Nick Grant is the real definition of a spitter. Growing up in the tiny town of Walterboro, SC, the 29-year-old grew up idolizing artists like Snoop Dogg, Nas, Jay-Z, who inspired him to write countless rhymes of his own. Last year, he released Return of the Cool, which received critical acclaim for bringing back that old-school 90’s hip-hop sound we all know and love. Read more…
Now, coming off tour opening for Nas and Lauryn Hill and signing a new deal with Epic Records, Grant releases his brand new mixtape, Dreamin’ Out Loud. The project hails his stand out single “Black Woman,” an ode to female empowerment everywhere. As 2018 continues on, Nick is ready to move out of the “slept-on” category into the mainstream light.
For those who don’t know, who is Nick Grant?
Nick Grant is just a kid from South Carolina. Taught by my grandmother just basic stuff like manners, like pull your pants up, look people in the eye, firm handshakes. Look out for yourself before you help others, but always try to help others — especially when you’re in a position to help others, to lift them up. Along that journey and along learning those lessons, I fell in love with hip-hop music. Tupac, Snoop, Nas, Jay-Z.
I fell in love with those lessons that they were teaching from a different point of view, along with people who were in my neighborhood that I learned lessons from. Just kind of filtering out the positive things I’ve taken from people and applying it to my life, making me who I am today.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop?
I think my sound is truly authentic and true to me, and true to what I stand for. Let’s take, for example, the record that I just dropped that people love, “Black Woman.” Just kind of take some of those things like being raised in a house full of all women. A village full of women – my aunts, my grandmothers, my mom, my sisters — and kind of making a record for them, but also something that the world can enjoy.
That was one of my questions. Can you talk about the making of the visual?
Shout out to Leikeli47. I had this idea of taking every generational woman and just showing her growth, starting with a child. And those things and those lessons that you put into a child affect her when she’s a certain age, when she’s an adult woman. So I kind of wanted to show that visually and she just kind of added everything else. I was just a bystander, she’s the genius.
Talk about your performance at The Basement tonight. How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
LA has influenced me so much before I even started coming to LA. When I was younger, Snoop Dogg was one of my favorite artists, so much that my nickname was Snoop. My mom used to throw my hair in a ponytail with the hockey jersey and the hoodie up under the hockey jersey. I had really long hair when I was young, so people started calling me Snoop. He was one of the first people so coming here to perform… and I’m still early in my career so I’m still performing records that I was writing in my room, when I was broke and starving and trying to figure it out.
I saw you open for Ab-Soul and I was like, “Damn, you’re so slept on!”
Also just a good dude man, allowing me to open up for him. It felt like it was my tour too, that’s how comfortable he made me feel. It was dope. Shout out to Ab-Soul.
I saw your post a week ago about having this be a dream come true. Who are some of the rap legends you hung on your wall?
Nas and Lauryn Hill. I got to go on tour with them last fall. Rakim, who I just met. Big Daddy Kane. Slick Rick. Like that Biggie line, “I used to read Word Up! Magazine.” Hanging those Word Up! posters was a real thing back in the day.
Can you talk about your statement that “money is cool, but having a voice that could help preserve the culture is better”?
I’m a firm believer in, chase what your heart tells you to chase. Money will come. Money isn’t the most important thing. I believe that speaking good things in the universe always brings back good karma, positive things back into your life. I feel like staying positive and working hard for something that you want, money will come. You’ll be rich. And if you’re not be rich financially, you’ll be rich mentally or spiritually. That bleeds into everything else.
Talk about your upcoming project, Dreamin’ Out Loud. What do you want fans to get from your story this time around?
I think that my last few projects… let’s just start with ‘88. I’ve had so many projects before that. [laughs] But ‘88 on up, I began to become more personal. But I think the earlier projects were about just showing people that I can really rap and being an MC. I think now, it’s time to become an artist. This is the stage. This is the level where I become an artist, as far as having stories and having real things that I went through and not being afraid to put them on wax or saying cringeworthy things. Not having a father in the house and being able to speak about that — personal stories that will be able to connect and resonate with fans.
Just saying the most honest things that I wouldn’t normally think about, because I’m so reserved and laid back. So just kind of having these skeletons and pulling them out of my closet and laying them on the floor for people to see. That’s really what this project is about. But it’s also me finding the balance between not having anything to me, to being in the game and getting everything that I want. It’s me not letting that go to your head, but staying away from being broke. [laughs] ‘Cause I don’t want to be broke, so it’s the happy medium between that.
Congrats on signing to Epic! What is your take on the music industry?
Oh man, I have so many wild thoughts. I watched the J. Cole interview today [with Angie Martinez] and it was dope. And he said the realest thing that applied to me, I just couldn’t articulate it. And that is, “when you do interviews, it’s hard to not be honest.” So with that being said, my take on the industry is that it’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s really what you make it. Just from my experience, I just feel like, if it’s so watered down that I got everybody looking this way, I’ma tell a million truths to kind of get everybody one by one to turn around.
I might not ever get the recognition or remain slept on, but when you look back… somebody told me the other day, when Martin Luther King was around he wasn’t the most popular person. It took for him to go through these things for people to say he was way ahead of his time. So when I’m going to do movies and acting, it’s like, “Oh he needs to come back.”
What did you do with your first advance?
I bought my mother a car. That was like the first thing I did.
What’s your favorite song to perform in a set?
I have so many new records that I haven’t performed that I’m excited about performing. Some of them were on the Nas and Lauryn tour, but some of them I’ma try out. But for now, I would say “Love Hate.” I’m sorry, it’s a record “called “Lincoln Apartments.” I changed the name of it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I wanted to be a neurosurgeon.
For real? What’d you study in school?
Absolutely. I wanted to be a brain surgeon. I didn’t study anything. I jumped right into the music. Music got in the way of that. But I think for me, being a neurosurgeon, I was more into the lifestyle. I would see certain people pull up in Porsches. Because somebody that I knew was a neurosurgeon, and I just liked his lifestyle. He told me I could do it too, but I probably couldn’t. [laughs[
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
I remember being in Charlotte, NC, and I played a record and one of them cried. It was the “Black Woman” record, and one of them cried. It was a dope moment.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
I still listen to Jay-Z 4:44, and Frank Ocean.
Man, Stevie Wonder. He’s still most played artist on my phone too. Him and Frank Ocean kind of remind me of each other, that’s why I listen to a lot of Frank Ocean. Anthony Hamilton. I don’t really listen to a lot of rap.