When speaking on the greatest Hip-Hop cities in the world, Atlanta, Georgia, deservedly can no longer be left out of the conversation. Within the last decade, ATL has produced some of the best talent that Hip-Hop has to offer and shows no sign of slowing down with their newest star, Nick Grant, next on deck. We caught up with Nick Grant this week as he filled us in on his newest project ’88, his appearance on Sway In The Morning and what’s next for Atlanta’s newest power-house MC. Check out the exclusive interview below.
RESPECT.: Why is Atlanta such a hot-bed for hip-hop talent? What is it about the city that seems to naturally and consistently cultivate some of the best hip-hop talent in the industry?
Nick Grant: “Atlanta alone just possesses a certain type of energy that people gravitate towards. My upbringing was a little different, but I think it’s the energy that captivates people.”
RESPECT.: Is there something ATL has, that no other city like LA, Houston or NY can offer?
Nick Grant: “Each City has their own thing and I think Atlanta is just based on energy. New York, their thing is lyricism and the west coast has G-funk or whatever they do, but I can really only speak for Atlanta because I’m here all the time and I see it all the time.”
RESPECT.: Is there another city other than the big 4, that produces a lot of talent that people wouldn’t expect?
Nick Grant: “I would say North Carolina. I’m from South Carolina but I don’t really see a lot of MC’s in South Carolina but when there are, they’re extremely dope. But North Carolina you got J. Cole, Little Brother and 9th Wonder, you got dope MC’s coming out of North Carolina.”
RESPECT.: They say Toronto is being watched more & more as a city for rising Hip-Hop talent but is that really true? Would you say individuals you work with or have worked with are taking an active interest from talent above the border?
Nick Grant: “I like Drake, The Weeknd, and I like what Tory Lanez is doing too, but you know I don’t really see a whole lot coming from Toronto cause I’m so caught up in what I’m doing. When I see it, I see it.”
Sway In The Morning Freestyle – Nick Grant
Respect.: How did you get your spot on Sway if you don’t mind sharing? Sometimes this sort of thing involves a great story.
Nick Grant: “Man, it was my genius team. There was a story before that, like a struggle story, but it was pretty much just my team saying ‘Yo we going on Sway In The Morning’ and I just went in there and did my thing. There wasn’t really a whole lot to it, but my break came putting that together.”
RESPECT.: During your freestyle, Jeezy was loving it and started rocking along side you. Was that an immediate confidence boost? Or did it add pressure? What was going through your mind?
Nick Grant: “I didn’t even know [laughs]. I didn’t even know that was him. Cyhi Da Prince was in the room, and Cyhi is a good friend of mine, so I knew someone was beside me, I just didn’t know it was him. I didn’t know it was Jeezy, I thought it was Cyhi. I didn’t really care, I just didn’t want to drop the ball, whoever was in the room I wanted to impress them because that was like my coming out party.”
RESPECT.: Did appearing on such a well-known and established platform like Sway in The Morning, immediately help your career? Or was it more of a gradual thing?
Nick Grant: “Absolutely, it’s like going from nothing to something in like a day. I been putting in like 10+ years of work and now I got this platform, I’m able to rap and showcase my talent, then I wake up the next day and got hundreds of people hitting me up like ‘hey we saw your freestyle, can’t wait to hear more’. It just happened like that.”
RESPECT.: Do you have any significant upcoming appearances scheduled that fans can look forward too?
Nick Grant: “I have a show in LA, I’m doing South by SouthWest and I have a show this Saturday (February 20th) at the Masquerade in Atlanta.”
“Window Seat – Nick Grant” (’88)
RESPECT.: Who’s your biggest influence when it comes to making music?
Nick Grant: “I have so many, but my Top 3… Tupac Shakur, Nas, and Stevie Wonder.”
RESPECT.: What are you trying to accomplish with your career? Are you taking it one day at a time or is there a set plan?
Nick Grant: “I’m taking it a day at a time because I feel like that’s what you have to do, but you know I just want to be in the conversation of the greats, I feel the old kings are never really going to change, they’re forever set in stone in the history of Hip-Hop. Jay Z, Nas, Biggie Tupac, that will never change, but as far as the new generation of kings, I want to be in that conversation. I’m just doing my best and as for J. Cole and Kendrick when you talk about them, you have to bring my name up. That’s what I want to do, I want to make classic album after classic album. I want people to feel good but most importantly for me, if one person comes up and says your songs changed my life, I don’t feel like my job is done, but I feel like I accomplished something.
