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[rock the dub Interview]: Che Grand


Being a seeker of fine, new music, I take pride in finding that "new shit", whether it's Hip-Hop or DnB or a hip new Rock act. It's not everyday that the new shit finds YOU... I still don't know how Che Grand found me, but I am glad he did! His Official Bootleg Import EP is how I got introduced, and now I have an EP that I will not put down. Ranging topics from the daily 9-5 grind to subway pimpin' to straight bugged out lyrics and grown man issues, the many sides of Che all point to one direction: real talk. Most dudes these days will big up that "keep it real", but need to do what Pos said and "keep it right". We catch Che on the cusp of the release of his debut album, Everything's Good Ugly, and we get undiluted commentary on the life of a traveling Hip-Hop head. Not too many Black guys can see the joy in Stereolab AND Madlib like Che (or I) can, nor can they honestly say that they just want to rap. Peep the true vigilante...

khal: For those out there that do not know about Che Grand, can you tell the people a little about yourself? Where are you from, how did you get into rhyming, what do you hope to achieve, etc.?

Che Grand: I consider myself to be from damn near everywhere! But according to my passport and newly sent green card I was born in London, England. I'd like to give a special shout out to the INS on the 11 year wait for my papers, they did a great job. Anyway shortly after my birth my parents took me to a place called Milton Keynes. We lived there till I was about 12 then we packed up everything to migrate to the U.S. Music has always been around. With all the moving and constant changes that took place in my life it was tough to focus on keeping friends. I made music my best friend and from that union I started practicing the art of rhyme. There's a lot I hope to accomplish, but the biggest thing I want to achieve right now is making my friend music look (and sound) better.

khal: Hearing your Official Bootleg Import EP, one can't help but hear the hunger in your voice. What keeps you so on point?

Che Grand: Knowing that I can always do better keeps me on point. A lot of artists will tell you that they are their own worst critic and it's no different with me. Even listening to the EP, I appreciate the love greatly when random folk hit me up to say you killed (insert track name here), that's my sh*t! but meanwhile in my head I'm thinking to myself it's alright, but wait till I do these new joints. So I'm only on point because in my mind I'm never fully on point.

khal: Checking your
MySpace page and hearing your "Import Intro" track, you seem to be very up on not just the Internet but your international audience as well. Have you toured around the world? How big is your fan base in terms of countries and nations?

Che Grand: MySpace is the world now, Tom is your Ruler, your King, President and everything! I have to give thanks though, through that site I've managed to attract quite a few fans from other countries. To tell the truth "Import Intro" was 80% concept and 20% real sh*t. For example, the Arabian cat was a joke (although they might be diggin my stuff out there, who knows) but my homegirl from Australia she was the real deal. It still blows my mind everyday to know that my next door neighbors might be playing my music so to actually know that I've got some spins overseas is the craziest feeling! Acquiring an international fan base is very important to me because I find those people to have an honest appreciation for music. It's a shame but right now in the U.S a person is more likely to rock your song because you had a specific video girl eating some ice cream in your video. I think other places in the world tend to care about the actual quality of the material. I won't front, I love a nice video jawn like the next one, but it really should be about the music. There isn't a world tour poppin' yet but I can't wait till that starts. Even though my accent is long gone I can't wait to get back to England. I love the whole
Grime culture that's going on over there right now.

khal: Your bio mentions you being banned from Sam Goody for your "5-finger discount", and you mention the infamous Soulseek on your "Gold Chains" track. How do you feel mp3 downloading has affected the Hip-Hop industry? With so many majors weighing in, do you feel there are any positives to downloading?

Che Grand: Downloading has become a real sensitive subject for a lot of folk. I wish it was around when I was younger; I would've never got myself banned from my fave spot in the mall. It has made things tough but at the same time it's made things easier. Mom used to say what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, if I do it how can I be mad at someone else for doing the same. An artist, especially if they're new, needs some sort of buzz. The 15 year old music lover living in low income housing with no job and no allowance can't always afford that new album but believe it or not he's a major tastemaker. It's because this poor kid likes my stuff and rocks my mp3's that the rich kid wanting to front like he's living the same life buys 3 copies. I need that buzz, so whatever it takes, just get the music out there.

khal: The game these days is full of a lot of different people who seem to embody the same character (the drug dealer, the pimp, the supreme lyrical genius, etc). How does Che Grand stand out?

Che Grand: I want to rap, that's all. If I wanted to sell crack I'd do that but that's never really been me. When I make music I do it with a sense of pride in who I am and what I go thru to make it, the ups and downs. I'm not afraid to show you I'm human, just a human.

khal: I noticed you speak a lot about different facets of your life, whether trying to feed your seeds or the daily grind you speak on tracks like "Work Flow". How do these experiences shape your craft? Do you find it hard to balance both?

Che Grand: The daily grind and the creative side clash a lot. It's not as hard to balance as the family life though. I just had a daughter and I love to be around her and her mother so I kinda feel bad when they can't have my attention because I'm working on music, writing or recording, I almost feel selfish at times. The job sh*t is nothing, if anything it makes me stronger, gives me more hunger. With each new 9-5 office job I get hired to, I always say to myself "this is the last one". I go in with the mind set of knowing one day I might leave and never come back. I'll never be happy at a desk all day.

khal: I'm always interested in how the environments we live in shape our creativity. I notice you've gone from London to the US, and in a few different states in the US. How do you feel these geographical changes have helped you progress? Do you think one spot has helped you mature more than any other?

