Few rappers get so closely associated as representatives of their cities as Tee Grizzley has after his ground shaking single, “First Day Out.” It was so personal and so ‘Detroit’ that people were instantly drawn to him and his story. We’ve finally got his debut album to hopefully get the full picture of who Tee Grizzley is as an artist and as a person. Instead of going all in on the formula that thrust him into the spotlight, he tries to juggle authenticity and commercialism, and it doesn’t always find the mark. He even goes so far to include not one, but two Chris Brown features and employs auto-tune on a number of songs here. It’s basically an industry norm these days but they are some of the weakest points on the album. He trades on ‘realness’ and when he focuses on delivering authentic, photographic verses, Activated really starts to find it’s stride. While Activated is still full of bangers and hard-hitting rhymes, it at times feels like he trying to escape his image as a ‘street level’ rapper and tap into more commercial success – which is understandable, but it’s not when he’s at his best.
“I’m like a kid before Christmas night
Who ain’t never had none in his life, like
This really my life with zero exaggeration
Some niggas just elevated, got me feelin’ activated
Lost a lot in them cells and cages but held on to my dedication
The money got me fascinated, saw that shit and got activated”
Have you heard Activated? What’d you think about it? Do you think he tried to go too commercial? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your own ratings and reactions to the album.