RESPECT.: After hearing just a few bars its crazy to think you haven’t signed to any major label yet, are you planning on eventually signing with Grand Hustle due to your relationship with Jason Geter? Or is there another route you’re considering?
Nick Grant: “Right now we’re just listening. We doing what we do, not rushing into anything. We’re waiting on the right situation for real. Seeing what people have to offer.”
*Nick has an independent imprint called Culture Republic, which he is currently signed too*
RESPECT.: Is there anything about your creative process that separates you from the average artist?
Nick Grant: “Right now I think its content, the things that I speak about. They don’t have first-hand experience and when you talk about the new generation of artists, they have their own experiences but I feel like I go a little deeper than everybody else. I feel I do go more detailed and people relate to me a little more because I actually live what I talk about.”
RESPECT.: What made you stick with Nick Grant and not a stage name like most artists?
Nick Grant: “I wanted to keep it as real as possible, because I feel like people slept on me so long that I want people to actually get to know who I am, and what better way to start that off than with your first name? I want you to pay attention to everything, every detail, even if it’s my real name. I want you to listen and love that and hear that a million times, over and over. Especially the people that slept on me and didn’t think that I would even get to this point.
RESPECT.: What’s one thing fans would not be able to guess about Nick Grant? Like a guilty pleasure or unusual habit?
Nick Grant: “I don’t know I feel like I put everything out on the table but what I would want people to know is that I really do this for real. I grew up loving hip-hop at an early age, it wasn’t like just I want to get up and be a rapper one day. I can vividly remember taking Snoop Dogg’s first album DoggyStyle to school for show and tell and I got in trouble by the teacher. She called my mother and was like he shouldn’t have this at school but what was crazy is, I never got in trouble for it (at home). I would get in trouble for the simplest things, but for that I never got in trouble, so I feel like its almost kind of like destiny for me. Like I was supposed to be doing this.
“The Plan – Nick Grant” (‘88)
RESPECT.: What inspired the 1988 theme for the mixtape? Does that year hold special meaning with you?
Nick Grant: “Yeah absolutely, 1988 is the year I was born. There’s a correlation though it has two meanings. When I was growing up they said 1988 was a dope year, and it was actually a dope year and people were actually making good music, we had more than just five rappers making good music we had a lot of elite rappers making really good music and making people feel really good and excited about what was going on in the world of Hip-Hop. So I tied the two together, I was born in that golden year so I want to make people feel the same way that they did.
RESPECT.: Some big names were recruited to work on this project like BJ the Chicago Kid, Killer Mike, Big K.R.I.T and Young Dro… can you give us some insight on how you managed to link up with them?
Nick Grant: “Once again that was my beautiful team, my manager had these relationships and he kind of just passed them down to me organically and we would just go in the studio and work. But the process for that was amazing. These are people that I see on TV all the time and I’m actually in the studio, in here with them sharing my views with music and how I created my process. But the most important thing I learned while being in the studio with them is just have fun with it. Don’t take it so serious, don’t think everything has to be amazing cause it’s not. It’s a process and you got to take your time with it but also have fun.
RESPECT.: If you could score one feature on your next project, who would it be?
Nick Grant: “I feel like I got that one [laughs]. I feel like I just recently got the feature that I really wanted but other than that it would be Nas. It’ll be on an upcoming project but I don’t want to let the cat out the bag too early.”
RESPECT.: Will this mixtape lead into some possible touring?
Nick Grant: “Absolutely, we’re talking every day about that. About touring and just engaging with the people a little more but nothings really solid right now, we’re working on it”
RESPECT.: Now that the fans have the mixtape, what’s next for Nick Grant?
Nick Grant: “Another project, another great body of work. Just staying consistent, and putting out the music, the stuff I feel like people are not doing. And that second project is coming possibly June.”
When Nick Grant’s journey began over ten years ago, he set out to give fans the sort of lyrics you can’t help but rewind, and if there’s one thing we can’t stop doing, it’s pressing rewind. His lyrics, style and authenticity are among the qualities most artists crave, yet never truly embody till later in their careers, or in some cases never. This is why there’s no surprise Nick’s smaller yet impressive body of work has begun to turn the heads of some extremely influential individuals within the Industry including names like T.I., Jeezy, and Jason Geter, co-founder of Grand Hustle Records. When discussing most up and coming artists, the question of “if” they blow up becomes a central theme however, when discussing the future of Nick Grant’s career, It simply becomes a question of “when”.