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Under The Influence: How East Coast Lyrics And West Coast Funk Inspire Rapper Graphik

Rapper and wordsmith Graphik is the future of West Coast Hip-Hop. As a conscious artist, he shares his life experiences, thoughts, and aspirations through his insightful and relatable lyrics. Originally from South Central LA, Graphik is currently based in Long Beach. The rich flows, beats, and rhymes of both hip-hop rich California cities are represented in his music as well as an East Coast feel. As he puts it, his musical style “is a healthy blend of West-coast funk with East-coast lyricism.”

Graphik isn’t new to rapping as he started writing verses and songs during classes in high school under the name “Ink-One.” His love for the craft and lifestyle grew rapidly after those formative years and he began to perform with a live band. He released numerous projects under “Ink-One” until he decidedly changed his name to “Graphik” to signify his growth as an artist. His latest EP ‘A Graphik Novel’ documents his growth and so much more. During this Under the Influence interview, Graphik discusses his inspiration, expressing himself through music, and his Steereo exclusive track called ‘Paper.’

 

Listen to ‘A Graphik Novel’ By Graphik Below

 

What was your first introduction to music? Can you describe the moment?

Music was always being played in my family, my dad had old school reel-to-reel’s that he would play Nigerian music on. He also had a record player and he would sometimes play Michael Jackson or James Brown. That’s probably my earliest memory of music.

 

Which artists and/or groups are major influences to your style of music? If possible, how would you say they have impacted you personally and musically?

I’d say the 90’s West Coast style is very apparent in my delivery, but I’m also very heavily influenced by Southern groups like UGK and Outkast. East Coast lyricism and wordplay also fascinate me, so I try to emulate some of my favorite wordsmiths like Nas.

 

What is your opinion on artists moving away from larger genres like hip-hop and carving their own path?

I think it’s great. Anytime you can make something unique, or your own, I say go for it. I think there will always be sub-genres to any main style of art simply because we as artists like to try new things and push the envelope.

 

Photo of Graphik Via Facebook

 

When you are creating your sound do you consider the larger genre your song may fall into? How do you define your musical genre?

Defining my sound has been extremely difficult to do. However, I think my genre is firmly rooted in Hip-Hop. I’d like to begin to branch out and expand my sound to be something more than that.  The closest thing I can call it would be Hip-Hop mixed with funk or neo-soul.

 

Do you have a new song or signature track that captures your sound and/or style?

I think my song ‘Paper’ which is currently a Steereo exclusive really captures my sound and style. It’s got a bit of bounce and barefaced realness on the track in hopes that my audience can relate to my situation.

Listen to the Steereo Exclusive ‘Paper’ by Graphik

What thoughts or ideas emerged when you created your song “Paper”? What do you hope listeners take away from listening to it?

I’ve recently begun to think much more about money. The concept of it, it’s power, and different ways one can work with it. I want listeners to take away how fleeting money is, and how in of itself it’s not actually useful to us — unless we make it so.

 

What was the creative process like while writing “Paper”? Were there any intentional lyrics featured in the song?

“Paper” was born out of verses that I would write every day. I wrote the first verse, then came back another day and wrote the hook.  After I had the hook and heard there was some bounce to it, the second verse came with ease!

I included the line, “I ain’t got no paper, just knowledge/ I gotta piece of paper that says I paid for some knowledge,” for all those kids who were told it was absolutely necessary to get a college degree and felt duped once they received it.

“Go from main job to two different side hustles/ All that runnin’ round you’d think I’d have some thigh muscles” – This line makes me laugh but I’m really talking about how people like me have to work two jobs just to get by, and how it feels like you’re never gaining traction or getting ahead.

 

Are you working on any new projects or new releases that you would like audiences to know about? Do you have any upcoming performances?

I’m working on releasing three tracks before the end of the year. I’d like to release “Paper,” “Shine Bright,” and “Red Alert.” I will also be releasing a music video for “Paper,” and “Lookin’ For Ya.” I have a performance coming up on November 27th at PayDay LA at The Virgil in Los Angeles

 

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself, the creative process, etc?

I think feedback from fans and communication really drives me to create more. I’m doing everything I can to build my fan base so I love receiving any and all ideas, and suggestions.

Watch the Music Video for “I’m A Legend” by Graphik

 

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Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.