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 isnt.
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.
AllHipHop.com: 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 dont give food samples
then people wont know how good their food tastes.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, we have been waiting on this album for what now four years?
Grafh: Yeah its 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.
AllHipHop.com: 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.
AllHipHop.com: 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 isnt dead by any means. Dont
be confused and brainwashed by the bulls**t you hear out there.
AllHipHop.com: 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 aint
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.
AllHipHop.com: Well Blackhand [the record label] was founded in a penitentiary wasnt 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 isnt
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 aint rap, and I want the fans to understand that.
AllHipHop.com: 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 wont be getting any shout outs at all. We are doing it
all, Blackhand that is.
AllHipHop.com: I mean you have had numerous situations that havent
worked in your favor yet the album still hasnt 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 Im 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 didnt
know what the hell they were doing, they didnt know how to market
Hip-Hop. I would say I learned the business.
AllHipHop.com: What lessons did you learn through these situations? You
also had something going with Dame Dash as well, didnt 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.
AllHipHop.com: What you leaked to the Internet appears to be very conceptual.
AllHipHop.com: 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 didnt express
any of the feelings or the emotions and I didnt explain how I felt
about my fathers 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.
AllHipHop.com: People expect different things depending on where they
listen to music. You know you cant 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.
AllHipHop.com: 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
AllHipHop.com: 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.
AllHipHop.com: 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.