ARTIST TO WATCH: NICK GRANT
by Nikole Tower
Pub Rock was packed wall to wall on Sunday night. Hardly anyone was in the bar area, trying to get as close to the stage as possible. Hip-hop artist Ab-Soul was getting ready to take the stage that night, but not before Nick Grant, a quick-thinking lyricist from South Carolina, had his time under the spotlight. I got the chance to talk to Grant after his show.
Most of these hip-hop and rap fans were there for Ab-Soul who was stopping in Phoenix during his YMF Tour. Grant will be touring with him for a little over half of the tour until they stop in Toronto.
Grant performed some of his tracks from his album released earlier this year, “Return of the Cool,” with freestyle mixed in between. While this was probably the first time most of the audience were hearing him, they were jumping and chanting “Preach!” with nearly every new verse. With just a microphone and a beat, he managed to capture the attention of everyone in the room.
“Anything can be put into a rhyme,” Grant said. “Being that rapping is my job, I have to be mindful of the things around me to apply them to music. For me, it’s just knowing what’s going on around me and the people that raised me and being mindful of the emcees that came before me, the pioneers, Jay-Z, Nas, all these great emcees that we love to mention. That’s what I am and that’s what I represent. Just being mindful of life and life experiences.”
The 28-year-old rapper relocated to Atlanta during the beginning of his career where he was picked up by Jason Geter who has worked with talents like T.I. Grant emphasizes the importance of the small town he came from and how that shaped him into being who he is today. The Carolinas don’t just belong to J. Cole now that Grant has stepped into the scene.
“I use my city to attribute all the knowledge, all the life lessons that I needed as I got older from my grandparents, all the things they taught me at a young age, it just motivated me to be the person I am today,” Grant said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever so when I got into the world, I needed to have that foundation in order to survive everywhere else.”
Grant wears his emotions on his sleeve on “Return of the Cool.” Listen to “88,” a mixtape he released nearly a year ago, and it’s clear how his sound is maturing. He’s been able to hold onto what has made him stand out this far – the careful wordplay and truthfulness that highlights his wish to show everyone that he’s no different from them. He said if listeners can take away one thing from his latest album, it’s that emcees are in trouble.
“If people like this album, then they’re going to like everything from here on out,” he said. “I know how much better the album could’ve been.”
The year has already been off to an exciting start with a new album, which has received mainly positive feedback both from fans and other artists in the same field, as well as the tour with Ab-Soul. Grant’s far from slowing down, let alone stopping. He’s not shy to mention that earning the material things like money and awards is on his bucket list, but there’s a clear purpose behind what he does.
“My mentality is life as you climb,” Grant said. “When you get into a position, all that other stuff is cute, it’s great, I’d be a fool if I say I didn’t do it for money, but most importantly it is helping somebody else with ideas that are like yours but also aren’t like yours. Ideas that are better than yours. [It’s about] helping people and pulling them up until you’re in a better position to help them and spread their ideas. It creates a domino effect. That’s what it’s about for me.”
As long as Grant doesn’t lose his positive outlook on hip-hop and what he’s capable of, there’s nothing that will stop him from making his way to the top.
Photos by Nikole Tower / find more photos here