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Jean Grae

Found Limited Recognition, Maximum Frustration

Early in 2000, Grae adopted the name Jean Grae, based on an X-Man comic book character who possessed telekinetic powers. Grae released her first solo album in 2002, Attack of the Attacking Things. Recorded in her tiny New York apartment in just two weeks, the album was rough around the mixes. Nonetheless the lyricism of the songs came through loud and clear. "What it lacks in flam and polish," wrote a Village Voice reviewer, "Attack makes up for with the determined and singular power of a compelling personal vision." The album struck a chord with those lucky enough to hear it, and despite no promotion, barely any radio play, and scant representation in even the most independent of record shops, Attack managed to sell over ten thousand copies.

Grae's way with words continued to impress on her second album, produced in 2003, The Bootleg of the Bootleg. "Grae's lyrical skills are deft in every sense of the word, period," wrote a reviewer for Vibe. The reviewer continued, "[Grae] employs tongue-twisting, gut-wrenching metaphors and with sheer ferocity declares that she's back on the scene with a vengeance." Grae also showed emotional diversity moving from the fury of "Hater's Anthem" to the soul-searching of "Take Me."

At a Glance...

Born Tsidi Ibrahim in 1976, in Capetown, South Africa; took the name Jean Grae, 2000; daughter of Abdullah Ibrahim (jazz musician) and Sathima Bea Benjamim (jazz singer). Education: Attended New York University, music business, 1992.

Career: Rapper, producer, 1990s–; Group Zero, rap group member (as What? What?), 1990s; Natural Resource, rap group member, 1996-99; Makin' Records, co-founder and producer, 1996-99(?);

Awards: Plug Independent Music Awards, Female Artist of the Year, 2004.

Addresses: Publicist—Biz 3 Publicity, 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave., #452, Chicago, IL, 60622. Web—www. jean-grae.com.

Grae described the album to Vibe as "dark." In it she lashed out against the recording industry and rap in particular. In the song "My Crew," she chanted, "Rap's dead, rap sucks, and thanks to y'all for killin' it // Grillin' it down and spillin' its guts and fillin' it back up with trash // Wait, I mean cash." It was a common theme for Grae. She felt immense anger at the recording industry for praising her music while at the same time refusing to represent her.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) BiographyJean Grae Biography - Raised From Musical Roots, Forged Career Of Cameos, Found Limited Recognition, Maximum Frustration, Poised To Become Future Rap Star - Selected discography