Published on July 18th, 2022 | by MuzikScribe


Grxwn Fxlks: Raw Beats, Real Rhymes


Please introduce for me the members of Grxwn Fxlks…

Masai Turner – Emcee

Akil Esson – Producer

Let’s hop right into this single / video, “Celebrate” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition? 

Although Akil and I have been creating music in various forms for years, “Celebrate” was our first song as Grxwn Fxlks. We wanted to make sure we established ourselves as a group that makes music with messages that matter. This song was written just to remind us all to take a step back and recognize what’s really important. When you do that, the things that we typically take for granted can become much more valuable. Security, Family, the chance to live another day… I wrote the majority of this song in Paramount Studios [Los Angeles] with those things on my mind. Later Akil played bass and Rhodes on the bridge and the outro, so I matched that with some melody which really transformed the Boom-Bap of the first half of the song into something that we felt was original and special.

Of course “Celebrate” comes courtesy of your new project, Volume 1: Independent — Although pretty straight and to the point, still tell me, conceptually, what this title represents both to and for you all?

The title has a lot of meaning for us. The Volume 1 part is just to signal to our fans and supporters to expect more. We intend to release another album this year [Volume II]. The Independent part goes a lot deeper. On this album independence is a consistent theme from multiple perspectives. From a personal perspective, I’m sharing a lot of the mentality and approach I took to survive some of the personal challenges I faced as a teenager. My father was a single parent and died from a heart attack when I was in high school. From that point on I was essentially a homeless / orphan and had to figure life and survival out on my own in the street. Those lessons and values shine through directly and indirectly on this album. From a group perspective Akil & I write and produce every song. Sometimes I’ll take a peek at an artists’ song credits and see 10, 12, 15 credited contributors for one song. I’m not knocking that, but we take a lot of pride in our ability to create quality music as a self-contained duo. Akil plays every instrument that we would need to incorporate into our music, plus he is incredible in the digital and sampling world. I’m continuing to push myself to write lyrics that resonate with people who participate in and have a deep appreciation for Hip Hop culture. Songs like “Grxwn Fxlks,” featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff, and “Say Their Names” really have struck the exact chords we wanted them to with our growing audience. Lastly, from a business perspective Authentic Recordings [my record label] is as independent as a label can be. I manage, finance, and executive produce every aspect of our projects. From marketing to promotion to merchandise, etcetera, I drive the creative vision for Grxwn Fxlks independently.

Volume 1: Independent contains high profile appearances from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Raheem DeVaughn, Mysonne and Nikki Jean — How did y’all even manage to execute these collabs?  

Everything we do is based on strong relationships. Nikki Jean has been my good friend for more than 20 years dating back to our High School circle of friends in Pittsburgh. I just was hanging with her last week. Raheem DeVaughn and I both have a close mutual friend, Wes Felton, so hanging with Wes in DC just organically connected me to Raheem. DJ Jazzy Jeff is both Akil and my favorite DJ on the planet, but again in this instance we were brought together by a couple of friends that connected us for the album. This is how we prefer to work. We like our collaborations to present themselves naturally when they make sense. The music tends to have more chemistry and vibe that way. Relationships are everything.

Volume 1: Independent is being distributed through The Orchard — What particular string of events led to this union? 

I hate to keep ringing the same bell, but The Orchard deal was brought to the table by one of my very close music industry friends. He introduced me to some of his folks at The Orchard and we all started having conversations over about a 6 month period. We must have done 8 Zooms over that period of time. What I love about the situation with The Orchard is that they made the decision to rock with us because they love the music and believe in our vision. We made the decision to put our music in their hands because of a proven track record of helping independent labels reach their goals. Both sides are very excited for this release!

