Che Grand Jumps “In The Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, NY -- This past Tuesday, we jumped "In the Mix" with Really Doe, the Chi-town emcee and Go Getters alumnus who recently brought us "Marvelous." For the seventh installment of our Booth-exclusive interview series, we're giving readers an up-close and personal look at Che Grand, a London-born, NYC-raised emcee/songwriter last seen on album leak "Gold Chains (Part Deux)."
Born to Nigerian parents in Great Britain, Che harbored dreams of being an artist from the age of nine, and began his grind upon moving to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn in '03. Now, after releasing several successful online mixtapes and an acclaimed digital-only EP (Official Bootleg Import), Che has reached his biggest career milestone yet: Tuesday, the 18th, he dropped his long-awaited debut studio album off Believe Digital. Including previously-featured cuts "Chateau Gold," "Girls Talk," "Too Much Too Soon" (w/ Colin Munroe), and the aforementioned "Gold Chains," Che's Everything's Good Ugly LP is available now from all major online retailers.
In this Booth-exclusive, five-question interview, Che Grand discusses the inspiration behind his debut album's title, whether or not independent artists can survive and flourish off digital-only sales, and why he considers his live performances can't-miss events.
What is the story behind the title of your new album, "Everything's Good Ugly"?
Everything's Good Ugly is my personal take on life. It's about maintaining a positive outlook in the most negative situations. You know, "The cup is always half full," "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," the sayings we've all heard. I wanted to approach the personal subjects on my album in a honest way and make encouraging music. There's braggadocio songs also, but its about having a balance and giving the listener every part of you.
Do you follow the motto "Everything's Good Ugly" when choosing women, cars or clothes?
Again, it's about looking at the brighter side of things. Naturally, people want everything to be good. I've driven plenty of beat up cars, lemons with a dummy tire and non-working windows, but I was good because of a new stereo! That's good ugly! (laughs) Another example is fried broccoli with cheese; vegetables are supposed to be good for you. Ha! As for choosing women, I'd rather stay away from a good looking woman with an ugly attitude; ugly women with good attitudes... we can be friends (laughs).
You've shared a stage with Kid Cudi, Blu, Tanya Morgan, and The Cool Kids to name a few. What makes a Che Grand performance stand out amongst a vast sea of rappers?
Raw energy. Its a very upbeat live show. If you see [my live show], I give my all regardless of how many are in attendance. I just like to have fun. I encourage dancing, smiling... sh*t, come on stage if you feel compelled and we'll rock out!
Everything's Good Ugly was released Tuesday, through Believe Digital. Do you think that a digital-only format will allow independent hip-hop to flourish long-term?
No. While I'm happy for companies like Believe, who help Indie artists push their material online, an independent artist can't flourish long-term off digital-only. There are still people that enjoy the physical format, and I really don't think it will die out. For example, vinyl has seen a very sufficient increase in sales recently. People still want to touch the music. I plan to have a physical release in stores (and at my shows) early this coming winter.
In the press release for the new project, you were quoted as saying: "Artists respected for making great bodies of work have always caught my ear." Whose recording career has created the most impressive "body of work"?
There are way too many albums for me to name, but Parliament/Funkadelic had some amazing albums, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles. On the Hip Hop side, A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, and Outkast have several classics. And I'm in the majority that says Thriller is one of the best ever.