After feeling like he was being taken advantage of by his old group, Seattle-by-way-of-Chicago rapper Grieves, a.k.a. Benjamin Laub, was unsure of what to do>"/>
After feeling like he was being taken advantage of by his old group, Seattle-by-way-of-Chicago rapper Grieves, a.k.a. Benjamin Laub, was unsure of what to do next. Enter Siddiq, co-founder of Rhymesayers Entertainment. A few phone calls and one "freak out dance" from Laub later, he had landed a deal with the Minneapolis-based company, also home to artists like Atmosphere and Brother Ali.
We chatted with Laub and got the lowdown on "On The Rocks," off his third album as a Rhymesayers artist, Together/Apart, before he takes the stage, along with Grayskul, Sadistik and Th3rdz, at the "P.O.S. Needs a New Kidney Benefit" at the Crocodile on Saturday.
The Video: When asked where the "On The Rocks" video was shot, Laub jokingly says "The moon." By "the moon," he means around Los Angeles, including a park featured in an episode of "American Horror Story," though Laub says that the City of Angels feels just as foreign.
After Laub's treatment for "On The Rocks," which involved him interacting with different freeze-frame scenarios, only to have those scenarios finish out as the song's hook played, received an $80,000 quote from a potential director ("Who the fuck has 80 grand to film a music video?" Laub asks), he gave the reins to director Dugan O'Neal.
"It does pertain to the song much more than I think I wanted it to but it's very realistic," Laub says of O'Neal's treatment. "It's not me doing some crazy shit. It's a very human approach to the song."
Laub and his scruffy co-stars, Kyle Mooney, who you may recognize as a member of YouTube comedy trio Good Neighbor, and Wyatt Denny, were strangers until they met on set, though Laub and Mooney became fast friends.
Both Mooney and Denny arrived looking how they appear in the video so Laub was convinced that they were homeless and was surprised to find out that they are both accomplished actors.
Laub's good friend and frequent collaborator Budo makes a cameo near the end of the video as a "sex dealer." Laub isn't fond of the music video aspect of making music and says that having a familiar face on set makes the process more bearable.
"It's nice to have his support and a familiar person that you can joke around with or laugh at and he can honestly laugh at you just being like 'You look like a fucking idiot right now,'" he explains. "It kind of brings you down to Earth, you know?"
Why So Serious?: Though the "On The Rocks" video did not turn out how Laub originally visualized, he is proud of the video because it added what he says is much needed humor to his music, which is oftentimes quite serious.
"It's important to bring a little bit of charisma and fun and humor, even to serious things, because the most serious, fucked up thing that's happening right now probably isn't the most catastrophic thing in the world, it's just affecting your heart and your mind right now," he says. "Maybe a year from now, you're going to look back at it and kind of see it silly, so I think it's important to not forget your humor."
Laub admits that the video didn't necessarily capture his personality but says that he appreciates O'Neal and his treatment for making him take a small step out of his comfort zone and into a visual direction he may not have otherwise gone.
For the Love of P.O.S.: Laub understands the somewhat iffy connotation of the phrase "benefit show" and wants people to know that this show will be just like any other Grieves show, with the addition of a keyboard player and guitarist. The only exception is that all of the money from ticket sales and any donations they receive will go directly to fellow Rhymesayers artist P.O.S., who is in need of a kidney transplant.
"Your ticket, the thing that you would buy anyways, is the contribution. Take away the benefit show [aspect] -- Would you buy the ticket? Yeah? Well then buy the ticket," he says. "It's the same show; you're going to have a good time. No one's going to preach to you ... I don't want to scare people off with the benefit show thing.
"I think this is a great opportunity to help somebody out that helped me out greatly," Laub continues. "[P.O.S.] was always there and helping guide me. This is the time when I can give back and lend a little help his way."