GM Grimm: The Hunger For More

GM Grimm, perhaps better known as MF Grimm, has lived the life that many rappers can only write fictional rhymes about. Emerging in the early ‘90s, Grimm collaborated with Hip-Hop greats Kool G Rap, Akinyele, and KMD, to name a few. The rugged rapper even penned undisclosed parts of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic for West […]

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GM Grimm, perhaps better known as MF Grimm, has lived the life that many rappers can only write fictional rhymes about. Emerging in the early ‘90s, Grimm collaborated with Hip-Hop greats Kool G Rap, Akinyele, and KMD, to name a few. The rugged rapper even penned undisclosed parts of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic for West Coast rappers, while thriving on 12” releases. Quickly, Grimm was getting courted by labels, living as he rhymed it – immersed in the streets.

With the blast of the gun and the slam of the gavel, everything changed. Today, Grimm is confined to a wheelchair, and an ex-con in the eyes of the state. However, the artist has matured, changing some of his messages, and providing means to other talents in his realm. Grimm’s label, Day By Day Entertainment, began as an outlet for his 2000 album The Downfall of Ibilys: A Ghetto Opera a cult-followed effort Grimm recorded over 24 hours on bail.

Six years later, the Grandmaster returns with American Hunger a triple CD that finds Grimm paired with the likes of Large Professor, PMD, and other familiar faces from his career. As with the name-change, Grimm speaks about his new stylistic approach, as he gives real talk on the ills of being about what you rhyme. Your flow has a classic street rawness to it. While some try to use the “one shot-one kill” approach, you have a more rapid attack. Does that come from your past in coming up with Kool G Rap or your battle history?

GM Grimm: Of course my style has developed from all of the artists that I’ve had the opportunity to cross. I learn a little bit from this person and a little bit from another. Then you start to come into your own. I can’t say that it’s because of the way that I came up or anything like that. It has a lot to do with the MCs that I chose to surround myself with. Also, it’s just something from with in myself that I’ve always tried to find and push the envelope. I don’t mind falling on my face trying to push the envelope; or trying to discover or modify certain flows or rhyme patterns. You’ve worked under several aliases such as, the Grimm Reaper, to name a few. You’ve been best known as MF Grimm, but now go by GM Grimm…

GM Grimm: I am still MF Grimm, but okay. I believe you, but I read somewhere that you were quoted as saying, “MF Doom can keep the MF. I’m GM Grimm now.”

GM Grimm: Yeah, that’s correct. Actually, GM is me and Roc Raida [of the X-Ecutionerz fame], as well. We’re trying to put out an album, Grand Master Roc Raida and Grand Master Grimm. I’m always going to be MF, but yeah, I go by GM Grimm. It’s just that there are too many of us. It’s just that the focus shouldn’t just be me. There’s MF Murs, MF Bash, there’s other ones coming up that are legitimate MF. You’ve got black belt, you’ve got Dan [commonly applied to Japanese martial arts as a means of differentiating experience levels]. GM is just another degree, but MF is a master degree in its own style. Speaking of MF, you and Doom have done a lot of work together in the past. Do you still collaborate? There was a diss record last year…

GM Grimm: Well actually, I’d prefer to keep the interview on me, but no, we don’t work together anymore. You recorded 2000’s, The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera, in 24 hours while out on bail for a narcotics charge. How did you find that you performed under the pressure? Do you find that your skills become heightened?

GM Grimm: Well, no. It’s not necessarily “one shot, one take,” because me personally, if I don’t like it, I’m gonna do it over. It was just the fact of doing it in such a small amount of time that… I didn’t hear the album until I was released from prison. I just recorded it and never listened to it. I didn’t have the opportunity til’ 2003. I can listen to it and hear a lot of immaturity in delivery maybe, or styles and stuff. I see flaws in the styles and at the same time it made the style its self. So rushing it in 24 hours, it wasn’t like everything was done in just one take. If I said that, I’d be lying to you. I’m not the one take kind of person. I’m not into that. I want to perfect what I’m trying to get done. It doesn’t take me that long to record an album. Now, I’m playing with different styles that I don’t think the majority of people would even like, but I’m gonna keep playing with it till I perfect it. Like what? Can you give me an example of what you’re toying with?

