Sounds like: A chopped-and-screwed street-corner prophet trying to reveal the secrets of the universe after taking one too many Xanax.
For fans of: Mac Dre, DJ Screw, Earl Sweatshirt, Sa-Ra Creative Partners.
Why you care: Grape God was born the day the world was supposed to end: Dec. 21, 2012, the date of the Mayan apocalypse that wasn't. That's when Anthony Burgundy—"Tron" to his friends—recorded "Snaps Jazzwave," the first song off his debut EP, Time Travel. He'd only recently started rapping, but in three takes established the woozy, heavily medicated drawl and free-form lyricism that'd mark the five projects he's released since. All he needed was an alias to brand it with. "Grape" was a given: The dude really loves the color purple. As for the Kanye-style self-deification, Burgundy insists it's not the product of a typical overinflated hip-hop ego.
"For the shit I'm talking about, I've got to be a god," says the 23-year-old MC and visual artist from a bench in the North Park Blocks, where he's dressed like a walking lavender bloom, a homemade leather medallion inscribed with the words "Buy Art" dangling from his neck. What exactly it is he's talking about often gets lost in his syrupy, offbeat flow, which is just as well: Burgundy—which, it should be said, is not his true last name—is big on building mystery. But for those willing to do the decoding, there are revelations embedded in his lyrics waiting to be unraveled. "I want to talk about what it means to be human," Burgundy says. "I want to cut through all the boxes and filters that people use to separate themselves."
And hey, even if you're not up for digging into the stream-of-consciousness abstractions, the music is still good for a nice head trip. Like the Houston screw music he admires, there is a narcotizing effect to the sound of Grape God, a combination of main collaborator Skelli Skell's hallucinogenic production and Burgundy's slurred delivery, which he describes as an attempt at blending two disparate influences, Gil Scott-Heron and the late Bay Area rap legend Mac Dre. For Portland's backpack-sporting traditionalists, it might not sound much like hip-hop at all. But then, what's a genre to a god? "I'm incredibly confident in my shit, because I feel I'm 100 percent honest in how I sound," Burgundy says. "I fear no other fucking rapper. Nobody can take shit from me."