Interview: Grap Luva (Part 2)
“We did the whole INI album, which was a very tiring process, because I am extremely critical when it comes to my lyrics and my rhymes. This is where I stand until this day: I am very critical about it and this is also why you don’t hear me on a lot of records.”
Grap Luva is often introduced as the younger brother of Pete Rock, but with the upcoming release of the ‘Neva Done‘ EP Grap shows that he can stand alone as an artist. His talent is evident as he not only works his magic as a producer on the SP1200, but also shows his emcee skills on the microphone.
Throughout his career working with the likes of Kev Brown, the legendary INI, producer Damu The Fudgemunk and of course with his older brother and CL Smooth, Grap Luva has always been one of those artists we can’t wait to hear more from. We can only hope that ‘Neva Done’ results in a full-length release one day…
Read the first part of the interview here
So was that the beginning of Grap Luva as emcee?
Well, I was writing here and there, also during college, trying to get my writing skill together, but I was not really concerned or focused on being an emcee. I just didn’t consider myself as an emcee per se, I was just kinda writing here and there. And after school I was getting down with Rob O and stop by his house, while he was there making music and recording. He had this song ‘Crossroads’ that he wrote, he had a beat on cassette from Pete and Rob O did a demo on that joint. He asked me to spit one of my verses on it and I did, ending up on that cassette demo, which I still have here lying around. Well, from there it just went on.
Did that lead up to INI?
Actually I felt like I had nothing to contribute to INI, because by that time I wasn’t really making beats heavily like that, I was more like getting into it. So when they asked me if I wanted to be a part of the group, I told them that I didn’t think I had anything to contribute, but they thought differently and convinced my. So INI was basically formed and we worked with Pete and Elektra. We did the whole album, which was a very tiring process, because I am extremely critical when it comes to my lyrics and my rhymes. This is where I stand until this day: I am very critical about it and this is also why you don’t hear me on a lot of records. Also because I was always more focused on being a producer, than an emcee. So once we did that INI album, I was focusing more and more on making beats, I worked really hard on making beats, from like 1995 to about 1999. This was the time when I was making beats really heavily. I used to work at Pete’s house, because of the sound quality I’d get out of his equipment.
In a video (above) you wear a T-shirt saying “Rap – Lies = Hip Hop”. Is that just a shirt, or is it more like making a statement to you?
This is a statement, for sure. The lies it what destroys the mindset. The lack of the truth is what tempers with the mindset. And like I said earlier, it is the mindset that still can be moulded, the youthful mindset. We are seeing this, when our young brothers and sisters are murdering each other left and right, 14-year-old young ladies can have the thought processed of picking up a gun and murder a grown man, young brother can look at each other and see each other as another dead man and not even care, people can just watch other people get beat down in the street and not even care…
And I am not putting the brain so much on hip hop, because at the end of the day, parenting is the key and what your base in life is. But at the same time, the music is a heavy influence, it is very strong and powerful. It is the last vessel of power of the have-nots. That is hip hop music. It is something that came from literally nothing. We took things that we already there and made this thing called hip hop which is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. This came from a cat saying “Yo, that turntable right there and that turntable right there, I need to take two records and blend them up, mix them up”.
But the mindset is what it is, so that shirt means a whole lot. It can’t have the lies in it, you got to be honest to what you are dealing with. Because there are people listening, there are people watching, there are people who are going to emulate what you are talking about. There are people who are taking what you are saying as instructions on how to live their life. I know that, because I did it with the Jungle Brothers, I did it with Public Enemy, I did it with KRS. When I heard the record ‘Beef‘, it started me on my quest of being a vegetarian. That record and studying the Rastafarian way of life.
What artist do you miss the most in the music business?
I wish Kool Keith would get an ill-funky producer and just go off, take it back to the ultra days; these days where they were making this ill tracks, unforgettable classics, like the ‘Critical Beatdown‘ album. Believe it or not, many people moulded their career off that album, because it was so raw and the lyrics are so off-skill or “out there”. That was a lot of inspiration for a lot of emcees.
Looking back at your catalogue, can you tell us which artists you’ve particularly enjoyed to work with?
I enjoyed working with Profile, because he is really laid back. I also love working with Kev Brown. We work really cool together because we are a little bit opposite. He is more of an introvert person, I am more extrovert. Joc Max and Spinna, it was a real pleasure working with these guys. It was a really easy and fun session. Creating ‘Take A Look‘ was just a great session.
You’ve also been working with some non-U.S. artists, like DJ Mitsu The Beats and Dj Kou (a.k.a. Grooveman Spot). The results are amazing! How did you get together and how was the work experience?
I had originally made a version of ‘A Word To The Wise’ with Yusef Dinero, with a track/beat that he did, which is available on Soundcloud. I did it back then, over and over again, straight from a beat tape I had. I just took the beat and did a joint over it; and that is where the original version of ‘A Word To The Wise’ came from. And then Mitsu sent me the track and decided to apply that song to his beat, so I did ‘A Word To The Wise’ to Mitsu’s track, send it back to him, he liked it and to that point that he asked if we could put it on the album. So that is how the track ended up on his album.
And then Grooveman Spot, who has a connection to Mitsu, came around and I’ll always do another joint with him. So that is how ‘Gettin’ Better’ happened. Anyways, Mitsu is the man. He did a joint for this Korean artist called The Quiett, the track is called ‘Old Records’ and the beat is so sick. Mitsu is a dude who I always admired. And his brother Hunger (from GAGLE), who is an emcee, even I don’t really understand what he is saying, but his flow is crazy. Straight ridiculous, straight funk!
The limited edition vinyl of Grap Luva’s ‘Neva Done’ is available now on HHV (Europe), UGHH (USA) and Disk Union (Japan)