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Grafh - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Grafh - Black Handed

December 2005

For a couple of years now, the hype for Grafh's "Autografh" album has been building. Originally the album was set for release through Black Hand/Sony, but now it looks like a Dame Dash/Universal release alongside Black Hand may happen. I took time to speak with Grafh amidst lots of interruptions as Grafh walked around Queensbridge, New York.

MVRemix: What's your first memory of Hip Hop?

Grafh: Man, let me think... I can't remember my first memory because I grew up in and around the generation where Hip Hop was the dominant youth culture, so I don't remember the first memory. But I remember the most vivid memory that made me want to do this shit; it was the Nas album, Nas' first album ("Illmatic") was when I really started to write.

MVRemix: How did moniker "Grafh" arise?

Grafh: Grafh came about through... It was a name that my dudes in the hood gave me just from art, I used to draw. Rap is art almost, like I would spray paint and shit - I used to draw. I was as good with the pencil as I was with the words. So now that I've grown up with the music, I use the same content. The name that sits on your brain more or less.

MVRemix: What happened with your Sony deal?

Grafh: Sony? Nothin', they fucked up. They don't even know how to market an artist of my calibre. They only know how to market artists with no substance, other commercial artists, cookie cutter rhymes is all they know how to put out and I'm real different than that. I'm a real artist and a real star so there's certain things they've got to make specific and they wanted to do some B2K shit. I've got to do what I've got to do man. I make real music for real people and they couldn't do that so we couldn't see eye to eye. We had some differences.

MVRemix: I read in another interview that you said Black Hand were over 10,000 strong. Is this the case?

Grafh: Yeah, somewhere around that.

MVRemix: How did the crew get to be so large?

Grafh: Well it started before I was born, it actually started in a Federal Penitentiary, started by Chaz Williams. He's the CEO of Black Hand, the man and chief. I'm the president.

MVRemix: Tell me about the current version of "Autografh."

Grafh: "Autografh" is loosely based on my life. It's introspective, personal. It's based on my challenges to me now as a man. The album's for real people, I'm a realist. My signature on the game. Me signing my name on the game, etching my mark in history and on the minds of the people. It's really just me describing who I am, why I'm here... It's definitely a beautiful thing, it's definitely a movement and I really want the listener to feel what I feel when I write this type of shit. It's definitely gonna be a collectors item.

MVRemix: Has it changed much since the finished version you were going to put out through Sony?

Grafh: Definitely, I recorded a whole new album but it's definitely still me... Who I am. Yeah, the track listing changed for the most part.

MVRemix: Has the original version leaked through mixtape tracks?

Grafh: When I did the original version, I leaked that shit to the web. So you can check out, some of my songs are on there, a lot of my songs are all over the web. Put my name in Google, check it out, I've got stuff all over the place. I leaked that out to the streets.

MVRemix: If you had to compare the album to a designer clothing label or a particular luxury car, which would you choose and why?

Grafh: Probably a BMW

MVRemix: Why?

Grafh: Because of the sleek style and the way it handles the streets... The way it moves on terrains on the ground. That's what it is.

MVRemix: I spoke with Phoebe One recently and said she'd been working with the Black Hand clique - did the two of you work together at all?

Grafh: Right, right, right. We went around Queens, I showed her in the hoods were we at and we did a record. She's good people man and it came out kinda hot. So I'm playin' it kind of foul, it's gonna come out crazy in the UK. Definitely a crazy song.

MVRemix: What are your thoughts on the Peedi Crack track, "Fuck Dame Dash"?

Grafh: I never heard it, I never heard the record. So I ain't got no thoughts on that, I don't know nothin' about it. They both two grown men, they can handle they own shit. I don't know nothin' about that shit.

MVRemix: Where do you stand drama between Chaz Williams and 50 Cent?

Grafh: Ain't no drama. I don't know 50, but Chaz is my man. He managed 50 before he was working with me. But whatever they got it's all water under the bridge. Just a lot of confusion. Ain't really no drama and I don't want people to think that because then they relate it to the danger and they say there's gonna be a war. We ain't got beef with 50, not like that.

MVRemix: When can we expect another mixtape like "The Oracle"?

Grafh: Go to my website, you can get it online at Check your bootleggers and your stores out there, they got it... They should.

MVRemix: Yeah, but I was curious about another one a follow up...

Grafh: Oh, hell yeah! I got a new one coming out, it's called "Classic" and it's put out by Kay Slay, Clinton Sparks and Dame Dash and it's really hot, I want y'all to really get into it. It's not on the website yet but it will be in about a week or two. It'll be in stores and all over the web soon.

MVRemix: Tell me about the movie you're working on.

Grafh: Oh yeah we got a big movie comin' out called "Inside Out" that's gonna be in theatres by the end of next year. It's based on the life of Chaz Williams, that's the CEO of Black Hand and also he was also with me when my father got shot - my father got shit right in front of me. He know... He an OG president across the country. His life was crazy, he spent 15 years in prison, he used to rob banks, extortion, all kinds of crazy shit. The movie's gonna be crazy so y'all definitely gotta check for that.

MVRemix: What do you do to relax?

Grafh: Chill with my friends and family man, that's it. I am a workaholic, I'm a machine. I take no days off, I work all the time and that's what I believe in. My Grandmama told me, "If you don't work, you don't eat." I'ma eat a whole lot, I'm finna eat all the time. So I work 24/7. Relaxin' to me is stayin' at home and doin' not a god damned thing. Spendin' it with my friends and family, that's a beautiful thing to me.

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Grafh: That's a funny ass question, I've never given that much thought. Who's ass would I like to kick? I don't fuckin' know. I know nobody wanna fight me. They don't wanna deal with me or my clique, Black Hand are the strongest niggas in the country. I don't know who I wanna fight, I don't fuckin' know 'cause I don't have any problems with nobody because a lot of the other artists I don't really know 'em. A lot of the artists I do know I get along with just great because they real people and I get along with real people. If you a real nigga I'll associate with you. My man Bun B, Scarface, you know I was on Lil' Flip's album. Who else? A handful of people. I like a lot of niggas that I feel is good individuals.

MVRemix: Apart from promoting the album, what upcoming projects do you have in the works? collabo's etc.

Grafh: I did a record with Swizz Beatz called "Ain't No Tellin" and it's crazy. On B.E.T. there's a show Dame Dash got called "Ultimate Hustler," a reality show. And they got on the camera's me and Swizz Beatz makin' the track "Ain't No Tellin'," it's crazy. That's on TV now, I heard the episode played last night. A lot of people I got with features are not gonna be on my album "Autografh." It's me really signing my name on the game in a personal note. So I don't just surround myself with features for the album. Grafh's gonna be on the album and a lot of new producers that are real innovative and creative are puttin' it down with me on this upcoming album so I got a song with Bun B. It will be more along the lines of rock, I don't listen to a lot of Hip Hop, I think most of these niggas suck right now. In my CD player all I got is old rap. I got Biggie Smalls first album, I got Snoop Dogg's first album, I got a couple Tupac mixtapes, I got Led Zepplin, I got Audioslave, I got Coldplay. I got different stuff, different shit. I don't listen to this rap shit, niggas is trash. If I do anything creative it's original, that's what it is.

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