Nick Grant On The Current State Of Hip-Hop: “We Need More People Waving The Integrity Flag” – The Source


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Nick Grant gives us hope that real Hip-Hop is here to stay. 

Born and raised in Walterboro, South Carolina, a small town that hosted around 5,000 people, Nick knew he was destined for something greater early on. Being raised by his grandparents and growing up on Hip-Hop music, he’d soon find his own footing in the rap game. Soon, he’d explode onto the scene with his undeniable bars, soulful sound, and meaningful lyrics that do not go unnoticed. 

Now, the “FEDS” rapper returns with his first project in over three years, showcasing the most vulnerable side of himself fans have yet to see. Clocking in at 16 tracks, Sunday Dinner touches on a multitude of topics including Nick’s personal experiences growing up, such as turmoil in the household, his mom’s addiction issues, and much more. 

The Source spoke with Nick Grant in downtown Los Angeles to discuss his love for Hip-Hop, the new project, goals, and more!

What was the moment you fell in love with Hip-Hop?

When I heard Ready To Die by Biggie. It was “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” the single. That era, that time. Doggystyle was influential in me falling in love with Hip-Hop as well. But those two artists, Pac was always around. That era of music, the 90’s era of music. I had to be 5 or 6 when I was hearing this music.

You knew then that you wanted to spit?

I didn’t know I wanted to rap, they made it look fun to me. I just enjoyed it. By the time I got into Nas heavy, because he’s around the same class of artists. Jay Z. Those were the guys where you know what, I’ma try my hand at this and see how it pans out.

Where do you see the current state of Hip-Hop?

Man. [laughs] That’s a good question. We need more balance. We need more people waving the integrity flag, the skillset flag. Shining more light and giving more opportunity to the people that — and I’m not a person where it’s gotta be me. I’ve gotta be the guy you give the opportunity to. Nah, there’s kids younger than me that push the same thing I’ve pushed. That help the art form, help push the envelope and help it get to a more balanced place. 

We gotta shine more light on the people that are baring their soul, putting a lot of time and effort into making a statement. As opposed to “oh, this is my friend. This guy’s…” I think we gotta give it to the people that actually deserve it. I can’t say what somebody doesn’t deserve, but we should give it to people that wave a certain flag and have a certain skillset.

What are your thoughts on the female rap scene right now?

Oh they’re killing it. Killing it. A lot of them making us look bad. [laughs] They have more fun. The person that has the most fun is always gonna have more victories.

Sunday Dinner out now, what was the concept that inspired the project?

Sunday Dinner is an album about my experiences in the South, South Carolina to be exact. Living with my grandma, and my mom and dad having their own personal issues that they had to figure out. That led me to living with her. Her rules were school, church, Sunday dinner. That wasn’t a thing that was specifically said, but it was how she moved. She showed that was her purpose for me at that time. 

I’d go to school, I slipped up a few times. I’ll be outside hanging with the “wrong people.” Getting in trouble, doing a lot of things at school that she wouldn’t approve of. Going to church, she kept me grounded in a sense with these three things. But Sunday dinner, I’d see everybody. Everybody came over to the house and she’d cook. 

My aunt’s would also have Sunday dinner, we’d go over there. My family’s really big, so I’d see different characters come into the household. Whether it was my mom who had addiction issues or my cousin who went to college, or my cousin who’s a basketball player. Taking all these different personalities and applying them to who I am, enhancing my character in a sense.

How do they feel about the project, especially since it’s inspired by them?

I only spoke to immediate family, like siblings. They love it. They feel like it’s honest and truthful. My mom opens up the album, that was a conversation I had to have with her. Because it was her being represented in a light that maybe I didn’t want people to see her in. I wasn’t strong enough to put her in that position to be seen in that, but for me, nah you gotta be vulnerable. If you want to have a voice, not if you want to be the biggest artist in the world — but if you want to feel like your voice is important, you gotta say things that resonate with people. Attract people and bring them in, so that’s what that album is all about.

I love the song “KNOW YOUR WORTH.” What is your favorite song and why? 

My favorite song is “GRANDMA SAID.” It’s still “KNOW YOUR WORTH,” but that’s my favorite song at the moment. It’s the soulful element of it, and how specific it is. Even my cousin saying, “yo Nick, you need to come in the house,” all of this stuff. I could smell outside. I could feel what that moment was like as a kid when I was recreating that song. That’s my favorite song at the moment. It changes every day, but right now that’s my favorite song.

