I’m proud to claim the Pacific Northwest as my home region. It’s also probably the least decorated regions when it comes to hip hop. Seattle leads the way and was in the mix in the early stages with Sir Mix-a-Lot coming onto the scene with his smash “Posse On Broadway”. Along with radio personality DJ Nasty Nes, Mix would shine some light on the Pac North West. Soon other artists such as my man Xola Malik (aka Kid Sensation), E Dawg, and Criminal Nation would put out albums that would gain the region some attention. In the late 90′s though, the region dip into a relative quietness, at least on the national level.
More recently though, Seattle AND Portland have started to make some noise again. Blue Scholars and Common Market have both made critically acclaimed albums in the past few years. Seattle resident Jake One has been on the national stage as a producer. Grayskul, Boom Bap Project, Old Dominion and others have all released well received albums of late as well. The subject of this week’s New Artist Spotlight is another MC from the region, poised to make noise..
Grynch is only 22 (which I guess isn’t that young, but we gotta remember I’m an old codger), but already has a couple mixtapes and an album under his belt. The smooth word play from Grynch has already has established Northwest vets taking notice as Geolgic of Blue Scholars and Jake One have already collaborated or will be collaborating on future projects. Armed with melodic production, Grynch keeps getting better with each project. You can catch him on stage Aug 30th-Sept 1st at the Bumpershoot music festival. As usual, we sat down with Grynch and asked him seemingly mindless drivel about his music and his future….
If Only (Feat. C-Nik & Macklemore):
When The Beast Comes Out:
W: Hey man, thanks for your time. Can you give the readers a brief introduction of who you are and where you are representing?
Grynch: Of course man. I go by the name of Grynch. I’m an MC representing Seattle, Washington, and I want a pair of Nike Air Max 90 Infrareds.
W: I thought they grew Nikes on trees in Seattle? Let’s get some of the generic questions out of the way. What were some of your early memories and what inspired you to be a hip hop artist?
G: The first time I remember really being exposed to Hip-Hop was in like the second or third grade. A friend of mine named Vu let me borrow a copy of The Chronic on cassette and I got hooked. I think I still have that tape laying around somewhere actually. I don’t think I ever gave it back. But yeah, that was probably my first experience where I felt like Hip-Hop was something special. From there I just kind of clicked with it. I grew up listening to a lot of classic West Coast stuff. I was a huge Death Row fan. I was also really into Quik, Cube, E-40, Coolio, all that. Mobb Deep, Nas, Biggie and Wu-Tang were also early influences. I would pretty much listen to any and all Hip-Hop that I was exposed to. These guys literally became my heroes, especially Snoop, as a kid and eventually I started to write rhymes. They were pretty damn bad in the beginning but we all start somewhere, right? I just kept working at it and here I am today.
W: Can you trace some of your trials and tribulations to get where you are at now?
G: Yeah. Besides messing around and recording raps on a boombox my dad had, I never actually recorded anything until high school. I was planning on having my senior project be an EP/demo with my homie Jihad (a.k.a. GT5) doing all of the beats. The only problem was that I had nowhere to record. So one night I went to a rap showcase/freestyle battle my guy Sonny Bonoho put on. I didn’t know Sonny at the time but afterwards I got his contact info. I hit him up shortly after and left a message to see if he knew of anywhere I might be able to record. He hit me back a few days later and invited me to come record at his spot. I finished up my senior project there with him. That was a little over four years ago and ever since then I’ve just been gradually gaining momentum. I’ve got two albums and two mixtapes under my belt now, and I’ve been fortunate enough to experience things I honestly never thought I would. For example, I had the privilege of opening for Nas this past May. That was incredible! I run into random people I don’t even know on the street who recognize me from time to time too. It’s truly humbling and I’m extremely grateful for it because I know you can’t take anything in life for granted. It’s been a trip watching this whole thing slowly evolve into something significant. I’m happy with it and I’m having a lot of fun. Hopefully it’ll just continue to go the way it has been these past few years.
W: As a fellow “Northwestener”, it’s good to see cats starting to come out of the Pac NW more frequently and it’s quality music too. What is the scene like out in Seattle now and where do you feel the northwest fits into the grand picture of hip hop?
