MITD: Every artist has a public image. Who is Nick Grant when the cameras are off?
NICK GRANT: Who am I with the cameras are off? I’m just an everyday guy. I have something that people tend to be like– an extraordinary talent, but I you know, crack jokes, I have fun, I have family and friends just like everybody else. My life is, you know– I try to keep it as normal as possible outside of the music. Go to the movies. Play basketball. Just, you know, just everyday stuff. I’m really like a boy next door. Regular.
MITD: It’s really cool to get to meet artist and realize– wow. They are really so great, and at the same time you all are just truly everyday people. it’s definitely cool.
NICK GRANT: Yeah man, I try to keep it at like, you know, not being the person that people always feel like I’m in character, you know what I’m sayin? Like, “he’s never out of character.” Like I’m turning it on and off. It’s me as an artist. Me as a person. artist aThat’s why chose to use my real name. It’s the same person. There’s no rapper image. There’s none of that.
MITD: You went from a job at Krispy Kreme, back in the day, to working with artists like Young Dro and Big K.R.I.T. What has been the best part about blowing up as fast you did?
NICK GRANT: The best part about it? Kind of changing my life. Being able to do things for the people I love around me, that’s number one. My team. Just my team to take me to this point. The whole staff. But the most, aside from all the material things I’m able to do for myself, another great thing for me is having the people that I grew up listening to or whatever, my superheroes– Jay Z, Nas, Andre 3000, Jay Electronica– to go to have these people say I’m the “next great.” And a few years from now, I’ll be standing here coaching somebody else, giving them the knowledge and the giving tools they need to be great. To have these people be so accepting of me, you know? You can’t pay for it, so…
MITD: Nah, that’s a blessing. Congratulations on that.
NICK GRANT: Absolutely.
MITD: So we can move right into the art. The creative process can be very ritualistic. What’s yours like?
NICK GRANT: Man, I just need some candy! That’s it! I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I just like candy.
MITD: What kind of candy?
NICK GRANT: I mean, any kind it don’t matter, any kind except good and plenty. I eat all kinds of candy.
MITD: Good to know. Name an artist that changed your perspective on music?
NICK GRANT: Oh man, I would say Andre 3000, because, when I started studying rap, I always loved it. But I felt like for him, he was always the most conscious as far as the more successful people, so to speak. It was certain things he would put into his music that, you know, things that I would experience in life. For me, I would say he’s the most conscious, and still made for the mainstream. It was just certain things that he was putting his music that people was trying to stay away from. It was kind a preachy, but it kinda wasn’t at the same time. So you can do would you love to do and still be successful in this business.
MITD: Any particular song of Andre’s?
NICK GRANT: Rosa Parks. That verse he did on Rosa Parks.
MITD: What has been the most difficult part of being in the music industry?
NICK GRANT: To see people that you grew up start treating you differently. That’s really the most difficult part. Or family members. You go to a family function, your cousins are the passing you demo tapes, you know? People start saying you’ve changed, but isn’t even that you’ve changed. They expect something from you, so in a sense, they change snd start treating you different. Navigating through that has been the most challenging aspect.
MITD: What has been the most fun?
NICK GRANT: Performing in front of a crowd of people, and they know your songs, like lyric for lyric. That’s been the most fun part about being in this industry. Songs that I’ve written in my room, that no one could hear, only my close friends– my best friends. To go on tour, or to go to the show at SXSW and they rap it in with you. That’s the best feeling in the world to me.
MITD: Imagine you’ve had the career every artist dreams about. You leave the world. You’re reincarnated. What would come back as, and why?
NICK GRANT: That’s a great question. What would I come back as, and why? Aiight. This is kind of weird. I would probably come back as like a pilot. [Laughs] This is where I’m at right now: I would come back as a pilot, because it would be the most challenging thing. And I sat a pilot because, you know, I’m like really afraid of heights. So, aviation. I would be heavily involved with that.
MITD: Ok, let’s switch things up a bit. There has been a major shift in the socio-political climate, globally. How are you currently feeling about the temperature in America?
NICK GRANT: Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about somethings that are going in the world, but I do control my day- to-day. So, when I wake up in the morning, even though we have a leader that I feel like–you know is a reality TV star that says whatever he wanna say outta his mouth– I still control my day today, you know what I’m sayin’? But, the flipside of that is, creatively I have so much to speak about, you know? It’s kinda of bittersweet. Like, creatively I have so much to speak about– and for hip-hop to kind a give other people who I feel like aren’t using their voice properly for these kids who are very impressionable, and they just saying the wrong things. That’s my job– to give them an alternative. It’s crazy because all this negative stuff kinda creates the best music. In all the stress, I’m just trying to create the best music. In all these bad times, you gotta create the best music. It’s kinda comparable to the Reagan era. Hip-hop in the Reagan era was beautiful. Right now, it’s worse than that. This time is way worse than that. It would be an injustice not to speak about certain things creatively as an artist.that’s where I’m at with it.
MITD: What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
NICK GRANT: Trap music. [Laughs] .rap music is like a guilty pleasure because, you know, everybody looks at me like I’m this guy always pushing the 90s thing on people. It’s not that, that I’m pushing it on people, it’s just when I grew up on soon they hear that I was in the certain stuff, it like, “Aw man, you s’posed to listen to…” But yeah, for me it’s like man I listen to everything. I listened everybody. So for me, I always try to put it out there. I grew up on Biggie. I grew up on Nas, I listen to 21 Savage. I listen to Future. All the young guys. Well, not “all the young guys,” I’m still young too, but the young guys that are coming up in the business with fresh energy. You kinda gotta get look at that and know what’s going on so you can create my records and stay relevant too. That’s kinda like my guilty pleasure.
MITD: So you can listen to it but not necessarily fee the pressure to conform.
NICK GRANT: So, yeah, people look at me funny. Especially with this song I wrote called Sing Along– off the Return of the Cool album. If you listen to that, people think I was against trap music but it wasn’t that. It was me saying it shouldn’t control hip-hop. You should have balance. But listen to everything.
MITD: Broccoli City is all about community and giving back. If you had to pick two artists to head a community service project, who would you pick and what would you do?
NICK GRANT: It would probably be J. Cole, and it would probably be Rhapsody. I feel like their goal is to spread love and spread positive energy throughout the world, starting with their community. I believe the things they talk about in the music they present I believe him I feel like people with good hearts after having conversations with them. So, definitely there will be a lot of that going on, in the middle of that. I naturally feel like these people have this positive energy. They’d spread the word to the community. J. Cole being that positive male figure, and Rapsody being that positive female figure.
MITD: One of the goals of the Broccoli City Festival is to redefine cool by educating urban millennials on how to create urban, resilient, thriving communities. Growing up in Walterboro, South Carolina, what do you believe your community needed more of to become sustainable?
NICK GRANT: A lot more opportunity, a lot more jobs, a lot of different things. We need to help the people to survive, because it wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity, even forme. When you look at my life, I had to take my skills and go to another city to be a good rapper. It wasn’t like rappers out there were inspiring us. It’s only fast food and Walmart. It was just little small stuff like that. It wasn’t a whole lot of people to to take that life to the next level. You kinda gotta go elsewhere and bring that energy back to your hometown. It’s unfortunate, because we love where we’re and we gotta build things from the ground up there, that’s if you love your city and you wanna give back to your city. The only great thing about where I’m from is the people and a lot of those people who were giving you that game, that were cut from a certain cloth, have passed away. It’s just young people now. My city is even in worse shape. It’s less than 5000 people.