In the world of hip-hop no one ever gets to see the side of every artist when they are outside of their role as a performer. A performer’s true self is, more often than not, shrouded in the guise of the ever so common bling-bling, the sports cars, rims, women, money and so forth. Enter Grafh; one of music’s rising renaissance men. Grafh’s success is far from a secret in the entertainment role. Whether you’ve heard of his Black Hand label or if you’ve seen him on television with Dame Dash taping the ultimate hustler show on BET, Grafh’s name has been synonymous with success and as the hood puts it: grind.
Just coming from a photo shoot, for the cover of his soon to be released debut album “Autografh”, we caught up with Grafh to talk about life, music, and his goals for the two. While speaking to him I slowly realized that there is a thin line, if any, between his role as an artist or as a man in society. “Autografh” is set to be a not just an ordinary debut album, but a very introspective piece. From top to bottom it will mark the official introduction of Grafh into the game, his John Hancock if you will.
“I take you through a journey through my whole life as a youth growing up to being a grown ass man now”
This won’t be an album with a target demografhic (pun intended) as he puts it…
“I make music for every one”
The rap Michael Jackson… Big shoes to fill but if anyone had the feet to do it, it could be him.
When asked about the album’s production, second to his lyrics, this is probably where he takes most of his pride in. He wasn’t going after all big name producers or all the hot ones. He went after people he believed in as people and as producers. Above all of their abilities he labels the producers as musicians, which is pretty rare in hip-hop. To often do you find a “producer” who doesn’t take the time out to appreciate music for what it is. The album’s soundscape is forged by Developed, Yogi, Kool & Dre, and Ronin.
“If you appreciate good music you’ll appreciate this”
The album wasn’t created to go with any set formula. Grafh makes it a point not to deal with the ideas of formulas. Pointing out the mix tape game he explains to me that that formula has been used and abused. “Mix tapes nowadays are trash”. We all come to terms with that same notion when we buy some of these mix tapes. They lack originality, direction, and emotion. Grafh’s reasoning for doing his mix tapes?
“To keep my buzz, I make like a song a day with no place to put it but the streets”
The reason he did this album? He did it for the fans of his music. This ties into his most memorable moment in making this album. At a show he leaked the song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” on stage to give the crowd new material. After the show people came to him and thanked him for that song.
“Getting a reaction from the people is satisfying, when they feel what I felt when I wrote the song…”
What about the notion that there are no fans in the world anymore, referring to the song on the emcee’s (Jin) latest release?
“There are fans, but is sucks if you’re not a leader. If you can’t influence the minds of those that follow you its hard. Be a trendsetter and people will follow what you do. I’m a fan. I like music in my c.d. player right now you can find bands like audio slave, and U2, if I’m feeling Jazzy I’ll throw is some Miles Davis. I hardly listen to rap because everyone coming out is garbage.”
Grafh had 100% control over this album which is an added testament to his versatility as an artist, musician, and business man. Manned with his own photographers, van’s rappers, singers, engineers, and producer’s everything on this album is self contained and deeply rooted in the blackhand family.
The future for this artist/business man seems far from being a “one hitta quitta”. With a clothing line and modeling company in the works its going to be a nice year for Grafh as he positions himself to get his own seat in the billionaire boys club. He is also in the works to develop and release artists such as Shalone, Orbit, Prinz, and Don Palmer.
Grafh thanks all his fans and supporters that have been there since day one and all who have signed onto him recently. Dedicating his music partly to them, because they recognize the pain and struggle which is a universal language. To learn more and hear more from Grafh you can visit his myspce.com page ( www.myspace.com/grafhblackhand) or his website ( www.grafh.com). Autografh is slated to his stores in the spring or 2006.
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