Interview conducted by: FLEX
Grafh's early years were spent in a climate submerged in the infamous crack wars of the 1980s. Attempting to avoid these pitfalls, a young Grafh took on rhyming as a past time. Unfortunately, street life would take charge in a way he never expected. A neighborhood mentor was gunned down right in front of him; following that, he witnessed his fathers murder. With two close and sudden losses, Grafh was caught in a blend of mourning, rage, revenge, and a sense of providing a life for him and his mother. A rough time indeed, but he believed in the adage, "God never gives a burden too heavy to carry or overcome." Grafh hit the rap circuit on a mission and it wasn't long before word of Grafhs raw talents reached the office of Black Hand Entertainment, a Jamaica, Queens based record label with strong street ties.
What up homie? Its been a long time...when is the album coming out?
Grafh: Well, I leaked the album online first...so people can get an affinity for Grafh and what the kid has to offer to the game. So its available for download right now. But its slated for in store release July 24th, but its ill cause I'm getting some other offers.. because of the response online, ya know some companies wanna do business and I'm like hey lets talk, I like them kind of numbers..so we'll see what happens.
You were on Rocafella? What happened from that situation to this one?
Grafh: Nah, I was never signed to Rocafella...I'm glad you asked that. What it was.. I was hollerin at Dash, we was in talks so I was gonna sign to the Roc-- Dash issued a press release stating that Blackhand signed with Rocafella. We did the deal on a hanshake cause Dame's a real nigga...so...in the mix of that, Dame and Jay parted ways..so, I was never officially an artist on Rocafella Records.
Myspace jumpoff. What made you wanna do that? And what is the reaction to that song?
Grafh: It was crazy...it grew organically online so fast that MTV contacted me and I went on MTV and discussed the record and that forced me to shoot a video for it. And MTV added it instantly, so I was in rotation all from this record...so.
You're down with Blackhand Entertainment and everybody knows that 50 cent is not fond of the CEO Chaz? Do u have any beefs w/ 50?
Grafh: Nah, no problems or beef with 50 Cent. I don't know him. Chaz used to manage him. They had their issues or whatever, but its more street than anything. So I don't wanna get into all that, but, for the record it was never a "problem". If it was, it woulda been handled. But no issues, it is what it is....
You been on the underground for a minute. Why not sign w/ a major?
Grafh: The plan is always to maintain independence whether we sign with a major or not. We have our own everything. All we would need is the label money. Other than that, we don't need anything they have to offer. We are a self contained unit. They are like investors or loan officers to me....naw mean? We can do it ourselves..just like Fat Joe is doing and Jim Jones with 'Ballin"-- and now Grafh w/ Blackhand.
What producers did you work with on this album?
New and fresh producers. I'ma big fan on giving people a new sound.
You're from Queens, however you're music is not trapped into the "New York" sound. Was this intentional?
Grafh: I do what the music tells me to do. If I get a west coast track, I may put that flavor on it. I don't hone on anything or any region specifically. I don't chase anything or audiences. I just try to make hot music.
Damage is Done and Food are my favorite joints, are they on the album?
Grafh: Nah.. super-fresh material. Whatever joints I gave yall, yall can keep that. Damage is Done was a real personal record. I witnessed my fathers murder. That was the first time I rapped about that shit...but, everything on the album is new.
Grafh is a lyrical dude. Do u feel this is missing from the game?
Grafh: Well, its supposed to be there. Like that's what its about, lyrics. I mean I like to party and have a good time too. I need to be inspired again. That's what's missing. Subject matter and content. We supposed to be moving forward musically but ima bring it back.
Who are u checking for? Besides yaself.
Grafh: Lil Wayne is keeping it fresh. Andre 3000 is hot...T.I. doing his thing....alota dudes.
Why do albums these days disappoint consumers?
Grafh: That's why I leaked the album online. I wanted to make a classic album so people can feel the experience. Not just a few songs, but the whole thing. Like I'm the best chef in the city, how are you gonna know that I'm the best chef if I don't give you a plate to taste? That's why I did it....so niggas can hear the consistency.
What's the hardest thing about being an MC these days?
Grafh: Nothing. Being an MC comes easy to me...I do that. But as far as being an artist in this game...its full of fake niggas and snakes and I don't fit in with that scene. If I did then I'd probably be a millionaire already...but i just blend with em. They speak another language.. its no honor...they don't mean what they say--no loyalty...like its smoke and mirrors and bunch and fake ass niggas. Paperwork gangstas. That's the industry.
What do you want the world to know about Grafh?
That I am still a fan of the music. The same guy that downloads my album,
I'm just like he is. I have problems and stresses and all that. Most the time
I'm in a bad mood. I represent the average dude in the struggle and I'm not
one of those fake ass rappers that put on an "image" and all that.
I represent something real. If you ever been through any pain or difficult
situation, you can appreciate what I'm trying to give you...if not, then download
the shit and enjoy it anyway. (laughs).