Can y’all talk to me a lil bit about this upcoming  doc, Independent: a Hiphopumentary

Imagine being a fly on the wall while Grxwn Fxlks produce and record their first album. That’s the documentary. Akil and I are both documentary junkies so we understood going in that it would be important to document our story. We did laps around the country chasing down our sound and were able to collaborate with some of the best in the business while doing it. Not bad for a couple of dudes from a little city in south western Pennsylvania. We’re going to do a few screenings and festivals. After the festival run is over, we’ll release it more generally on a video streaming platform or YouTube perhaps.

Masai, as an emcee, when you sit down to pen your rhymes where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I really draw it from real life experience, introspection, refection, and conversations I’ve had along the way that have stuck with me. Also, Hip Hop culture has given me so much… I’m always trying to repay that debt.

Reflecting, tell me y’all’s whole inception into music — When did you all become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Grxwn Fxlks?

We both started our separate love affairs with Hip Hop very early in high school. We’ve both been in a few different groups in the past that made their own brands of noise, but nothing as solid as Grxwn Fxlks. Akil and I met in our college years and respected each other from afar. We knew that we would eventually make music together. Grxwn Fxlks was born out of just wanting to push ourselves further as artists in a more authentic and undeniable way.

Now y’all are natives of Pittsburgh, PA, correct? So growing up in the ‘Steel City,’ who all did / do you all consider to be your strongest musical influences?

There are too many to name BUT…the ones we have most in common are Native Tongues (De La, Tribe, etcetera), Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Nas…and the list goes on forever from there. There was a strong East Coast influence within our scene in Pittsburgh. Those influences still impact us today. I will also say that we have very different influences individually. Our personal music encyclopedias allow us to communicate and reference at a different level, which benefits our writing and production greatly.

In having said that, how do you all classify y’all’s overall sound and / or style?  

Raw Beats | Real Rhymes. Where does the group’s moniker originally derive from? At the time we started to form the group, there was an overwhelming amount of Lils, Youngs, Babies, YN this and YN that. We just didn’t connect or associate with that immature approach to marketing, branding, and music. To draw a line between this and a continued investment by the industry to present ignorance, misogyny, violence, addiction, etcetera, as the face of Hip Hop, we named ourselves Grxwn Fxlks.

Switching gears here…

To date, what has been your greatest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?

Our greatest achievement to date will be the release of Volume 1: Independent. We are really proud of this work more than anything else we’ve accomplished musically.

What’s an average day like for you all?

Akil and I are both professionals in the real world. We don’t rely on the music industry to put food on our tables. That allows us to take risks, and to be true to ourselves in music and music business. So our average day is working regular business hours…then using the rest of our time for family, for business, and to create. Learning balance is something I highly recommend.

Please discuss how you all interact with and respond to fans… 

We are direct when it comes to communicating with our fans. We respond to nearly every comment, DM, email, etcetera. We’ve also been moving towards having our fans text us directly instead of relying on a social platform to be our main mode of communication. When those platforms change the rules, you can lose contact with your fanbase. Removing the middleman allows us to control the interactions and make them be more timely and authentic.

What is y’all’s favorite part about this line of work? Y’all’s least favorite? And, why? 

Our favorite part has always been performing. That became more clear as the pandemic progressed. Our whole plan in 2020 was to tour and bring the music to the people. When that was taken away due to the pandemic, we found it more difficult to connect with fans as artists. Our least favorite is the waiting. Waiting to hit the stage, waiting for the music to come out, waiting for the flight, waiting for things to render, waiting for the food to come, waiting for the opening act to finish, waiting of any kind.

What advice would you all have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Be honest about who you are and present that as authentically to the world as possible. A lot of energy can be spent trying to conform to other’s expectations of what they think you should be. The more YOU you are, the more you will stand out and the easier it will be to be consistent as an artist.

Lastly, what’s next for Grxwn Fxlks?

Volume II this winter. A ton of shows throughout the next year. Overall…just growth. We want our music to be heard by as many people as possible. We want to make real connections with the people who dig our vibrations and tunes, well beyond likes and comments.

Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?  

Yes, and we’re kind of disappointed that you did…“Biggie Smalls is the illest!”

Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?

Listen to your gut, that’s how the universe speaks to you.



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