G: The Seattle Hip-Hop scene, as well as the whole Northwest, is, in my opinion, Hip-Hop’s best kept secret right now. There’s a lot of talent out here and for the most part it’s been largely untapped by the industry. There’s probably numerous reasons why that’s the case but it is what it is. A lot of people complain that we don’t have our own sound. It’s pretty much a melting pot here. I think that can be both a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. I mean on one hand it could possibly cause somewhat of an identity crisis for the region in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time I feel like being tagge
d with a certain sound may hinder a region more than it may help it. Just do you. I’m not expecting Seattle to blow up as the next mecca of Hip-Hop or anything like that so I really don’t think it’s that big of an issue. People also love to use the whole “there’s too many haters out here” argument. What really makes you think it’s any different here than it is elsewhere? There are haters everywhere. I don’t think there’s too many haters here, I just think there’s too many people not willing to accept the fact that they might be a part of the reason they aren’t succeeding. This shit is what you make it. If you think about it, in the past few years there have only been a few Seattle groups to really gain major national exposure outside of the town such as the Blue Scholars, Grayskul and Boom Bap Project. There are a number of artists and groups on the verge right now, though. Like I said, I don’t expect Seattle to necessarily blow up and be the next Atlanta or anything like that, but I definitely think it’s safe to say that people will be hearing more and more artists out of the city as time goes on. There’s just too much talent here for it to go unnoticed. Then again, you never know how things will go in this business. Only time will tell!
W: You have a new album out, “My Second Wind”, what can a listener who has never heard of you expect from it?
G: I put my heart and soul into My Second Wind. It’s a pretty personal album. Simply put, it’s music you can feel. I think there’s something for everybody on there. I went through a lot while I was making it. Relationship issues, a good friend of mine passed, etc. Just a lot of shit. I did a lot of growing during the creation of this record. I’m 22 now, so I’m sure I’ll continue to grow through the next record as well. But yeah, My Second Wind is dope to me. It’s something I’m proud of. There are songs on there that I’ll probably still be performing years from now. I’d advise anyone who hasn’t heard it before to just give it a chance. If you don’t like it, it’s all good. But at least give it a chance. I think the chances are pretty good that you’ll enjoy it.
W: Who did you hook up with for production and guests?
G: I worked with a number of people on My Second Wind. As far as production goes, it was handled by C-Nik, Budo, DJ Nphared (who is also my actual DJ), Jayo, Apoulo, Sound Dialect, BeanOne, Illoquint, GT5 & D-Sane. And as far as guests go, Geologic of Blue Scholars is on there, D.Black and Fatal Lucciauno of Seattle-based label Sportn’ Life Records are on there, Macklemore, C-Nik (he raps too), Sonny Bonoho, Speedy, Portia, Billy Patron & Too Good.
W: If money was no object, who would you tab for the ultimate Grynch album as far as production and guests?
G: Man that’s a tough one. Hmmm…I’m gonna have to limit it to five in each category otherwise this answer might get to be ridiculously long. I would have to say Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Ant, Kanye West & Just Blaze on production. As for guests, I’m gonna have to go with Jay-Z, Brother Ali, Snoop Dogg, Nas & Freeway. On paper that looks like it could be a real interesting sounding album. It could either be the absolute shit or a complete disaster. Hopefully it wouldn’t be the latter.
W: What do you have lined up for the future?
G: Right now I’m working on an EP called Something More which will be available for free download sometime within the next couple of months. All of the production was handled by a production team called Two Good Men out of Boston. Actually, one half of Two Good Men is my guy David Angiulo who is from Seattle but is going to school out there. He linked up with the other half of the team, Greg Korbas, over there and they’ve been making beats together ever since. Shout out to Greg and Dave! Dave actually put together my first mixtape I put out back in ’06 under the name DJ Stylz so we’ve known each other for a minute. I did joints with Geologic (of Blue Scholars) and Tunji (of Inverse) for it. It should be a cool little project. I’m also starting to work on my next album. I’ve got Jake One, Illmind and C-Nik on board already. It’s off to a good start but I’m still focusing on pushing My Second Wind. That’s definitely the priority still. The next record will come when the time is right. There’s absolutely no need to rush it. I’m also planning on doing a lot more traveling than I have in the past. I’m trying to hit the road. It’s time to expand. I’ve done a few shows out of town and I went to Cali twice this year for shows but I know that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s a big world out there and I’m trying to see it. We’ll see what happens!
W: Any last words?
G: Thanks for the love and support! Be sure to cop My Second Wind on iTunes, or you can get a hard copy via my MySpace. You can also download both of my mixtapes on my MySpace for free. Peace!