Griselda Records and East Coast Hip Hop
by Giovanni Bonilla, Form VI
3 min. read — November 2, 2021
Hip hop is a beloved genre of music by many, as it constantly draws in large numbers on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud. It originated in the Bronx, New York City during the 1970s, and from it emerged different subgenres that would begin to gain traction as time went on; one of these subgenres is East Coast Hip Hop. It was originally what mainstream rap is today back in the 1970s, as it was the first strand of rap that sprouted from its rise. Something that separates this subgenre from other styles of rap is its complex lyricism that is meant to be more of a focus than a beat that you can nod your head to, as it focuses on certain topics such as dealing with hard times and political issues. During the 1990s, also known as “The Golden Age of Hip Hop”, the rivalry between East and West Coast rappers emerged when both Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton released, which presented the toughest sound of West Coast Hip Hop. However, during this period, several New York rappers were on the rise from the local underground scene such as Nas and The Notorious B.I.G., as well as others. Records released by them that reminded the world that East Coast Hip Hop was still a force to be reckoned with included Illmatic and Ready to Die respectively. Now, while all of these artists remain integral to the growth of both East and West Coast Hip Hop, there have been certain groups that played a large role in East Coast Hip Hop’s popularity that do not get as much attention, such as Griselda Records.
Based in Buffalo, New York, Griselda Records is a hip hop collective and record label that was founded by rappers Conway the Machine, his brother Westside Gunn, and Mach-Hommy back in 2012. While only releasing their extended play Don’t Get Scared Now in 2016 and debut album WWCD in 2019, they have made a lot of noise in the East Coast Hip Hop scene individually. Conway for example received a lot of attention for his dark lyricism and audacious character on his solo debut album From King to a God in late 2020, as it peaked at number 25 on the Billboard US Independent Albums, as well as number 1 on the Billboard US Heatseekers Albums. The same would go for his paternal half-brother Westside Gunn, who received widespread critical acclaim on his third solo album Pray for Paris, which peaked at number 9 on Complex’s Top 50 Albums of 2020, as well as number 67 on the Billboard 200. He also announced on November 14, 2020 that he was leaving Shady Records after saying that he had fulfilled his contractual obligations. As with the cousin of both Conway and Westside, Benny the Butcher saw the most success off his second studio album Burden of Proof, which ended up peaking at number 14 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums, as well as number 27 on the Billboard 200. Since their creation in 2012, Griselda has seen the inclusion of new members including Boldy James, Armani Caesar, Mach-Hommy, YN Billy, Rome Streetz, and Daringer. As time goes on, this collective continues to make noise and assert their presence in the hip hop industry, and it is only a matter of time until they become a staple in the history of this genre.