November 26, 2021

Happy Born Day, Jean Grae! (Playlist)

Jean Grae is a polymath in every sense of the word. She first rose to prominence in underground hip-hop circles as an MC, but a quick glance at her bio reveals the plethora of hats she’s worn since: “Writing, producing, rapping, singing, directing, filming, editing, acting, comedy, hosting, cooking columns, (a lot of cooking) freelance writing, voiceovers, hairstyling, putting on plays, lecturing at prestigious universities, teaching children, hosting my own live talk show, live music shows, free hug stations, improv, scoring podcasts…” It’s a lot. Born Tsidi Ibrahim to jazz musician parents in Cape Town, South Africa, Grae was likely always destined to become a performer. She grew up in New York City, first coming to America with her family when she was just three months old, amid racial turmoil in their home country. She attended the famed LaGuardia performing arts high school and studied music business at NYU before committing to music full-time. It’s been more than 20 years since she dropped her first verse on wax, and while Grae might not be a household name, you’d be hard pressed to find a rapper willing to battle her. Strictly lyrically, she’s one of the most gifted MCs ever. - Pitchfork. As one of my favorite lyricists and people in the music industry, I've followed her since the Natural Resource days, even DJing for Pumpkinhead (R.I.P.) in a very dusty basement some years later, where I was first introduced to Jean. Social media really put her in a place where her unique sense of humor and creativity could shine as she's amassed a tremendous following over the years. I've had the pleasure of seeing Jean in countless venues from big stages to crammed basements, record stores and even at New York University. Now that I'm living outside of NYC and with the pandemic, I hope new opportunities present itself to tap in to her live shows and performances. The sky's always been the limit for Jean, so this look back at some of my favorite cuts from Jean just scratches the surface. If you haven't peep'd her show, Life With Jeanie, you know you done fuck'd up, right? Happy Birthday, Jean - it's always been and always will be all love! 

Happy Born Day, Jean! Much love...