E. Grizzly is one of my favorite underground rappers. Period. Hailing from Miami and currently residing in Philadelphia, Grizzly is a traveling MC who makes his home between the aforementioned cities and NYC – creating his version of the Bermuda Triangle, the E. Grizzly Cave. South Floridians will know him from cyphers, local hip-hop shows and from his work with Alukard back in the day.
With a slew of mixtapes under his belt and two full-lengths worked to the beats of RJD2 and El-P, as well as a collaboration with Philly’s industrial/noise outfit NAH, Grizzly is a serious rapper and old school lyricist with a steady flow and a good sense of timing.
An artist as well, Grizzly has taken to the streets with his brand, “Think!” to create thought-provoking pieces that link his musical output to his visual sense. Eternally busy and always jet-setting, Grizzly made some time for us to talk about his visual work and his sense of place in the never-ending competitive cycle of street art.
TuffGnarl.com: Hip-hop and street art have long had a fruitful relationship, how did you get into it – who inspired you, what do you like about it and how did you start?
E. Grizzly: Well I always wrote lyrics, did art, and tagged my name. Since I was a kid. It was really just me trying to figure out how to incorporate them all together. It all started with a brainstorming session I had with one of my artist friends named Travis. We were just thinking of different brands we can make and that’s where the “Think!” street art idea came from. I started with shirts and simple graphic design and it grew from there.
I was inspired to do street art when I saw the Philly and NYC street art scene. It’s fucking everywhere. Shit’s insane. Moving up here from Miami really showed me there was another outlet for me as far as getting my artistic ideas across. That’s really what I like about it. It’s a whole other world of people that follow this scene that has nothing to do with the music.
I like the idea of poetic thought bubbles; they certainly double as satire and commentary. But what I like the most is the idea of insects having these thoughts. I’ve always thought of them as instinctual. In your hands, they’re sentient beings.
That was a trial and error thing. I wanted to use small animals so I can hit up those small spots. There’s so much street art up here that there’s not much room. And you can’t just go up on other pieces or it’ll start beef. The old school graf rules still apply. I first started with birds, squirrels, turtles, rabbits, shit like that. But the insects have gotten the most love. People love bugs for some reason. I thought I was the only one.
Do you scout locations or are you always ready to bomb? I know you travel freely across the expanses of New Milly (New York, Miami and Philadelphia). Where can folks find the majority of your works?
Mostly in Philly and Manhattan. That’s where I’m at the most. I take the trip to Florida about three or four times a year so I go up on the road like Richmond, South Carolina, Georgia, Orlando and Miami. Starting to hit Brooklyn and DC up more. Really the biggest challenge is New York. There’s so much street art that you have to get up hundreds of times to get recognized. Never really knew how difficult it is to be “All City” until I started studying the city block by block.
And I do scout, but mostly to put up big pieces. The idea is for the art to stay up as long as possible. It’s always a bummer when your shit gets buffed. So you look for spots that has street art on it already. If it’s too clean it’s no good. I even will put up a small sticker to see how long that stays before I put up a big piece.
There’s a clothing line too. (I love my t-shirt!) Where can people purchase these?
I usually sell them at my shows. There’s a t-shirt shop in Philly called Philly Kid Grafix that sells them. It’s funny, I’ve sold like a hundred of them without trying much. They move pretty well, but I’ve been having so much fun with the street art that I haven’t updated my website in months. Will actually do that tonight. My website is E-grizzly.com. There’s a button for the merch. I have a genuine feeling where I am doing this for fun and to share new philosophical ideas, but hey, if you want to buy a shirt you are more than welcome. Definitely not going to stop you.
What’s next? Working in this image/text style, is there another approach you’d like to try or is there a new direction you’d like to take your art in?
Well everything I’m doing is definitely progressing. The next step is bigger and in more areas around the country with music and art. I’ve been touring more than ever so I usually get up where ever I go. The bigger street art pieces are harder to pull off but I’ve been getting better at it. My next music release is a synth, calypso, punk project so yeah, definitely will be expanding my horizons but still keeping it within my realm.
All photos used with permission.
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