It only took something close to a decade, but Bloomfield's most charismatic indie hip-hop duo finally has its very own record deal. But not to worry, spoilsports: It's unlikely that Fighting Records, an ultra-tiny label based in Orlando, will be digging up air time for Lord Grunge and Grape-A-Don on MTV2 any time soon. Then again, it is possible that Five Years of Fireworks, which will be distributed far and wide by Lumberjack Mordam (farther and wider, at any rate, than the reaches of Paul's CDs and Grainbag.com), might fall into exactly the right hands. The hands of someone who, after popping in the disc and pressing play, instantly recognizes the indisputable truth of the promo blurb pasted onto the album's cover: "Grand Buffet -- the most slept-on force in indie hip-hop."
Wisely, for what may be the group's only shot at some semblance of mainstream success, it's chosen to steer largely clear of new material, and instead has remastered a best-of disc. It's still a bit of a gamble, though, because the fans most interested in a new Grand Buffet release have already heard almost all of these songs. The proverbial carrot, in case you're trying to decide whether Five Years is worth your money, is a DVD including roughly an hour of live footage, three videos and a brief interview. And while I hate to say it, aside from the videos, on which the audio, at least, is well produced, the DVD is a humongous piece of shit. Not only is much of the video footage washed out and grainy as hell, the audio is so poor that it's essentially pointless to watch with the volume on. One gets the sense that the only microphone Grand Buffet's various documentarians bothered to use was the tiny audio pickup on whichever handheld video camera was recording the show on any given day.
However! The CD, as anyone who owns Cigarette Beach or Sparkle Classic already knows, is pure genius: Grape-A-Don and Grunge's tongue-twisting verbal battles, horrifically cheap-sounding synthesizer music, pop beats that attach themselves to the inside of your frontal lobe for days like barnacles on the side of a rusty ship. And the quality of the audio, I'm happy to report, is essentially flawless.
So ... is the disc worth your money? Sure. Certainly, it's convenient to have Grand Buffet's best and brightest all in one place, and even though the quality of the DVD is embarrassingly poor, completists will no doubt get a kick out of seeing five-year-old footage of Jarrod and Jackson playing Pittsburgh house parties, or rocking a surprisingly large crowd at a Chicago nightclub. In all seriousness, I wish the incredibly hard-working Grand Buffet the hugest of successes. A brief note posted to the tour date section of the duo's Web site -- they're traveling from Los Angeles to the former Yugoslavia in the space of a month this summer -- says it best: "If we're not famous as fuck after all that bullshit, I'm thinking it's time for a sweet murder/suicide, Grand Buffet style."