Grafh: Streets Raised Me

Raised by illicit codes and by men who truly epitomize bona fide OGs, this Queens subject was looked to be carrying New York Hip-Hop on his back once upon a time. To him, he still is. Utilizing what his contemporaries may consider the modern day media curse, Grafh, leaked a tester of his up and […]

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by illicit codes and by men who truly epitomize bona fide OGs, this

Queens subject was looked to be carrying New York Hip-Hop on his back

once upon a time. To him, he still is.

Utilizing what his contemporaries may consider the modern day media curse, Grafh, leaked a tester of his up and coming Autografh

album to the Internet, to the joy of his undeniable fan base. The

project paints a very graphic [no pun intended] picture of the trials

and tribulations this artist has faced coming up, not just in Hip-Hop

but on the streets. What he spits he has lived, and he by no means

wants to emulate something that he isn’t.

Setting a few records straight in this interview, the government

anointed Phillip Bernard got into it about labels, the leak, and just

what the situation really was at Roc-A-Fella. Okay, so you opted to leak certain tracks to the Internet, why did you opt to do that?

Grafh: Well I leaked certain tracks to the Internet so people can see

what I do. My core fan base regards me as one of the best lyricists in

the game which a lot of people may not know; they might hear the

Myspace jump off and they might here one or two freestyles. They may

not know how personable and introspective I get on my records. I fed

something to the world so they could understand what it is. Think about

it all the best chefs in the world, if they don’t give food samples

then people won’t know how good their food tastes. Yeah, we have been waiting on this album for what now four years?

Grafh: Yeah it’s been a while. I was signed to Sony, but I never really

completed the album over there, but some of these leaked tracks are

from records that I had on Sony. How different is the tracklisting, being that four years have gone by?

Grafh: I mean a few of them have changed but some of them are the

originals, you know half are new and half are originals. This is just a

teaser, the leak. So are any of the leaked joints on the album?

Grafh: Some of them may be, some may not. I am not sure what I am going

to do yet. I just wanted the fans to hear that type of music, just that

quality Hip-Hop and prove that Hip-Hop isn’t dead by any means. Don’t

be confused and brainwashed by the bulls**t you hear out there. Being that you were seen as carrying New York on your

shoulders at one point and then you seemed to fall back, only your core

fan base may have known what you were up to; what was that about?

Grafh: There was a certain time where I was doing shows all across the

country and I was recording the album, so I did kind of fall back, no

mixtapes and that. That is where people may have got it confused, I

mean fell back because I was recording the album. When I was doing the

mixtapes I was doing freestyles every day and I was like, “Damn I ain’t

got no album.” Then I just came back and tore up the streets with the

mixtapes as the streets and me are just a straight one, two. Well Blackhand [the record label] was founded in a penitentiary wasn’t it?

Grafh: Yeah, this company was founded in a federal penitentiary across

the country and it originally started in New York and when you listen

to the way I talk on records, if it sounds kind of crazy, this isn’t

your average rap label. No disrespect, this is not like a Roc-A-Fella,

this goes deeper than music, it is embedded in the street and this s**t

was around before I was even born. It was created by OG dudes who

follow the code and they happened to raise me after my father got shot

in front of me. The CEO of this company is Chaz Williams one of the

highest respected OGs across the country, he is one of the founders of

Blackhand and he had a hand in bringing me up as a teenager. When you

hear me talk on these records, it is all fact. You can check my track

record, this s**t ain’t rap, and I want the fans to understand that. Are you happy with the situation you have with EMI/Virgin?

Grafh: The situation is cool, we are spending dollars on marketing

this, so they won’t be getting any shout outs at all. We are doing it

all, Blackhand that is. I mean you have had numerous situations that haven’t

worked in your favor yet the album still hasn’t seen shelf life. Are

you happy with what you have to put the album out?

Grafh: Not really. So far and as a matter of fact, all I’m doing now is

for the next record. The next album which will be my major release, as

this one here is still to warm the streets up, it will be released to

the public and we are working on a deal for that right now. That

situation I think I will be happy with. When I was on Sony, they didn’t

know what the hell they were doing, they didn’t know how to market

Hip-Hop. I would say I learned the business. What lessons did you learn through these situations? You

also had something going with Dame Dash as well, didn’t you, when he

was at Roc-A-Fella?

Grafh: See, I was never signed to Roc-A-Fella and that is another

misconception that people have. Actually, what was going on was I had a

film deal with Dame Dash, we were doing a movie called Inside Out,

which was actually based on the life of Chaz Williams, who I mentioned

earlier. His life is crazy, he did 15 years in a [federal prison] and

he got life, but got it down to 15. What you leaked to the Internet appears to be very conceptual.

Grafh: Definitely. There seems to be a lot of frustration.

Grafh: Yeah, that is so true. There is a lot of anger and a lot of

frustration, as a youth. I kept it all bottled up and didn’t express

any of the feelings or the emotions and I didn’t explain how I felt

about my father’s death or about what I went through on the streets or

explain how I felt about the OGs who raised me, as my father was never

around. The dude who actually was there, he got shot in front of me,

and I never expressed anything about these things until I started to

put it into music and then it just came out in that form. People expect different things depending on where they

listen to music. You know you can’t really get to know an artist when

you hear him spit a freestyle on a mixtape. Was this something you

thought about with this album?

Grafh: Oh yeah this was in my head and as I am such a versatile dude I

can do any type of record and I listen to so many different types of

music. If you look in my CD changer now, you will see U2, Audioslave,

you will see Led Zeppelin old and new stuff, you will see Sean Paul,

Elephant Man, a Grafh CD, all kinds of music.

You have to remember we are an independent label going up against the

majors, and we had to out smart them and use creative marketing. So

when I made the record I was on Myspace and I saw there was over 150

million possible consumers on here that I could tap into. You did use all unknown producers on the album, why did

you go that route, when people pay crazy money for big name beats?

Grafh: Number one, I can sell my own damn record, producers or features

because Grafh is talented enough and positive enough to reach the

people with his own voice. Number two I wanted to introduce a new sound

to the game, a new style of music, a new type of Hip-Hop and I think

that was very needed for me to bring new producers in to do something

new. You already mentioned bands like Led Zeppelin, what other rock bands would you listen to?

Grafh: I am a big fan of U2 and right now I am feeling the Fall Out

Boys and the group that sing that joint “Take a look at my Girlfriend.”

They are dope. I like Avril Lavigne and I just like music in general. You have quite a diverse taste in music, not many street

rappers would go on the record per say and mention the names you are


Grafh: Well I think a lot of people are afraid to be themselves in the

game. The game is about an image and most of the guys in it are boring

and have no lives. I am not going to brag about things I went through,

as it is unfortunate events.