I feel like
a million-dollar bill.
you been up to lately?
been grinding. I've been grinding, grinding, grinding. I have a lot of
new music coming out right now. It's about to go down all over again.
I was fucking around and I made a MySpace song about the girls on MySpace
and the song went crazy. It's been crazy. The buzz for that song is off
the chain. I'm using the internet a lot right now. I think the internet
puts you in direct correlation with the streets right now. The internet
is the streets. I use the internet like a mixtape. Now that I made the
MySpace song, it made everything better.
the internet helped you?
me greatly. That's my connection to the world. I can get information on
there at any time of the day. I'm thinking about the international audience
when I'm doing music now. I have a great buzz over there in the UK. I
went over there with my Blackhand team and Dame Dash.
has a group in Japan and I did a feature with his group and that's on
their album. I shot a video in the UK. I'm really on some worldwide shit.
The web is a beautiful thing. I wouldn't have a direct link to the whole
wide world at the snap of my fingers without it. The internet is my best
friend right now.
things with you and Dame Dash?
good. We don't really do the music together right now. That's my nigga.
That's my dude. I have a Blackhand Pro-Keds sneaker coming out with him.
That's my dude. He's a good nigga. On the music side, it's just Blackhand
right now. We're just grinding it out.
will Autografh be coming out on?
I'm in negotiations
with two other labels right now. I don't know where it's going to go yet.
We're making them wait. I have another club record on MySpace that popped
off, "Make it Hot," and that's popping, especially in the DC
area. I'm actually in DC now. That record is jumping all over the place.
I'm going to make them wait. I'm going to tax them real heavy. Blackhand
has been a strong independent label for the past ten years. We've had
DVD's with Jay-Z, DMX, and 50 Cent. I sell a lot of product. I could make
a living off of the projects we've put out and are going to put out.
gone from Sony to Dame and now you're a free agent. Why have you bounced
around so much?
was at Rocafella, I was going to go with Dame. We have a movie deal with
Dame called Inside Out which is based on Chazz Williams' life. He's the
president of Blackhand. We were going to do music with him at the Roc,
but when he left, we left. We weren't dealing with the Roc, we were dealing
with Dame. I wasn't really bouncing around. Sony fucked up. You already
know they don't know how to do rap. They don't know what they're doing
in all actuality. This is not their forte. We actually went over to Def
Jam and Dame brokered that deal for us, but I didn't want to be there
if there were problems between Dame and Jay. I would rather have Blackhand
stand alone and let the labels fight over us. We're a strong entity. They
have to pay.
have any regrets over the Sony situation?
No. I don't
have any regrets because over there, I learned the business. Experience
is the best teacher. I learned how corny the industry is. The only regret
I have is I didn't start yoking up those niggas sooner and make them keep
their word. This industry is real fake. It's all smoke and mirrors and
bullshit and nothing means anything and no one's word means anything.
I wish I had known that then. Nobody's word is official. The only regret
I have is not making them keep their word. It's not just Sony, it's the
entire music business. There's no loyalty, realism, or honor, at least
among the industry niggas I've come across. If they do have any, they
have it from the streets because they come from the same environment that
I come from, like Bun-B and Scarface. We represent honesty and loyalty
and we stick together. If I give you my word, it's done. Dame is the same
way. When we first did the deal, we did it on a handshake. We shook hands
and said we were going to do it. That was as good as it being written
on paper because he's a real nigga. I never actually signed to the Roc
because he left there before the paperwork got involved. That's the way
we operate. That's what real niggas do. Your word is your bond. If I was
going to pop off on industry niggas, I would have popped off on them a
long time ago. I'm not going to be mingling with them drinking smoothies
and all that other bullshit they do and doing all the other fake-ass shit
they do with each other. If I was going to do that I would have done that
a long time ago. I don't mingle with too many dudes. The few that I do
know in the industry are good dudes. There are only a few real dudes in
a lot of homosexual rumors in the industry.
playing with each other's asses. A lot of niggas look like they get down
like that. I'm in my own world. You don't see me in the club popping bottles
with anybody. I'm in the studio or I'm on the road. I keep to myself.
