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RedefineHipHop: Grav Interview Part 3 of 3

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Published on Apr 1, 2012

More interviews, Hip Hop history, album reviews and more: http://fifthelementonline.com/

Grav Part Three focuses on two key stories; recording his album at the Legendary Powerplay Studios and what path his life took after the "Down To Earth" album.

Grav's "Down To Earth" album was my first-time being able to get an inside look at a "major" record being released on a national scale. I even got to assist, if only in a small way...
In the Mid 90s, a couple times that I travelled to New York, Grav and his Mom's were ever so generous to open up their home to me and let me stay with them in Harlem. Staying with them was the first time I got to explore Harlem. I was walking around everywhere: day, night, and late night, just soaking it all in. Doing that is how I met a young and recently signed Big L in '94 when all he had was his "Represent" verse on Showbiz and AG's "Runaway Slave" album. Beyond that, I had many other adventures as well.
Among my favorite, was going to Powerplay Studios and witnessing a small portion of this album being recorded. I was able to watch Liz Mercado in action. It remains a very memorable experience to me.
The first day I went they were working on the track "What". This was right on the ending-cusp of the popular New York Rah-Rah hooks, so the idea was to get as many of us stuffed in the sound booth as humanly possible and yell "What!" We were boxed in there so thick we could barely move, it was crazy fun and exciting to think my voice might make it on a record finally, even if only in a small way. Packed in there was myself, Kanye West, Rashawn a.k.a Gator (who kills it lyrically on the posse cut "Line For Line"), a bunch of Grav's crew who I didn't really know, and quite possibly DJ Nu-Mark was in there...he was definitely in the session.
The second time I came thru it was a mixing session for "World Domination", with Liz Mercado in the pilot chair and DJ Nu-mark, Kanye West, and Grav on assist. It was cool to be able to see how a professional record is mixed. I sat back and just observed...
I was planning to come to other sessions, but I had some other projects I was working on during the trip, so didn't make it back. However, even then, I was known as the guy who knows a lot about Rap, so Grav called me when they were working on the title track, "Down To Earth". They wanted to add some scratches and needed a quote saying "Gravity". After a few moments of consulting the mental library, I told them I could do one better and give them the quote and an album title reference in one quote, courtesy of Royal Fam, who just a year previously dropped the line, "I come down like forced Gravity!" on "I Declare War". They ended up only using the "Gravity" piece, with DJ Nu-Mark on the cuts doing it up nicely. It's such a small thing, but I still recognize it as the first time one of my ideas made it to vinyl....
Another key memory from this trip was that Kanye West was also staying at Grav's spot, at least part of the time. I'm pretty sure I ate homecooked breakfast with Kanye at least once...ha. What I do clearly remember is that at the time I was the Co-owner of Caught In The Middle Magazine and it was building a nice name for itself. Kanye West had a meeting with me in Grav's living room about his potential as an artist. He played me his demo, which was great. I'm still mad I never got that demo! He was supposed to get me a copy before I left, but we didn't' reconnect and I never followed up. Kanye was pitching to me why he should be featured in the next issue of Caught In The Middle and made a compelling case and easily sold me on the idea, but unfortunately the Mag went out of print before that next issue. There was also some "loose" conversation about me helping him with some "management" stuff. Quite honestly, I doubt it was a very official offer. I think at the time he was hustling hard and I assume anyone that had some sort of possible connections in the business he was tapping into them. I'm assuming he had similar conversations with dozens of people. Unfortunately, I just didn't have the time to invest doing that then. He told me, quite confidently, that he was going to be a star. I'm not going to be one of those guys who says, "I always knew he would be a star", because that wouldn't be quite true. However, based on his approach, talent, drive, and mindset I absolutely knew that he was going to do everything humanly possible to make it happen and if he ended up not being famous, it would NOT be for lack of trying, being lazy or not being focused.
In any event, here are some other sides of the story from the man himself, Grav...

Interviewed By Kevin Beacham
Filmed by Roper Fuentes
Video Edited By Dan Schlueter

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