Filed under: Features,Interviews,Not Your Average,Rap Veterans,Uptown Kicking It
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Concluding my discussion with Percy Carey, he talks about battling DMX, missing out on his spot on “Live At The BBQ”, working with Kool G Rap and the continuing process of recovery from his injuries.
Robbie: It seems like there were two separate leagues of MC’s. Guys like Mikey D didn’t care about making records because they were so focused on street respect for battling. Is that how you felt?
MF Grimm: That’s exactly how I felt. At the time, people I was with and things of that nature, money wasn’t an issue. It was a street rep. You wanted to be known for that. “Don’t go against him! Don’t waste your time!” I bring up DMX, because he came to me. We were at a Def Jam Christmas party, and he wanted to battle me. His boys were from the street, and my boys were from the street, and they all knew each other. They were just talking about it, “I don’t think your boy is better than my boy!” “What?” So it just started that way. I wasn’t even in the mood that day, but I had to. Far as I’m concerned, I destroyed him. I like X. Then he turned around and battled Jay-Z, that’s the way it was.
How does street battling differ from an organized battle?
If somebody’s with his crew of thirty people, and you’re just with your girlfriend, are you going to get a fair, non-biased result? Possibly not. Same as boxing, there’s no dispute if you knock him out. The object isn’t to try to make the crowd “ooh” and “ahh”, the object is sometimes to make the persons crew approve you. To the point where they’re like, “He’s good!” Certain people, you just make them quit. They can’t take no more. They ain’t go rhymes left, then you got it! That situation with me and DMX, there was a crowd! Harry Allen was out there, it was a Christmas party. If it’s one on one, one of you will know! When you’re punishing somebody, they can feel it! There’s no denying it.
Would you have a catalog of rhymes for these battles?
When I first started, I would just improvise and go off the top. After that, I started writing. I get offended when people say, “You’re not an MC if you don’t go off the top!” Making like writing is a crime. As a Black man in America, I take that as an insult, I feel like it’s subliminal bullshit where people want to get you away from a pen and paper. Back then, freestyle was two different things – it was a written that no one ever heard before, or it was off the top of your head. How dare some one say that because I have seven thousand rhymes in my head that I’m not equivalent to somebody making something spur of the moment! From the moment I lost that battle with Supernatural, I dedicated myself to being a writer. No more battling. I’mma learn to be like Edgar Allen Poe.
There was an article in RapPages about a song with B-1, you and Freddie Foxxx over a Lord Finesse beat. Do you remember that?
That was a song from my album, it was called “Takin’ Niggas With Me:. I’ve dying to find someone who has it. When I got shot, there was a report I was dead, and the studio that my reel was in, they stole my reel. Everything was on there. That was on there, I had stuff by Dante Ross, SD-50’s, that was a crazy album, man.
Was that for a label?
Because of the Battle for World Supremacy, there was a gentleman there named Kevin Woodley, he was an A&R for Atlantic Records and he was interested in signing me. The day I was meant to have a meeting with him I got shot.
Fate has dealt you some difficult cards.
It’s only difficult when you’re dead! All you can do is keep going. But I understand what you mean, you’re right. Without struggle there’s no progress, there’s a reason for it. You’ve got to search within and understand why you’re the one that has to go through that journey and not try to push it onto someone else.
Do you think an engineer has that reel in a box somewhere?
I don’t know. That’s a hot song. That was for my album, B-1 was on it, Finesse came in and did the beat and Freddie Foxxx happened to be in the studio that day, and he heard it. He came in and he was like, “Yo! Let me get on this!” I’m like, “Yo, get on!” He blessed us and ripped it. I tell people about it now and they don’t believe me!
How long did it take to recover after you were shot?
It’s hard to say, ‘cos I’m still recovering. It’s been going on almost twenty years. I can feel my legs, I can feel my toes now. Everything changes. I’m always getting sensation back. This is a never-ending situation, it’s still happening as we speak. It took me a while to get my lungs back – six months, a year. I had two collapsed lungs. I got shot next to the throat, had to learn how to talk again. There was a lot of internal trauma and damage. Although it’s been nineteen years, that’s still nothing compared to the amount of damage that took place. I should be dead, so to take that long to recover is nothing.
