“You motherf*cking wack ass rappers! I told you, you’re getting retired today! Nick Grant right there!” Those words were all veteran Hip Hop journalist Sway Calloway had to say after the Atlanta emcee shut down his Shade 45 show with a 4-minute freestyle. The praise for Grant did not end there. Co-host Heather B followed Sway’s influential co-sign by suggesting, “Nas just f*cking entered your body n*gga!”
Grant’s course as an artist is still in its early stages, but when the final story about his career is written years from now, that moment on Sway In The Morning may be where the rising action of his narrative begins. Like LL Cool J letting the world know he needed a beat, Nas snuffing Jesus live at the barbeque, or Kanye West spitting through the wire, Nick informing Sway’s listeners that he’s “like Marshawn Lynch with strep throat” could be a point in time that proves a compelling new voice in Hip Hop has arrived.
Grant was in such a zone as he was rapping, the rhymer claims he did not even know Atlanta legend Young Jeezy was standing right next to him. A-Town rap representatives Cyhi The Prynce and Scotty ATL were on hand during the live broadcast as well. Surprisingly, the person at the center of the adulation was the toughest critic in the room.
“I’m so hard on myself, I felt like I could have been better. When I saw the reception I thought, ‘I guess I did good,’” Grant reveals to AllHipHop.com. “I really appreciate getting that recognition, because I’ve been doing this for so long. I feel like I’m getting somewhere now.”
That life journey originally began in the small 5000 person town of Walterboro, South Carolina. A 14-year-old Nick later relocated to the next state over to live with his older sister. His first settlement in Georgia was off Atlanta’s Northside Drive. The young transplant also spent time in other areas around I-285 such as Union City, College Park, and Dunwoody.
Nick’s initial steps into the Hip Hop arena kicked off as a hobby back in Walterboro. His regular visits to a friend’s house included watching his peers battle to see who was the best MC. As a basketball and baseball player, Nick was no stranger to competition. So when he was challenged to come up with bars just as good as his boys, Grant stepped up to the plate and subsequently discovered his rap ambition.
“Rapping started out of boredom, but then I developed a passion for it,” he says. “I wrote a rhyme, then I came back and rapped it for my friend the next day. He didn’t believe that I wrote it. I actually enjoyed writing that rhyme, and I developed my craft from there.”
Those rap skills continued to cultivate after his move to Atlanta. While still a student at Booker T. Washington High School, Nick often ventured over to Clark Atlanta University to battle some of the college students. According to Nick, an economics teacher even recommended ditching school to pursue making music full time.
The music industry did become Nick’s profession of choice once he got his diploma. As an aspiring artist, Nick released the mixtapes Intern, Born Hip Hop, and The Present, but he realized his contractual arrangement at the time was not the most ideal situation. He decided to move on. With that deal behind him, Grant would eventually connect with Jason Geter – one of the most accomplished music business insiders to take root in Atlanta over the last 20 years.
Geter played a significant role in the development of another Southerner. Clifford “T.I.” Harris met Geter when he was just 18 years old. Tip tapped the former Arista Records intern to serve as his manager. The two would also partner together to form Grand Hustle Records and AKOO Clothing. Geter has now signed Nick Grant to his Culture Republic management company.
“I met Jason in 2011. My brother got my CD to one of his friends. He called me back immediately, but for whatever reason that situation didn’t work out,” Grant explains. “I met back up with him again last year. He told me to come by his crib and play some records. He loved the records, and we’ve been making history ever since then.”
Nick is now putting together his next official project, the first since teaming with Geter. Many of the tunes were forged with producer Dominic Gordon. Nick refers to his alliance with Gordon as a Dr. Dre-Snoop Dogg type of musical association.
Besides working with Dominic, Nick crafted tracks with other production minds. The first record released under the revamped Nick Grant brand was the Damon Thomas produced “Royalty.” As of press time, the lyrical declaration about the rise of a new rap regime has collected over 20,000 plays on SoundCloud. Cyhi The Prynce offers Grant an assist with an emperor level opening verse.
“Cyhi is one of the dopest to me. I was humbled by that. The relationship is natural,” says Nick about the fellow ATLien he met at a local open mic six years ago. “We have a lot of things in common. The most important thing we have in common is bringing lyricism back. We enjoy constructing verses, making dope songs, and making music rewindable again.”
Grant recognizes his accelerated ability to put words together came naturally to him. However, he did not simply rest on his God-given talent. Legendary Hip Hop performers act as models for both the rewarding and rough results of going after success in the entertainment business.
“I feel like you have to study those that came before you. In order to be great, you have to know what to do and what not to do. You have to study,” asserts Grant. “I came up on Big Daddy Kane, Jay Z, OutKast, Scarface – these are the people that I studied. So of course, I’m going to be a reflection of that in some way.”
Heather B seemingly saw that reflection of the Golden Era in Nick Grant when she compared him to the great Nasir Jones. Going by the online reaction to “Royalty,” rap fans have begun to embrace the newcomer as a potential heir to the Hip Hop throne as well.
Despite Atlanta’s present reputation of generating mainstream rappers that have broken from the lyrics based rap of their predecessors, Nick is unabashedly turning back the clock while simultaneously advancing the South’s hold on Hip Hop. And he’s doing it with more than just Trap beats and melodic hooks. With lines like “If Biggie was around, you would barely exist,” Nick is also not afraid to put his peers on notice.
“All the less lyrical rappers are being pushed to the forefront. I’m going to give my feelings about that, because of the things I grew up on and enjoy listening to,” explains Grant. “It was just me saying, ‘If Biggie was around, the game would be different.’ I don’t think a lot of these guys would be around, because the bar would be set to such a high level that you had to talk about something in order to stay around. I feel like if Biggie or 2Pac were around a lot of this stuff that’s popular wouldn’t be.”
Bob Marley has been quoted as saying, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Many Hip Hop enthusiasts view the game shifting back to spotlighting lyrical content as a much-needed positive development.
Nick Grant could be one of the catalysts to ignite that change. His place in future discussions about the impact on the culture is already an outcome being weighed in his mind today.
“Twenty years in the game, being iconic, and having over five classic albums. I feel like the greatest rappers have at least five classic albums that you can play from top to bottom. It’s just about having a dope career and people respecting you,” says Grant about his ultimate legacy. “If you’re not going to be great, why bother?”
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Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #ATLRiseUp series here.
Watch AllHipHop.com’s premiere of Nick Grant’s “The Jungle” video below.