Published on July 31st, 2023 | by MuzikScribe


Gripsta: Still Kickin’ Reality Rhymes


Let’s hop right into this fiery remix single / video, “THIS IS CALI “ [Scar Lip] — Tell me about this particular track; how did it actually come to fruition?

First off, thank you so much for having me for this interview. I appreciate it, and I’m happy to be able to holler at you guys. So the remix song came about through my God-brother, who happens to be from Brooklyn, New York, himself. He hit me and said it would be dope if you did the California version of Scar Lip’s “This Is New York,” and did one for Cali. I said, “bet!”And the rest is history.

Now does this release actually signify your long overdue return to music?

Oh yeah, this most definitely signifies my long overdue return. I consider this track the appetizer . This is letting the people know I’m back . I’m sitting at the table again, and I’m serving this up first before the main course.

What all exactly had / have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, during your lengthy hiatus from music?

Man, I’ve been up to a lot…went to college, taught special ed…had two sons, became (an) entrepreneur, did some acting here and there, and still making music here and there when people would ask me to drop a verse for them .I never completely separated from music, I just hadn’t focused on releasing my own project.

What was it about now, in 2023 specifically, that prompted this resurgence?

You know that’s a good question I get asked that a lot in interviews. I think it’s a couple things. Number one, I just felt like the time was now. I had became overwhelmed with people, especially overseas, asking me for a project, so I came to accept that this music in my head needs to be completed and brought full circle. Secondly, my God-sister, Ice-T’s daughter, pulled me aside when she was in town for his awarding of his star on the (Hollywood) Walk of Fame. She sat me down and said, “listen, you’re getting back in the studio, and you’re going to make a project…and I’m not taking no for an answer!” And, she’s been very instrumental in helping me plot my return.

Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Brandi Younger?

My first inception into music was very young. I would watch my father play R&B records around the house; Sade, Keith Washington, New Edition, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross…and that music always made me happy and touched me in a spiritual way. Then when rap came along, I really got into it because it was something a little bit more hip and younger that I can relate to. I started watching Yo! MTV Raps, and after watching Left Eye of TLC I decided to try rapping myself.

Now you’re a native of Oakland, by way of Los Angeles, CA, correct? So growing up in ‘The Town,’ who all else did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?

Yes, so I’m an Oakland native, meaning I was born in the Bay Area in Oakland; my whole family, mom and dad side, are from Oakland, and still reside in Oakland. My mother moved me to Los Angeles when I was 10…however, I’ve been back and forth visiting throughout my life. I consider myself a hybrid with a strong Los Angeles influence, since I did technically grow up in Los Angeles as a teenager. I would say my musical influences were from people all over; such as Ice cube, DJ Quik, N.W.A., Too $hort, Ice-T, (A) Tribe Called Quest, Naughty By Nature, Nas, TLC, Spice 1, 2Pac, South Central Cartel…I feel like even George Michael, Madonna and Janet Jackson also influenced me.

In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?

I classify my style as New Age Gangsta Rap / Boss Rap. I still have the same vibe. I just updated my cadence and delivery, so that I can be fresh and up-to-date with how rap is delivered now. I don’t concentrate on trying to just make the raps sound complicated, I concentrate on being real and raw. I kick reality rhymes. No gimmicks and no chaser, even if I’m rapping sexy…and I think that’s what draws people to me as an MC.

Where does your moniker originally derive from?

The name Grip was given to me in junior high school. I actually started a small gang and I was the head of it, and they thought that was the Gangsta name that I should have because it sounds hard. I don’t quite remember how the “STA” got added on to the Grip.

As a lyricist, when you sit down to pen your rhymes where do you draw your inspiration from? 

Like I mentioned earlier, I sat down and wrote my first rhyme at about 13…and I’ve always been a deep thinker and a person that’s very, very passionate about my views of the world and things around me. I always felt like I had something to say, and rapping allowed me to say it for people to listen.

What particular string of events led to your initial linking up with Ice-T and later inking with A&M Records?

I met Ice at an ASCAP rap competition where I was participating in the finals. He saw me get on stage alone at about 14. He liked how I was bold and rocked the mic, and he took me under his wing. He signed me to Rhyme Syndicate Productions, shopped my record, got a bidding war going, and we went with A&M.

Although a lead single, “Pop Goz the 9,” leaked, your then highly anticipated solo debut was ultimately shelved — How come; what had happened?

Yeah, so “Pop Goz the 9” was my lead single. Ice directed a dope ass video for it! It was leaked, and that video had just got approved by BET and MTV for airtime! Then A&M Records dropped their whole rap division of their company, so I got dropped with it. My album didn’t necessarily get shelved because they just straight up told me they were never gonna put it out. I couldn’t walk with it because by then I owed them all of the money that they gave me because it was spent making the record.

What do you remember most about this particular time in both your life and career?

I remember being very excited at first. I was very, very young, so I was just going through the motions of trying to balance schoolwork, being an artist, and still maintaining a social life. I also remember feeling very disappointed, and feeling like I lost everything once I lost my deal because the publicist disappeared. The lawyers disappeared. The stylist disappeared. The praise disappeared. Even my friends disappeared. Having everything and then losing it was no joke.

