A little interview I did with my homie Abel Folgar from Miami. 305 all day.
E. Grizzly Breaks Down Hip-Hop
Scenes in Philly, NYC, and Miami:
“They Are Totally Different”
E. Grizzly is one of the most diverse MCs to come out of the South Florida scene in the last few years. Unrestrained by the physical limitations of the state, he has forged an identity through works in Philaelphia, New York City, and South Florida. A Renaissance man of sorts, he is as involved with reworking beats by established producers as he is forging an artistic presence in graphic design and promotion.
On his latest effort, Generation 01000001, or Generation A, he one-ups Don Draper’s sexiest hour by rhyming over RJD2‘s work and the results are a chalk-full of the ingredients that make him an MC to look out for: religion, paranoia, science fiction, every-day life, and the incongruence of a well-developed line.
New Times: Let’s start off with what you have been up to since theHelldoesnotexist mix?
E. Grizzly: After that mix I did a project with the punk band 1994! called the NAH Mixtape. That shit was pretty wild. I never realized how much punk kids love hip-hop. I also started a company with my boy Travis Fields called PKG, and we print T-shirts, book shows, promote music, edit video, and all that. We got a store front in North Philly which is starting to take off. I’ve been getting a lot of respect for the mixes I’ve been releasing, but I’m also getting props for the art, designs, and prints I’ve been putting together. It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, but I’m super grateful. And I’m still doing shows in NYC, Philly, and Miami of course.
Speaking of which, what was El-P’s reaction to your work on his tracks?
El-P is a tough critic. Didn’t get a response from him, which is what I expected. But RJD2 showed me love for the new mix I did with his beats. I thought that was pretty awesome. Still a huge fan of both producers, of course.
“Chicken Bone Circuit”
Now, how’s the New Milly trifecta working for you? Still keeping it to a tri-city lifestyle? Planning to add more bases of operation or dropping any?
It’s working great. Did a few sets in Miami for the 4/20 festivities. Got a whole line up of shows this summer in Philly and NYC. The operation is expanding too. A lot of the shows I put together in the past were mostly me organizing everything, but lately I’ve been getting a lot of help. People like Michelangelo from the Cornerstoners gets me shows in Miami. Awar and Thoughts are MCs from NYC and they help put together shows in Manhattan. The PKG storefront that I manage is a legitimate gang of people who are always promoting and booking shows in Philly.
Recently I’ve been adding smaller towns to the operation like Albany, NY, Lancaster, PA, Willingsboro, NJ, places like that. Those cities have their own groups of people down for the cause. I got mad love for all of them.
What would you say is an accurate description of the hip-hop scenes of the three cities? Any differences, positive or negative?
The biggest sub-genres of the hip-hop scene are gangster rap and indie hip-hop, so let’s talk about them separately, because they are totally different. The indie hip-hop heads are the type to listen to MC’s like MF Doom or Atmosphere. The differences with this are the indie hip-hop heads up North take their love for hip-hop farther than anything I’ve ever seen. They adore MC’s I’ve never heard of. I’ll see an indie hip-hop show online that sells out a big venue in Philly and I heard of nobody on the bill. That happens with bands and MC’s up here. A lot of that stuff wouldn’t fly in Miami. The gangster rap in Miami however is similar to that in Philly. When I say gangster rap I’m referring to that Southern, crunkish, trap music like Rick Ross or Young Jeezy.
New York is a different story but the South has a big influence on the hoods up North. A lot of MCs in Philly sound like they are from Miami. New York has their own version of hood shit though. Thug MC’s in NYC follow the Jay-Z/50 Cent blueprint but you have MCs like Asap Rocky who are this new breed of gangster, indie hip-hop head. There’s lots of cross genre hip-hop stuff going on up North too that I really can’t grasp right now, so it’s hard for me to talk about it.
I’m not a musician, hence my profession, so I can’t really claim a musician’s knowledge behind compositions save from what I like when I hear, what can you tell us about the process behind the instrumentation, sampling and beats that go into your tracks?
The beat process is usually different with every project. When I work with bands I let the musicians take the lead on the production. That turns into the musicians challenging me by playing the most abstract hip-hop shit ever. That’s always fun to write to. With the mixes I put together, I usually try to find producers that fit my writing. Then I take a bunch of their beats, chop them up and rearrange it to fit what I’m doing. Each mix is like a big puzzle. Most of the stuff I do is usually dark which is why I did this RJD2 mix. Trying to lighten up the mood a little bit.
“A Beautiful Mine”
Now, lyrics I can get behind, what I like of your work is a solid blend of what are seemingly mundane interests with an inquisitive nature that comes off as sci-fi, astrology, paranoia, everyday life, and community oriented. Tell us about your lyrical process.
It’s a whole process, but it all stems from research I do. Ever since I finished school, I’ve been on these learning binges where I just try to soak up as much knowledge as I can. I researched psychology, the media, marketing, sales, economics, propaganda, globalization, the history of colonization, and religions around the world, and it changed my perspective. But it’s hard to talk about this stuff with people, because nobody wants to hear anything that challenges their thought process. So, I found the best way to express all these ideas is to write about it and scream it at shows. It’s the best way to get people to listen.
Tell us about the binary coding on the album’s title and your thoughts on current technology.
The mix is called Generation 01000001 which just means Generation A. It’s referring to the newest generation of kids that know nothing before the digital era. I feel that humanity is starting over in a way and all of us before this new generation are going to be forced to change the way we think and the things we believe. I feel that if we don’t change our old school mentality, that we will be left behind by the newer generations of kids growing up now. The idea comes from transhumanism which talks about how amazing technology will be in the next 20 years.
To the extent of where we’ll see genetic modification and synthetic organs before we die. The point where technology and humanity meet in a way. Cyborg shit. I think about it when I see everybody glued to their smart phone.
“Inversions of the Colossus”
Going back to Helldoesnotexist for a second, I just want to mention that “East River Float” is one of my favorite tracks. So much so that as an avid mixtape maker (actual cassettes), I always put it in and it gets great feedback from the recipients!
Word! That’s what’s up man. Shit like that keeps me going. Just looking to relate with people.
What’s next for you, both musically and personally?
Just a bunch of music, art and shows. The next hip-hop project release will be a collaboration with this producer Yikes The Zero in Philly. The project is called Radio Ghost, and it’s just a bunch of MC’s from the neighborhood. Also working on an industrial hip-hop mix that I’m releasing with PKG. Doing a bunch of art and hip-hop shows this summer. Should be back in Miami in the Fall doing shows. Can’t stay away too long. Personally, I’m just trying to have a good time all the time. It’s a big reason why I do it all.
Pick up Generation A here. Support local, independent hip-hop.