"I wish I had guillotine garage doors."

Jean Grae
english (Cape Town/New York)
jeangraetv.com bndcmp
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With Jean Grae I have to admit that I got trapped by my own narrowshallow preconceptions of who is who and what is what in rap. That’s how I ended up not really listening to her work carefully (with the exception of her Haters Anthem that was on heavy rotation on my very angry playlist back when I was very angry…) …and that’s how I missed the opportunity of joyfully relishing a beautiful chapter of rap for a very long time – infact over 8 years. Ignorance is too expensive as a taste – don’t do ignorance! It is simply unaffordable, as a taste.

You see, thats how I came to realize the independent beauty of Jean Grae and the curative impact of her voice and words that line up to endless episodes of depressing stories and subtle gestures of resistance within. I think she is very real, yeah.


From the ‚my cup of tee is half full‘ angle I can see that there is too many good things to make up with her to be sad about what’s missed, so let me sum up a few things I got to know so far:


Jean Grae has been active as a rap artist since the early nineties. Up until 2002, when her first solo project Attack Of The Attacking Things …The Dirty Mixes came out, Grae performed and worked under the a.k.a. What? What? as well as under her birth nameTsidi Ibrahim. Collaborations include the former New York rap crew Natural Resource she joined in the mid-nineties and artists like The Herbaliser and Talib Kweli. After The Attack, she released another two studio albums, The Orchestral Files (2007), and Jeanius (together with 9th Wonder, 2008), as well as a mixtape – The Grae Files (2004).

A new Album (Cake or Death) and a mixtape (Cookies or Coma) are due but didn’t show up yet. Anyways, as I’m still to make up leeway… | ok: meanwhile Cookies or Comas did get out and a lot of other stuff happened – check the discography section below.

single and feature releases:


(as What? What? with Natural Resource) Negro League Basebal / They Lied (12″, 1996)

(as What? What? with Natural Resource) I Love This World / Bum Deal rmx (12″, 1997)

(as What? What? features The Herbaliser) The Blend (12″,1997)

(as What? What? features The Bad Seed ) Shit Is Hot (12″, 1998)

(with Natural Resource) Heavy Loungin‘ (off Mystic Brew. The Main Ingredients; 1999)

(as What? What? features The Herbaliser) Mission Improbable (off Very Mercenary; 1999)

(as What? What? features The Herbaliser) Let It Go (off Very Mercenary; 1999)

(features Ocean from Natural Resource) The Usual (12″, 2000)

(as Tsidi Ibrahim, features Mr. Lif with EL-P & Akrobatik) Post Mortem (off Phantom; 2002)

(features Talib Kweli) Phoenix (off The Beautiful Mix, 2004)

Fuckery Level 3000 (october 2013)





Attack of the Attacking Things…The Dirty Mixes (2002):

1. Intro

2. What Would I Do?

3. God’s Gift

4. Block Party

5. No Doubt

6. Skit (Bubblin‘) (feat. Apani)

7. Thank Ya!

8. Lovesong

9. Get It

10. Knock

11. Live 4 You

12.Fade out



The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP (2003):

1. Hater’s Anthem

2. Take Me

3. Swing Blade ft. Cannibal Ox

4. My Crew

5. Code Red ft. Block McCloud & Pumpkinhead

6. Chapter One: Destiny – 45min:

6A Breath Easy

6B A Little Story

6C You Don’t Wand It

6D Excuse Me Sir

6E High

6F Keep Livin

6G You Don’t Know

6H Bum Deal

6I Negro Baseball League

6J Dichotomy

6K Spittin‘ Bars

6L Untitled (mxtp verses)

6M Untitled (mixtp verses)



This Week (2004):

1. Intro

2. A-Alikes

3. Cuervo Loco (Skit)

4. Going Crazy

5. Clock (Skit)

6. Style Wars

7. Not Like Me

8. Supa Luv

9. Give It Up

10. Whatever

11. The Wall

12. Before The Spot (Skit)

13. You Don’t Want It

14. Watch It

15. P.S.

16. Don’t Rush Me

17. Fyre Blazer



(with 9th Wonder) Jeanius (2008):

1. Intro

2. 2-32’s

3. Don’t Rush Me

4. My Story

5. The Time Is Over

6. Billy Killer

7. Think About It

8. #8

9. American Pimp

10. This World

11. Love Thirst

12. Desperada

13. Smashmouth



The Orchestral Files (2008):

Part One:

1. Trouble Man

2. Soul Clap

3. Mean

4. What Ya Gona Do

5. My Angel Is You

6. The Story

7. The Band

8. Jean Experience

9. Break

10. It’s A Wrap

11. It’s Alright

Part Two:

1. DJ Kay Slay Intro

2. (with Masta Ace) Soda & Soap

3. (with Guru) Power, Money & Influence

4. The Jam

5. (with The Herbaliser) Nah’mean Nah’m Sayin‘

6. (with SonGodSuns) Breath Of A Salesman

7. (with Splash) Another Day

8. (with Mordul Vega) Believe

9. Fall Back

10. Look Around

11. (with The Herbaliser) If You Close Your Eyes

12. (with Da Beatminerz) U…Me…All Of Us

13. (with Black Panther) The Darkest Night Ever

14. (with SonGodSuns) Big Beat Walkthrough

15. (with Prince Paul) Controversial Headlines (Aka Champion Sound Pt. 2)

16. (with C Rayz Walz) Pink

17. (with Diverse) Under The Hammer

18. (with The Herbaliser) Twice Around



Cookies or Comas (mxtp, 2011):

1. Casebasket

2. R.I.P. ft. Styles P and Talib Kweli

3. Imagine

4. I Rock On

5. Uh Oh ft. Talib Kweli

6. Live Up ft. Talib Kweli

7. Assassins ft. Pharoahe Monch and Royce Da 5’9

8. Jeanie Rules

9. Blame Game

10. Killing’Em

11. You Don’t Like It



Ho X 3. A Christmas Thingy (digital album, dec 2012):

1. Sugarplum Jean

2. Baby, It’s Fucking Cold Outside

3. Santa, Baby

4. You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

5. Christmas Time (and Christmastime) Is Here



Dust Ruffle Songs I found under my Bed (2012):

1. Neckface

2. Mean Jean (B-day edition)

3. What Cha Gonna Do

4. What The Hell

5. Admire Quagmire

6. Haters Anthem Remix ft. Planet Asia and Sadat X

7. The Setup

8. Lights Off

9. The Climb

10. SupaLuv (acustic rehearsal)



Gotham Down (deluxe edition, December 2013):

1. Time

2. Before The Summer Broke (All Grown Up Version)

3. 76 %

4. The Job Interview

5. Ah, Muse. You.

6. iwanteweback (Lush Version)

7. The Sand (HIS Theme 3)

8. BITS pt 1

9. BITS pt 2 (Supercrush Version)

10. cycle ii intro

11. Football Season Is Over

12. Kill Screen

13. Fuckery Level 3000

14. Jean’s Theme

15. Crayon Ruins

16. Tunnels (Grove St. Theme)

17. Dumbo Theme

18. Stains




jeannie (soft EP, January 2014):

1. 37

2. So Glad It’s Over

3. mask.

4. ACME (Take it to the wall)

5. u…

6. The Current (maybe.)



That’s Not How You Do That: An Instructional Album For Adults (June 2014):

1. That’s Not How You Do That Intro

2. Don’t Be A Dick To The Waitstaff

3. Planes: The Trilogy

4. A Handle Means Pull

5. Quelle Chris – No One Cares (STFU)

6. Read The TL. It Retains Information

7. To The Right

8. Quelle Chris – Use Your Fucking Headphones

9. Escalators

10. Were You Raised In A Barn, Or Raised By Wolves?

11. Quelle Chris – Don’t Be A Dick





(with The Herbaliser) The Blend (1997):



(with The Herbaliser feat. Trap Clappa, Cheech Marina, Daddy Mills, A.K.& MacGuyver) The Generals (2005): youtube.com/watch?v=f_TEWZfIWAY


The Jam (2006):



Love Thirst (2008):



My Story (2008):



(features DJ Idee and Wrekonize) The Right (2008):



(features Tamar Kali) Pearl Remix (2009):



Born To Shine (2011):



(features Talib Kweli) Uh Oh (2011):



R.I.P. (ft. Styles P. & Talib Kweli, 2011):



Kill Screen (september 2012):



(with Maurice ‚Mobetta‘ Brown) Back At The Ranch (August 2013):





DJ Mr. Len live @ Hip Hop Kemp 2012/08/18:



„I don’t camouflage!“ talking to Jean Grae on social blending and exclusion, the fact that you can’t escape the fact of being an individual, upringing and race: youtube.com/watch?v=PqYLT-lXjzY


An Accidental Hip Hop Career: Jean Grae at the radioshow The Bullseye with Jesse Thorn (January 2014): She is born in South Africa in the 1960s to a culturally and politically conscious family. What is more: her parents were musicians, dedicated to the struggle against apartheid. In this interview she reflects on that heritage. Beyond that, Jean and Jesse discuss her connection to Eminem as both share a certain aesthetic: the significance of violent, yet murderous plots to their songwriting is big in both cases as is the risk they take to come across crazy. Listen to her explaining why violence: soundcloud.com/bullseye-with-jesse-thorn/jean-grae


Jean claims she gave only 76% to her hiphop music productions instead of a 100, because she felt like hiphop only loved her seventysix per cent. That is pretty amazing considering how good everything was. How she deals with that personally and professionally: interview with Danielle for the Rookie, February 13, 2014: rookiemag.com/2014/02/jean-grae-interview/2/



Profile by Dee Vasquez (2011): vimeo.com/30429043


Interview at the Toronto Manifesto festival (2010): youtube.com/watch?v=d8tUNVgElzk