GM Grimm: Like okay… there’s a big difference between me now from “So Whatcha Want” to “Street General.” I know that I’ve simplified so much that a lot of people may not realize it gets more complex than what it seems, because it seems so simple now. There’s a difference from just flowing on a beat or riding on a beat. I know how to ride beats. I can flow the beats. I can flow high hats. I can flow a bass line. I can go off of drums. I can go off of sounds from when it comes together. I’m not trying to be cocky and s**t, but that’s where my passion lies. To become part and step inside the music now, not just defining the piece…if that makes any sense? Yeah, it does because in the, Best of MF Doom/MF Grimm, you did a freestyle with B-One that was rugged. You used phrases like, “Tek-9 dreams and Mack-11 wishes” or “ I’m holding Hip-Hop by the throat, like Whitney Huston holds a note.”

GM Grimm: It was a different time then. I was dealing with circumstances and certain situations when I was much younger. That was my way of expressing it. I dealt with streets and discussing the streets. At the time, it was representation of the anger coming from the streets. I don’t know if it was the proper representation, but it was my representation. Back then, it was a little difficult for me to get to the studio. Now everyone has a studio in their home. Back then, there were other things occupying my life at the same time, which were the streets that stopped me from taking it as seriously as I really needed to take it. While you were locked up, did you have a lot of visitors like Kool G and others showing support?

GM Grimm: The circumstances that I was under while incarcerated, I wasn’t at times allowed to have visitors. When I did, it was mostly personal family. I got support from everyone that you mentioned in other ways…through mail, phone calls and other things of that nature. The people that you’re discussing are busy men. They run small corporations, so it’s rather difficult for people to come and visit you sometimes. I’d call them. I got a lot of support from around the world. I was getting mail from Yugoslavia, Africa, Japan, you name it. So people definitely showed their love. One person that would come and see me was Lord Scotch. He’s a member of M.I.C. [Monster Island Czars], and would make sure that I was good physically. I wasn’t someone who wanted a lot of visitors anyway. I was kind of occupied, living day by day. Speaking of M.I.C., you conceptualized the concept and album, Escape from Monster Island. Without being able to physically see the project through, let alone appear on the album as well as other projects, how did it make you feel not being able to contribute?

GM Grimm: It’s interesting that you mentioned that, because for that first M.I.C. album, I had songs completed. I don’t know why they were not on the album. It’s not like I went away and they did the album. I had songs. I don’t know. You’ll have to find that out from Doom, why they weren’t on there. As far as the M.I.C. album, we have a new one coming out that, to me, smashes the other one totally into pieces. It’ll be out around October with the Halloween theme, being that it’s monsters. Our goal is to be as individual artists. We have a whole army. So you’re manning the controls on this one?

GM Grimm: Without question. Is it going to be another concept album?

GM Grimm: Yeah, it’s a concept album, but each artist now gets a chance to display his skills. It’s not just everyone rhyming and rhyming and rhyming. I’m around a lot of talented brothers that I appreciate. It feels good that I don’t have to be the strongest member. I’m equally as strong as everyone around me now. Since the shooting, you’ve been confined to a wheel chair. How did you re-motivate yourself to get back into the game?

GM Grimm: That’s because of the people that surround me. I feed off of their energy, so it won’t allow me to quit. I don’t have room in my life to quit. All the energy that comes from me, comes from them. Sometimes you need others to help you build. I’m around the right people. My strength is a representation of everyone that I’m affiliated with. You’ve led the life that some rappers can only write stories about. Does having the street credibility make it more real and ok for you to rhyme about those things? Or is it all nonsense and no one should be living that type of lifestyle?

GM Grimm: Of course, I’m surrounded by people and we’ve dealt with and been through some rather traumatic circumstances in our lives. We discuss it and rhyme about it. Of course that makes it more authentic than others who can only rhyme about it, while never having actually gone through it. But it depends on how they express themselves. I don’t know if Steven King has done all of the stuff that he writes about, so it’s difficult for me to say. I do know that Jeffery Dahmer did kill some people, so his is more authentic, but that don’t make it better. That don’t make it right, I feel the same way. I’ve been through what I’ve been through, opposed to some one that hasn’t. All I know is that bullets hurt. It doesn’t make my rhymes better because I got shot and I’m in a wheel chair, but it is what it is. That’s my experience. I wish that I didn’t have to rhyme about that s**t.