At what stage did you want to get back in the booth?
They said I wouldn’t talk anymore, that’s like telling Michael Jordan he wouldn’t play ball anymore! You won’t walk and you won’t talk. All I could think about was “I won’t talk?” My legs I wasn’t really thinking about, but talking? I was like, “I’ve gotta figure this out!” I couldn’t use my arms either, I was paralysed from the neck down. I knew I was gonna fight back, in regards to my body, but my throat? All I ever wanted to do was be an MC, so I fought hard for it. It’s changed a lot, but I’m getting stronger.
What was the first step when you were able to talk again?
I went right into the studio and I made “Crumb Snatchers”.
The song from the Scars and Memories album?
Yeah, it had a lot of stuff that was never released, but there are a lot of songs that people will never hear, because those reels are gone.
You had a nice buzz from that “Take ‘Em To War” song with G Rap and B-1, right?
It was a good time for that. I worked hard on it in the studio, but Epic Records wanted to go with the one with Nas on it. They used “Take ‘Em To War” and “Money On The Brain” to promote the album – all the stickers and mixtapes – but for the video it was the one with him and Nas. I was kinda disappointed in that, but it is what it is.
What was the story with you and Joe Fatal getting into an accident with a taxi driver while you were driving G Rap’s car?
He wanted to get out and fight, and I knocked him out, which I regret now. We were in traffic, so we didn’t want to leave the car! So the cops came, I got locked-up. They held me longer because of the situation or whatever, and that’s when they recorded “Live At The BBQ”. That’s why I missed being on it. I can’t go back in time, I wish I could. That changed everyone’s lives on that record! Those were so good times, hanging at Large Professor’s house, watching him destroy the SP-12. We would go to my mom house and get records, then go to his house and watch him kill the record.
Were you working security for Kool G Rap at that time?
Nah, I would say it was more brothers. He was like an older brother,he was a good dude to me. No security. I learned a lot from him about life. He was a good person to me.
What do you recall about your first record, “So Whatchu Want”?
That was around the time, probably before that. The first verse of “So Whatchu Want” was really my verse for “Live At The BBQ”. I decided to keep going, like why let it go to waste. It was an independent label that we all started. Think about it, that was an independent label back then. We pressed it up ourselves and put it out, like “Fuck it!” It started everything. It was produced by Sean C from X-Ecutioners and Knobody, they went on to do “Can’t Knock The Hustle” and “Don’t Want To A Player”, Big Pun. It sounds a little muffled, that’s my fault. I went into the studio to mix and master it and I messed it up. They weren’t there for that.
Were you friends with B-1 at that stage?
We were together before 4,5,6. We were a group. It was me, B-1 and Grandmaster Roc Raida. It was great, he’s like a brother to me.
You’ve mentioned that you weren’t happy with the version of “Do It For The Kids” they released on Fondle ‘Em?
Looking back, I was a little bit of an asshole about it. That’s one they liked. Bob to this day is one of my dearest friends.
I liked the Hunt For The Gingerbread Man project you did.
Yeah, Stricknine, he’s a cool dude. It was fun to me because that’s an Australian release, and you see the impact it had over here, it was even more fun. I’ve never been to Australia but I feel like I’m part of it because of Hunt For The Gingerbread Man.
What do you attribute your references to Joseph Stalin and other concepts in your lyrics?
I’d have to go back to my mother. No matter I was trying to get into, she would always make sure I had a book in my hand. A dictionary, just something. She would try to make sure that I was focused, even when I wasn’t focused. When I was a kid she got me turntables and a microphone. She would always give me books about creative writing when I was young.
What’s your favorite book?
I would just say Watership Down, that’s a favorite.
Grimm Reaper – “So Whatcha Want Nigga?”
MF Grimm – “Emotions”
MF Grimm feat. Large Pro – “Untitled”
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