Switching gears here, if you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could work with anybody, it would be a legend like Madonna; somebody that’s going to take me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to really be even more creative. I would also have loved to work with 2pac and Whitney Houston if they were still alive. I just love the passion in their music. They both kept it so real. I’m also a big fan of Mary J. Blige, for the same exact reason. As far as current artists go, I would love to work with YG. He is so West Coast and, as you know, I love my coast..

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

If I could play at any venue, I think it would be Madison Square Garden. When you can sell out Madison Square Garden, you’ve pretty much made it. Plus, New York is just such a vibe; so many great artist have played there before me.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop? And even more specifically, women in rap?

I’m not happy about the current state of Hip Hop, but I’m okay with letting it evolve. What makes me not overjoyed about it is the lack of concepts. A lot of the music is just repeating the same thing, and there’s not as much depth in the songs . The music now is definitely processed and more manufactured, and you can tell a lot of these artists are chosen as gimmicks; including many of the females, when before people just produced raw art, and it was what it was. I do regret that now female rappers have to be over-sexualized…but I do also love that women can be sexy, and no longer have to be tomboys to be able to rap amongst men. So there’s pros and cons to all of it.

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your success?

The success that I have had has been strictly achieved by believing in myself. Without that, I would be nowhere. Believing in myself, and not being scared or shy, is how I met Ice and it’s how I opened up so many doors for me. And although I have had some success, I have so much more of a way to go and so much more work to do.

Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

I have a few future aspirations . I wanna get back into film. I wanna write a story about my life, and get it turned into a movie. I have had so many wins and losses, and I think that it would be a very intriguing story for people to share in . Especially living in Oakland during the crack epidemic, I could go on and on about what would make a movie about my life very interesting, but we would be here talking all day.

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

I think aside from getting my record deal, my biggest career moment would be getting a role in the movie, ‘Dangerous Minds,’ and working with Michelle Pfeiffer and Andy Garcia. Andy Garcia actually played her boyfriend in the movie, but he was cut out…nevertheless, just having breakfast with those two superstars every morning really was something I’ll never forget.

What’s an average day like for you?

An average day for me involves getting up, catching a vibe; meaning gathering my thoughts for what I need to do to face the day. Being raised as an only child, I’m a loner, and I like to be left alone. I really don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer texting, and I don’t keep a lot of people around me because that’s how shit get started. I try to get my exercise in, my Sea Moss taken…and then sitting down with some beats and writing, spending time with my sons, making sure I have contact for more platforms on social media and making money moves.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…

One thing I do do is interact and respond to fans. I try to go through all the messages in my DMs, and acknowledge people and thank them for their support because without them, there would be no reason to make music. A lot of fans have shared with me their personal life struggles, and how just with the songs of mine that they’ve been exposed to over the years (how) those songs have helped them through hard times, and that means so much to me! I always try to lend an ear and let them know that they matter to me!

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?

My favorite part of the line of work of rapping would be performing and doing shows. I love going on stage and being able to personally vibe out with the audience after creating music in the studio (and) performing it in front of a live audience just brings it full circle. My least favorite line of work is performing and doing shows…I know that sounds crazy, but that’s also my least favorite. It can be dangerous. I don’t like letting people know when and where I’m going to be anywhere; that’s why I don’t post my location on Instagram until after I leave any location…so doing shows and performing for rappers makes you very vulnerable. Rap has become a very dangerous profession, and it seems like there’s always somebody plotting.

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

Advice I would have for somebody wanting to follow in my footsteps would be to go forward and never give up. I think there was a time when I somewhat gave up on myself after I thought I lost everything, but in hindsight I didn’t lose everything . My talent never left. I couldn’t let it just go to waste. I had to make my comeback…but time is valuable, so I would tell any young person don’t waste it, learn the business aspect, keep only people you can trust with your LIFE around you and never give up.

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?

In five years, I see myself with a couple albums under my belt. My dream is to actually win a Grammy for one of my – as Ice calls it – smart songs. I plan to be heading my own label and bringing up other aspiring artists, as well as working on a movie about my life. But most of all, I see myself ducked off where people can’t fuck with me ‘cause I really don’t like to be fucked with. I’m outgoing, but I’m also an introvert…so a big house tucked away in the cut near a lake would be just fine for me.

As for the immediate, what’s next for you, Gripsta?

What’s next for me? Is continuing to work on this album, and give the people some heat; make some fun interesting videos, and finally get a chance to show the world my artwork.

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

I think you asked great questions…I don’t think it was too much that we didn’t cover, but I would just like to say thank you for having me for this interview, and I would like to send a message to the readers that life is what you make it. Don’t let what you see on TV and social media fool you. We all have struggles, we all go through things, and we’re all human. Nobody’s life is perfect; not rappers, not internet models, not the people “Ballin’ for the Gram,” nor celebrities, so don’t compare your life to other people. Just keep striving for your dreams, stay loyal to the soil, and you can’t lose…and be sure to follow me on Instagram @grip_sta, and from there you’ll find links to find me on all the other platforms.

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