That's not a good or a bad thing, it just is what it is. I probably would
have gotten further quicker if I had mingled with them. I'm in my own
lane doing me so I don't even know what these niggas are doing, whether
they're making records together, hugging each other, or doing cartwheels
butt-ass naked. I don't care what they're doing. There are a lot of behind-the
scenes who do some weird things. I just do me. I'm in the studio and on
the road getting money. I love getting money.
to the whole country. We've done Baltimore, DC, Tampa, Atlanta, and a
few other places. We're moving around. The love is beautiful you get on
the road and it makes me appreciate my fans and myself even more. I appreciate
the work I do even more. If I was a fan, I would never ask for an autograph,
but when fans come up to me, that feels good. They want to speak to me.
In my eyes, I'm a regular nigga from the hood who raps better than most
of these rappers you hear, but in their eyes, I'm something special and
that means a lot to me. I want to shake their hands and talk to them because
that's amazing to me. I'll stand out after a show and sign every autograph
and shake every hand because it means so much to me. I get a lot of hits
on there and I appreciate all my fans on there. I try to talk to everybody
on there. It's a beautiful thing when people appreciate you. I owe it
all to them. I can make music for myself and play it in my CD player,
but they're the ones making me. That's why I'm on the road and making
money. It's all for them. I make my music, but I make it for the people
to enjoy. I have to make music I like first, but I just hope they can
relate to me and they like what I say. The fact that they do means a lot
your long-awaited debut album Autografh coming?
I really have two albums done. It's so crazy right now. I can't wait to
put it out. It is really crazy. I have a lot of street tracks but a lot
of other tracks. I have a track called "I Don't Wanna" where
a kid is mislead to think hustling is cool. It's not. The money's cool,
but everything else is messed up. I'm always trying to advocate some positive
movement. I'm not a preachy role-model, but I think kids need to go to
school and not follow these rappers. These rappers aren't living what
they're saying. What I say, I've done it, and I'm not trying to be a role
model, but I know I have to put my best foot forward and hope they can
learn from my life. That's my story and I'm going to tell it, and if you
can learn from my mistakes, that's better. I went to school. I was in
the streets doing wrong, but I took my money and went to St. John's University.
I dropped out to get more money, but I paid tuition out of my pocket and
I wish I had finished.
Look at Chazz.
He's one of the most gangster niggas out. He's done fourteen or fifteen
years and was on America's Most Wanted for robbing banks, and he has a
business degree. I'm not going to tell you to not get your degree, but
better yourself. Try to better yourself. Try to do something that's going
to benefit you in the long run. I don't ever want to see any of my niggas
go to jail. When I get on, I'm taking all my gorillas and wolves with
me and they're going to get this rap money. I miss my niggas and I want
them to come home.
feel pressure to blow up to help your people?
It's not really pressure, it's more of a mandatory thing. Success has
to be shared. That's what I have to do. I could never be successful and
be greedy and keep it to myself. I'm looking to break bread. I have a
big fan-base and a lot of people I owe my success to, and that's who I'm
going to share with. Blackhand is a large family. There are a couple-thousand
of us. I'm not a leader, I'm a voice. After I kick the door down, there
are a lot of us coming. I'm like the spokes in a wheel. We're not divided,
we're together. When I pop off, the industry has a problem. It's a wrap.
for Prinz and Shalone. Shalone has his own label. There's also Don P.
from Atlanta. We have directors, screenwriters, and all kinds of things.
This is Blackhand America. We're going 50/50 on the country with Bush.
There is so much money to be made and we have so much to bring to the
Autografh come out?
like the end of the year if everything goes like it is. The little things
slow everything down, like Sony or the Jay and Dame situation. You can't
stop me from shining because the music is too good.
different versions of Autografh exist?