Anything you were trying to capture in the cover art?

Man, I had a whole nother idea. It was based on the things that culture, TV, everything in the world that feeds our communities. It was gonna be a plate with a gun on it, I was gonna be super deep. Cocaine on it, a whole bunch of stuff. But it didn’t photograph well. It has to photograph well for this to come across. But I said yo, instead of being so deep and dark, just show something a little more warmer. Everybody likes women, everybody loves a beautiful girl. Everybody in the hood has had their hair cut outside or inside at some point. Something like you know, just more relatable for sure. And not so deep to where certain people say “what point is he trying to get across?” This album was basically just show us in a good light.

How’d you end up working with Tweet on “HEAVEN”?

Tweet is someone I always respect and looked up to. Since I was a kid, she’s been making music. Since I was really young, she’s always been somebody that I loved. I loved her tone, how her voice was. How she put her music together, everything. Her album, Southern Hummingbird, was a classic to me. Influenced me in a major way. 

I always said once I’m in the position and able to make an album the right way, the proper way, I want to reach out to her. See if she’ll do a song. I DMed her, she hit me back. She said “yo you’re incredible, I’d love to do a record.” She pulled up. Soon as I hit her, she pulled up. I was in Atlanta at the time, she pulled up to the studio. Chilled, had a few sips of wine. Made some records. We made a whole lot of songs. 

How important is Instagram in today’s day and age to reach artists?

Very important. Very important for me, because I got rid of the ego. I was always the “aw, i’m not reaching out to nobody like that. I want to meet them a little more organically,” but this is the times we live in. You gotta apply that to if you’re trying to get something done. A close friend of mine said “man, just reach out to people bro. Stop overthinking it and do it.” By the grace of God, that way it worked that time. 

What’s the most exciting DM you’ve gotten? 

[laughs] Man, I got a few. I’ll keep it PG, but another one was from one of my favorite rappers: Royce Da 5’9”. When I first came in the game, he’s like “yo keep it up. You’re dope.” After that, he sent me a record. He’s somebody I always watched and respected. Another one was Erick Sermon. Classic EPMD, legendary Hip-Hop producer. I’m young, but I’m really old at heart. These guys were, still are, superheroes to me. 

How does this project showcase your growth as an artist? 

For me, this project shows vulnerability. lt shows growth, it shows not hugging the tree of “man, I don’t want a motherfucker to see me like this. I don’t want people to have this opinion about me.” It’s all about not caring about opinions anymore. That’s the space I’m in. Excuse my language, but I don’t give a fuck about everybody’s opinion musically, about me in life. 

When I first came in the game, I wanted everybody to love me. 

It was really organic though, people naturally liked you. 

Yeah somewhat, but I still cared. I still moved in a way where I want you to feel like this about me, I’m the best and I’m this cool person. I still want you to feel like that, but I’m not forcing that. I don’t care about your opinion about who I am. If something connects and resonates, I’m always moving on respect always. But I’m not concerned about people’s opinions about me anymore. That’s the place I’m in.

That’s a very freeing place!

Yeah for sure, life is so much easier. Because I feel like that, I’m closer to my goals. Because I’m not letting the distractions of “man if I do this, this person’s gonna feel like this. If i say this, I’ma offend this person?” So definitely a freeing space. 

What are your goals? 

My whole mentality has always been to get in a space, and help like-minded people. Of course I love money, I want to have money and I want to be successful. But always for me, the thing that’s most important is you’re not gonna live forever, so you gotta create a cycle of helping people and lifting people up. That’s what I want my contributions to life to be. When it’s all said and done, it’s “man, he helped so many people.” It’s my whole mentality of lift as you climb, get to a better place. Help this person, hopefully they keep the cycle going. But I get a lot of flack for it. “What they doing for you? They wouldn’t do that for you if they were in position.” That’s basically what it’s all about.

Anything else you want to let us know? 

Sunday Dinner out right now, go get it. It’s my most personal album, my best album. A lot of people agree with me. I had a hump as far as 88 being my first project. Everybody was saying “yo, this is your best project.” But this project got me over the hump. Showing people nah, he made a project better than that. And I actually know who he is. Because it was at a point where “Yo, he’s one of the best rappers. What else? What’s the story? How can I relate to this person? Of course, I love the punchlines. I love the verses, all this shit. What can I take and connect it with?” That’s what this album is about.


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