is a virtual testament to the notion of a complete and varied hip-hop album with no shortcomings and plenty of heat. In other words: an album that fuses gangsta’ with consciousness; battle-rap laden warnings with powerful tales about life in ‘Ghetto USA’; a decidedly East Coast sensibility with one of the West Coast’s most promising producers.
High praise indeed coming from Agent, who first broke onto the scene in 1994 with a North Central Philly-based group called ‘Name,’ with whom he released five records. After going solo and releasing a critically heralded album on Groove Attack, By Design, Agent, however, was still unsatisfied with where he was musically and in terms of his fan base, so he set off for Germany, where his sales had been flourishing and where Groove Attack’s headquarters were based.
“It was one of the best thing I ever did,” he reflects. “I told myself I was gonna only stay for about two years, but it was a mad healthy stage. I was doing mad gigs. It allowed me to experience all of these cities and environments and people I would never have known otherwise.”
Out of this experience evolved Fish Out of The Water, Agent’s album recorded in Germany, a fascinating mix of cultural influences and homegrown ghetto gospel featuring production from Chops and DJ Revolution. Still unsatisfied, Agent and Groove Attack parted ways and Agent moved back home where he linked with fledgling indie label Soul Spazm who’s subsequently heard a few new tracks Agent had recorded and wanted to sign him immediately.
As for Under The Circumstances, one, cursory listen and you’ll realize that it’s virtually certain to propel Agent towards that delicate balance of artistic truth and commercial success he desired and which has been mastered by only a few MC’s.
“I feel like I’ve spoken my story enough. That’s why I wanted to open up with this album,” Grand Agent reflects. “This is about me being a respected lyricist and an effective song maker. It was about just making good hip-hop songs.”