Not too many.
I just keep recording. That's why I put out mixtapes. Autografh is done.
I've modified it so it can be the ideal image of perfection. It's a classic
do you see it coming out on?
I'm between two. There's a third one trying to put their bid in. We're
going to see what it looks like. It's not about money to me. It's about
support and the honesty and integrity the label has. A lot of people at
labels don't think I listen. I listen, I just don't listen to people who
don't know anything. I'm trying to give niggas a blueprint that they need
to follow. I'm trying to give you dudes directions. That's how I look
at music. It's either new or reactionary, and if it's not new, it's not
listeners never really take to your club tracks.
I think that's
the same for hip-hop fans in general. They want to hear spitting. Most
hip-hop fans aren't into the radio. They want to hear the street shit.
I like music in general and I'm not stuck in one form. I like commercial
music, I like street music, and I like rock music. I like music. A lot
of times you'll hear that as an influence in my music. I don't listen
to one form of music. I have Coldplay, Led Zeppelin, Sean Paul, Snoop
Dogg, Nas, Jay-Z, and Gwen Stefani in my CD player right now. I like music
ever bother you when some of your fans don't respond the way you want
them to for certain songs?
To some degree.
You can't please everybody. I don't particularly make music for a particular
target audience. I don't target a particular listener. The beat dictates
what I'm going to write. I don't say I'm making a certain song for the
streets or for TRL. It doesn't matter what the demographic is. I'm making
what I want to hear. I just hope everybody likes what I make. I make what
I like. I know what type of site HipHopGame is and they want to hear my
gritty shit, but I have to make different types of records. I'm going
to give them what they want to hear, I just happen to like a lot of shit.
Like, I have some records that are so rock-influenced that I couldn't
even put them out now. I just like music. It is what it is.
still bother you when people spell your name with a "p"?
Yes! Of course
it does! It can be a person who just saw my name spelled the right way
and they still do it. Even if they go to my MySpace page, they may type
the url as "Grafh" and then still spell my name wrong! It's
the craziest shit. One time I did a big show in Atlantic City and they
made a flier. On the top my name was spelled right, and on the bottom
my name was spelled wrong. How do you do that shit? It's G-R-A-F-H. Get
English teachers ever gotten on you about missing the "is" in
"My name Grafh"?
No. By the time I did that, I had already dropped out of school. I'm sure
they would have.
do you want to get into besides hip-hop?
I have an
interest in real estate. I just bought two homes, one in Long Island.
I'm into real estate heavy because that's an intangible investment that
always appreciates. I want to see and touch my investments. When I was
a kid, I had to touch the fire to feel it was hot. I burned my finger
and I learned not to touch it. I'm the type of person who jumps in the
fire to feel it and I'm very meticulous and I do things myself. I like
things I can touch. I'm also working on my first movie. I don't want to
be a rapper in a movie. I want to be an actor in a movie. I'm working
on my skills for that.
and Shalone going to drop soon?
that song "Gun Talk" doing real well. Shalone is doing his own
thing. When we come together, it's like Voltron. We're all building our
own fan-bases. When we come together, it's going to be stupid. Right now,
it's crazy. The team is very strong. We have a lot of talent. That's what
the next move for Grafh?
out more music, promoting myself, and doing the damn thing. I'm going
to stay online and I'm building my own site, grafh.com.
Go check that site out. I have all my old mixtapes up there for sale.
I definitely appreciate their support. I answer all my fans all day. I
want them to know that. I don't want anybody to have a bad Grafh experience.
I try to allocate at least a day or two a day to holler back at everybody
on there. I want them to know I'm a real dude. I want to get back at everybody.
That's something I learned from being a 2Pac fan. 2Pac believed everybody
he shook hands with would have a story about him, and I feel that. I'm
still a fan and I'm still in the hood.
you want to say to everyone?
and let me know what you think about my music. I want to be in contact
with Grafh at http://myspace.com/grafhblackhand
his name right!)