Che Grand: One thing I always take pride in is the fact that I've been to so many places in my 24 years living. I hear people say all the time how they've never been out of their state and I feel sorry for them because there's so much out here in the world. I take something away from everywhere I go and it comes out in my work. Even if it's something as small a some slang from a certain spot, if I like it I'll find a way to use it, the dope thing about that is the kids living there that hear it will know I've been thru their city and it makes the lyrics a little more personal for them. The two places that have really helped shape me is Virginia and currently New York. One place taught me about community and helped me form a few friendships I'll have for life, the other is teaching me about struggle and pushing to get ahead.

khal: You've also been featured on BET's "Freestyle Friday" on 106 & Park. Do you feel as though freestyling is a lost art? When you freestyle, do you come straight off the dome or do you spit wshettens?

Che Grand: Wow! You took it back with that 106 sh*t! Hip-Hop isn't dead and freestyling isn't a lost art at all. I do it everyday in the shower and other random places I can find. I'm definitely more of a writer though, I don't believe in cats trying to get by solely off of freestyle raps, songs need structure. When I freestyle most of the time it doesn't even make sense, but I'll try to take the hottest lines I can remember and write them down later. The word Freestyle has varied definitions for a lot of people. For instance a dude might jot down a couple of lines real fast while hes eating his Cheerios in the morning, go to a battle later that night and spit those lines, mind you this is his first time saying the rhyme anywhere ever, it's not on any previous recording or anything. Some might say that's a freestyle, others might say it's written. I don't really care just don't be corny or I'll be that dude booing.

khal: With the work you've already put down, when do you think you will hang it up? How much success is too much success, or do you want to just stack bread until you can't stack any more?

Che Grand: 5 full length albums and I'm on to greener pastures. Conceptus Opus will be the Che Grand finale. I don't want to be that old annoying rapper that doesn't know when to shut up.

khal: What's going on with you in the future? Your MySpace page has a countdown to your forthcoming Everything's Good Ugly album. Can you let us know what's going on with that project?

Che Grand: Everything's Good Ugly will be my official debut album, I want to clear up any confusion fans of my work may have by stating that Conceptus Opus is going to drop just not yet. This project is going to be a continuation of the EP musically and I hope to take the listener a lot further into my good ugly world. 60+ minutes with my highs & lows, family, traveling,
Grey Goose drinking, misogynistic rapper with a lady viewing mentality.

khal: Once your album drops, do you plan on a big tour? Where can people go to get to know you better/deeper?

Che Grand: Right now the best way to get to know me is thru listening to my work. Get the album when it drops, the EP on iTunes, the mixtapes and just sit down with me, hear what's going on in my life and how I'm handling certain issues with my music so when I do get to your city we'll have something to talk about.

khal: Who are you currently rocking to for inspiration? Are you a strictly Hip-Hop kind of guy, or do your tastes run deeper than that?

Che Grand: I listen to a little bit of everything. I love Hip-Hop. Right now would be a good time to bad mouth the art I'm part of but I won't. I'll say that in terms of Hip-Hop as of right now I definitely rock my team Lessondary, I'm digging Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Clipse (VA!!!), Dilla forever! And all the Hip-Hop greats. I'm really a Funk type of guy; I like a lot of late 70's and 80's funk. Last week I was on another Parliament binge. For Jazz I'm on Thelonius Monk. I keep some old Loose Ends with me; Caron Wheeler's voice is so soulful. Donny Hathaway is good for the heart. I love Stereolab! Broken Social Scene is some good stuff. Madlib is damn near a god and if you've never heard of Benny Sings you should check him out. So yeah I rock everything...

khal: You're down with
Loud Minority, who also recently put out the critically acclaimed Tanya Morgan album. What advantages do you get off of being on a label like Loud Minority?

Che Grand: Everyone down with and/or associated with the label is great. I'm there because I know that the people supporting the project are treating it as if it's their own album and you really can't top that kind of love. It's an indie label so we do it all on our own, making the rewards feel that much better in the end.

khal: Where is Che Grand going to be in the next 5 years?

Che Grand: With God's grace I'll be healthy, possibly working on the third or fourth offering and working my way to that farewell show at some stadium they hold NBA championships at.

khal: Do you have any shootouts or words of wisdom you would like to drop on the masses?

Che Grand: Why be a human being when you can be a human doing. Everything's Good Ugly coming soon, thanks for checking me out in advance. Lessondary never secondary. Mid H and I'm gone.

For more information on Che Grand, peep his
MySpace page, and check out his bio over at Loud Minority. Also, peep EGU TV, Pt. 1. Loud Minority also made Che Grand's Final Countdown mixtape available FOR FREE here.
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1 comment:

Anna said...

He seems a bit mousy and lil too dreamy. Needs a lil more reality in his speech to seem like a real, meant to be artist.