Last year, the grimy and guttural Buffalo rap crew Griselda — the team of Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, and Benny The Butcher — finally released the album WWCD, their long-awaited official debut for Eminem’s Shady Records. Remarkably, Griselda kept their old aesthetic perfectly intact. The album was nothing but nasty, ugly crime-life raps over lurching discordant beats, often without anything resembling a chorus. They did absolutely nothing to court radio play. And they somehow propelled themselves into their own corner of the rap mainstream anyway.
Earlier this month, Griselda unveiled a video for “Dr Birds,” the lead WWCD single, that was directed by the rap-video mastermind Hype Williams. And last night, the trio appeared on The Tonight Show to perform that very same song. It probably shouldn’t work. “Dr Birds” is, after all, a song that’s mostly about dealing drugs and killing people. But apparently the FCC doesn’t have rules about rapping about dealing drugs and killing people on network TV, and it didn’t even sound all that unnatural when the Griselda guys deleted their own cusswords. So what we got on TV was a relatively bracing and undiluted version of the whole Griselda experience.
The three rappers performed with their regular producer Daringer working as DJ. I wonder if the Roots were bummed that they didn’t get to perform with the crew. It was the right call, though. More musicians onstage would’ve only detracted attention from Westside Gunn’s whole pink-and-green coat/pink beanie/insane amount of diamonds situation, which certainly made a statement. Watch the performance below.
WWCD is out now on Shady Records. I guess the Griselda guys gave Jimmy Fallon some pizza.