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A Madison thing we’re listening to: Charles Grant’s “Twenty-Five”

The rapper’s latest release is all about things he wants to leave in the past.

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Photo by bumlifemeg.

Photo by bumlifemeg.

Charles Grant’s new release creates a world of deceit, substance abuse, and loneliness. The 11 songs of Twenty-Five make for a shadowy crawl through the Madison-based rapper’s life so far, and while it’s not a neat and tidy autobiography, it definitely gives you a sense of how experiences can drain away a person’s trust and illusions about the world.

“This project was me getting a lot of shit off my chest that I’m sick of rapping about,” Grant says. “I called it Twenty-Five for that reason. I want to leave it in the past.”

While Grant has been putting out music for several years now, this release gives us the clearest sense yet of where he’s going as an artist, even if this is territory he doesn’t intend to revisit. Grant’s hoarse, urgent delivery and tracks from five different producers indeed give this album the feeling of trying to come to terms with something dark and murky and come out the other side with some clarity and momentum. Grant produced the opening track, “Janis,” singing over an eerie, stretched-out waltz and setting what turns out to be a pretty consistent mood for the rest of the album.

On tracks like “White On White,” Grant is both victim and enabler: “Feedin’ these fiends since I was 13 / don’t matter where they at, I come through clean.”

The high point of the project might be “Poetic Visions Can’t Exist Without Dishonesty,” on which Grant lays his grizzled flow over a swelling, woozy beat from producer Highnotes. “Like I said, I turn your house to a trap / country boy got a place to bury that.” It’s a bleak picture, but there’s an ongoing effort here to lay bare how damaging and painful it is to live in the world Grant is describing. Twenty-Five isn’t easy to hear, but if Grant set out to purge some stuff on this record he definitely succeeded.

Grant continues to work on his next record, and plans to move to LA at the end of the year.

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