War Medals For A Rhyme-Vet (Interview with Guy Grams)

Okay without devolving into a quip about HBO’s The Wire, we can all agree in terms of “tha realness”, Baltimore is “that place!” However until the last few years, I would be hard-pressed to name any hip-hop impact from the city, aside from the Baltimore Club sub-genre that peaked nationally back around George W. Bush’s second term.

Perhaps it’s that underdog, chip-on-the-shoulder working-class mentality that filtered through because the clique of Guy Grams, Dirt Platoon, Ill Conscious, Jay Royale and Jamil Honesty are making consistent fire music without ever diluting one inch of that raw, real boom-bap (that we at Weekly Rap Gods love!).

With his gruff delivery, animated flow, and heavily-tatted exterior, Grams has become proficient in delivering introspective tracks from the have-not’s side of the tracks. His newest release War Medals (a full collaboration with Australian beat-maker The Prxspect) was just released and he is in the process of completing a full-length for Almighty Grams (the duo he formed with Raf Almighty of Dirt Platoon). Below is our conversation with him.

INTERVIEW

So War Medals is your first solo release since 2019’s Gramzilla, correct? What set the spark for this project?

One main thing that changed from the Gramzilla effort is that I recently became a father. This record is probably more personal in many ways. With becoming a new father, my perspective deepened in some ways & with this effort I think we really took a grown man approach.

How did you connect with The Prxspect? Did you pick the beats from his stash before recording or did he provide beats along the way?

The Prxspect & I have crossed paths a few times through our mutual associate (Ice Lord), who we both previously did projects with. I had recorded to a few of his beats & as he kept cooking up in the lab he was sending me beat packs regularly. We had been choppin’ it up for some time then finally decided to work on an official release. Even though we only spoke online & FaceTime (since he lives in Australia) the chemistry was on point from the jump!

War Medals by Guy Grams & The Prxspect

Can you explain the significance of the album title and album artwork for our readers?

Like I said before, I’m a new father & the artwork of a strong warrior walking through the darkness with & while protecting his young son resonated with me. Not to mention that Shogun Assassin (which the image was taken from) is one of my all time favorite kung-fu flicks! The significance of the album title War Medals also implies the scars we all proudly wear, whether mental or physical. This album also sheds light on our criminal justice system & also the lack of resources we offer our returning veterans of war. These are issues that have repeated and are prevalent throughout many decades of conflicts.

I know that you performed at our sponsored Cella Dwellas reunion show in NYC this past summer. What was that experience post-covid like? Was that your first time performing in NYC since the pandemic?

The 25th anniversary show at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan was most definitely an honor to take part in! Dope venue, atmosphere & crowd. Its always love when we get busy in NY! A few weeks prior to that show my whole Baltimore family took the trip up for the Rosenberg Top Shelf Premium event to perform in support of our brother Jay Royale, which was another great event & vibe! With all that being said it’s still so hard to set up a tour schedule or lock in many reliable dates anywhere throughout the country & abroad currently. First & foremost I consider myself a live emcee so I hope that you can count on catching me somewhere live in a city near you sooner or later!

Speaking of your Baltimore crew, how did you initially link up with Dirt Platoon and Ill Conscious? When did y’all decide to roll as a unit?

I met the Dirt Platoon back around the time I was running on the battle scene. We recorded a few joints at Break Fast Studios with Tom Delay & from then on we clicked. There’s alot of dope emcees in my area & as far as my Brothers in rhyme, Ill Conscious & Jay Royale the cream just rises to the top. We were all playing a lot of the same shows in our local area & one day the light bulb just clicked. The rest is history yet 2 b wrote from here on out!

That partnership has seemed to be a powerful one as y’all even toured Europe together (resulting in the Parimore project and documentary) we always hear that overseas audiences appreciate the real more currently. What was your impression of European rap audiences? How do they differ from shows you perform over in the states?

Parimore was a dope collaboration of Ill Conscious, Dirt Platoon, and myself with an all-star cast of parisian producers. As far as touring Europe, it’s not to much different from the states aside from the fact that they are more enthusiastic for the old school style of hip-hop. The European fans are very good students of the culture. Even with a language barrier, at times hip-hop can still bridge that gap that has the power to bring us all together!

So at this point you’ve been an emcee for over 15 years, correct? Including stints on the battle rap scene, can you tell us how you retain your passion for the craft and the underground without getting tempted to try to delve into trap or whatever other styles are on the charts?

Over 15 years deep, a lot of ups & downs. Really I have a deep love for the creative process & not everything has necessarily been about results based. Meaning if you love doing something, and you set & accomplish your own personal goals, it shouldn’t matter how many views or downloads it has. Doing something for so long it’s almost become an extension of myself. Overall I’m grateful for every listen, stream, share, & download. The supporters who let me know that they relate or that my music helped them get through a tough time is the real reason I still have some wind in my sails!

For almost two decades now we’ve been making “boombap underground” style music. That’s the vibe that I grew up to. Hip-Hop practically raised me! I don’t do fads or trends. The guys that are now on this “underground wave” were doing something else a few years ago. When the next wave of bullshit comes around, Guy Grams will still be right here doing that good ole Hip-Hop we love & remember.

That’s what’s up! Tell us what’s next for you? What are you working on?

I’m currently working on another solo effort, at the moment, to drop early next year along with hard-copies of War Medals on vinyl/cassette & commemorative pins & patches. We also currently finished recording the second installment of The AlmightyGrams! That album should be available early in ‘22 through a Canadian label called Elite Sounds International.

One thing is for certain, I’m nowhere near being close to done. I still have a few classics left in me! Appreciate you, your fanbase & all your readers. We started with nothing so everything we get is a blessing! Please stay locked in & continue to spread the good word.

Follow Guy Grams

https://instagram.com/guygramsmusic

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