Grandson gets his hands ‘Dirty’ calling for social action


Elf Plus Productions Photography / CC BY

Grandson’s newest song is a call for social action and change.

Elena Eaton, Lead Cartoonist

Jordan Edward Benjamin debuted as artist “Grandson” in 2016, though it wasn’t until June of 2018 with EP “A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1” that his career skyrocketed. Featuring classic tracks such as “Blood//Water” and “Overdose,” the Canadian-American singer quickly established himself as a proponent of change in the alternative rock genre.  

Synthesizing hard bass riffs, trap elements and socially “woke” lyrics, Grandson raises awareness of current social, political and racial injustices through his music. Two years and 15 singles later, Grandson is mere weeks away from releasing his highly-anticipated debut album “Death Of An Optimist.”

Set to release on Dec. 4 of this year, “Death Of An Optimist” tackles the uncertainty and inaction of 2020 through 12 recorded tracks. Pre-released tracks three, five and nine—“Identity,” “Dirty” and “Riptide” respectively—set the stage for a politically-charged, electronically-infused album whose dark tone and fast-paced tempo match this year’s rapid progression of fateful events. As phrased by Grandson, “Death Of An Optimist” is “both an origin story and an obituary navigating hope, anxiety and the state of optimism in 2020.”

Grandson’s “Dirty” premiered Sept. 23 as the only featured song on “Death Of An Optimist.” Immediately, the song’s strong bass riff and Grandson’s husky voice captivate the listener, asking “Is it time to lead or is it time to die?” 

Maintaining intrigue, the eight-beat tempo persists, joined by drums, electronic elements and echo effects after the line, “Is there anybody out there that’s paying attention?” Already, Grandson calls into question the course of action taken by Americans in lieu of this year’s calamitous events.  

Grandson continues in this interrogation-esque manner and asks, “Is it time to speak up or time for silence? / Time for peace, or is it time for violence?” Characteristic of Grandson’s music, political themes arise. Though open to interpretation, these lines likely allude to the recent activity of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Once again, Grandson questions the reaction of inaction shown in response to present circumstances.

Grandson’s music video for “Dirty” offers crucial insight into these layered meanings. In the video, Grandson is both the interrogator and the interrogated. This duality mimics the criticisms of his audience; specifically, it addresses who should be held accountable. Holding the course taken by leaders of our nation to the same degree of scrutiny as action taken by citizens, Grandson toys with the concept of blame for current affairs.  

Culminating this line of thought in his chorus, Grandson asks, “Do you have enough love in your heart / To go and get your hands dirty?”  Referring to the age-old adage “talk doesn’t cook rice”, “Dirty” addresses the difference in complaint about the state of events and action to change them.  

Grandson acknowledges the stain inaction has been on the fabric of our country this year and urges his audience to wipe their hands clean of criticism without action. Through uptempo beats and alternative sounds that literally “rock”, “Dirty” conveys this message flawlessly.  So, if you enjoy politically-charged, trap-influenced alternative rock, consider giving Grandson’s newly-released track “Dirty” a listen.