Interview by Nikki a.k.a. “La Femme Nikita”

1. Your album entitled” Broakland”, is this a present day symbol of what your current situation is or is a musical metaphor?

I guess it’s a little of both…Broakland the place is just whatever city I’m living in at the time—I’ve had quite a few homes in my short life, but I take Broakland with me everywhere I go. It’s like luggage. Most of the album was written or recorded when I was living in Oakland, so that was the genesis. Whereas being in Broakland is a state of mind…the daily grind, working some wack job to pay the rent, in school living off ramen and coffee, or unemployed and drifting, wondering what the next move is, trying to fit yourself into the system…just handling your day to day with your head up. Seeing the humor in misfortune. It’s not only about being broke.

2. Where was the name Grip Grand derived from? Are there two of you in the group?

I got the name Grip from my homie Pablo. He was the first cat I knew who started making his own rap songs, and he inspired me to start writing more lyrics. I wrote for a while with no name at all, but he told me I needed one, and Grip was his suggestion…MC Grip, or something like that. Don’t know why…my given name starts with a “G”, but that’s about it. So I took the name, and I wrote terrible raps with it for like eight years, and no one ever heard them. When I got slightly better and started recording, I added the Grand. I wanted a name like Grandmaster Flash, Grandwizard Theodore…but I didn’t deserve any titles, so it’s just Grip Grand. And while the album features vocals from myself and Gab Wino, really it’s just me. I know I should claim it’s two different dudes and do a separate Gab Wino interview via 2-way or something, but I can’t front. I like the back and forth flow, some Run-DMC shit, but I didn’t know any other rappers at the time, so I had to become Gab Wino and rap with myself.

3. Which track did you enjoy doing most? And why?

B-Day Document, Bewitched, the MPE tracks…the personal songs, the ones for the fam, for my girl. They’re the most difficult to write, but the most rewarding. I think it’s important to tell people how you feel about them while you can, so it’s an outlet for me to do that. On the Broakland tip, though, those songs also served as gifts for people when I was too broke to buy them something nice like they deserved. I guess that kind of takes away from the whole thing, but hey, what can I say…it’s real.

4. Who are you talking about in your track MPE2000?

That’s about my best friend Matt, my “brother from another mother”, if you will. It’s a Ghost-and-Rae situation, like he anticipates my thoughts. We have a mental bond, like twins.

5. Supperrapper and Stupidrapper, two very interesting tracks, can you explain the meaning, logic behind the two songs?

Superrapper and Stupidrapper are about the difference between what rappers say and who they are. Hip-hop is very conformist right now…a lot of rappers’ lives seem to revolve around alternately going to the club and shopping for jewelry and/or throwbacks. That’s cool and all, but I like music where the artist’s personality comes through. Instead, a lot of popular songs are identical in content, carbon copies. Superrapper is about doing the popular thing to get ahead, playing some role instead of being yourself. Stupidrapper is similar…It’s about playing a role. It’s about how dumbing it down can be the key to success, which is tragic, but true. Rappers are these expressive, verbally gifted artists and musicians. But in the interviews, so often it’s “We came to represent and keep it real, know what I’m sayin’?” Maybe you did, but tell me more, ‘cuz I know you can. And the lyrics are dumbed down, too… “If you’re in the club smoking dubs with a bottle of bub scream hell yeah”? That’s like every song now. I feel that a lot of intelligence and talent is wasted on talking about semi-auto clip capacity and whether or not your Denali is sitting on spinners.

click here to listen to Super/Stupid Rapper by Grip Grand in Real Audio

6.From the album “Broakland”, what were you trying to reach, what message?

No message, just music - I tried to make the kind of music that I would want to hear myself, but that I was hearing less and less of. I guess some of the songs have a “message”, like Super/Stupidrapper, but it’s a message about the music. Even with that, I don’t want to be too preachy…better to show than tell. Be the change you want to see in the world. Besides, De La’s Stakes is High already said it all about what was (and still is) “wrong” with hip-hop.

7. Any up comin’ tracks, albums, collabs with any other artists?

I’m working on some stuff with DJ Design from Foreign Legion, and with my friends from the Rec League Records fam out in Santa Cruz. Recordings exist, but it’s all very preliminary. No release dates yet, but I’m trying to make things happen, while simultaneously representing and keeping it real.

8. Who is your favourite artist of all time? What or who inspired you to be who you are today, a hip hop artist?

My favorite, based on the number of their albums that would be on my best-records-ever list, is De La Soul. I was in junior high when 3 Feet High and Rising came out. It made me feel like you could be an oddball and hip-hop still had room for you. Plus, I’m a tall skinny geek with glasses, so…it spoke to me.
As for inspiration, I was inspired to be an “artist” by just loving the music so much that I wanted to be part of it. I always loved rap since I was a kid, which just happened to be a golden age. How could you not be inspired by cats like Run-DMC, Kool G Rap, Kane, Rakim, PE, EPMD, NWA…I could go on for ages, it was all like raw genius. The best music. I had to do it. And, like I said before, my friend Pablo inspired me, because now someone I knew could actually rap well, so maybe I could try, too. It wasn’t something you had to do in a studio somewhere, you could just do it for yourself. Sounds stupid, but I was like 12 at the time, so it seemed like a revelation.

9. How much say, input do you have on this album?

Do you mean creatively? Creatively, I have all the input on this album, because I recorded it alone in my bedroom. It was done over a couple of years, and I’d just tape songs as they came to me, whenever I had something to say…sometimes just grab the nearest beat and rock it, even if it wasn’t my own. There was no plan. It wasn’t meant to be an album. But eventually I had enough material to make it into one, so I did. Strictly amateur-style. Other people’s input could have been useful, but I didn’t get any, I guess.

10. Would you say that your style of rap can be compared to any other artist in the game?

There are other artists who have the more humorous approach, and who champion the lo-fi sound, if that’s part of my style, but it would be presumptuous to compare myself to them, ‘cuz they’re tight…dudes like MF Doom, Thirstin Howl, Madlib, Edan…Count Bass D, too…he does songs for his lady, just like me.

11. What can we expect on your next album?

Better sound quality. I love my four-track, but I’m doing the next album without it. We’ll see how it works out. Hopefully it won’t sound…oh, I don’t know…robotic. And maybe some more pointed punchlines. I’m always trying to improve…