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Portrait of Griffen


About Griffen

Chicago, IL

If there's a common thread through the story of Griffen, the Chicago based rapper and MC, it's his belief that nothing is impossible – you just have to do what you have to do to get it. In his years working the underground scenes in Chicago, Atlanta and L.A., he's made his mark by any means necessary. The reward for his tenacious and unrelenting style is his new project, "The Urn", scheduled to drop Halloween 2008, a collection of songs that showcase his skills as a songwriter (specializing in high caliber, clever rhymes), rapper and performer, bringing back a lost brand of hip-hop where lyrics reign supreme and content is paramount.

Born on Chicago's south side, Griffen took his earliest cues in determination from his grandmother, one of the first female lawyers in Chicago. "It took her eleven years to get through law school," marvels Griffen, "I got her tenacity". "There was no quit in her. If they shut the door, go through the window – that's what I got from her."

Griffen was introduced to hip-hop by his older brother, a DJ, who exposed him to the greats of the music's golden era. "The minute I heard N.W.A., I knew what I wanted to do," he remembers. His first shows, opening for the likes of Raekwon and Souls of Mischief, earned him spots within Chicago's elite underground crews, Elements of Nature and Cyanide. His "Jacken Fa Beats" mixtape (the first in a trilogy), released in 1999, got a lot of backlash from the hip-hop scene in Chicago, due to its overt commercial aspirations. Griffen dismissed the criticism. "The more backlash I got, the more mixtapes I wanted to do," he recalls defiantly, and to date, Griffen has released nine more mixtapes as free giveaways. After a brief stint in Atlanta, he traveled to LA to record his first official album, Insomnia, which was released to iTunes in 2003. "That's when I got real focused," Griffen says. "I taught myself everything – built my own website, did my own graphics…I bought an MPC and started making my own beats. I worked for CBS as an engineer; I was a color technician for Kinko's…I learned it all and incorporated everything I did into my music hustle and launched my own label."

Griffen followed Insomnia with DrunkMusik (The Gigoloco LP) in 2005, recorded with an array of underground producers. To spread the word, he began doing shows in L.A. and Santa Monica and recording exclusively with Bionik, who was working with Ice-T and Aceyalone. In 2006, he graduated to recording, editing and mixing projects with the release of his group's debut album Outfitt – Tha Shock & Awe Campaign, where Griffen was not only half of the duo in front of the mic, but the man behind the board as well.

This year has seen Griffen step it up as his track "N. Donesia" was featured on the FX Network show, Dirt, starring Courtney Cox. He collaborated with Ice-T and Black Silver on the song "Most Uv Tha Time" from Ice's latest endeavor, Black Ice – Urban Legends. He's won acclaim for the internet released Purpill Mixxtape, featuring reverse-engineered music by Prince & Sade. But it's on Griffen's own records where he is shining the most. "B-Boycott" (from the upcoming Tha Urn LP – downloaded over 2,000 times free on is a brilliant indictment of the insanity of the Bush Administration, big business and the bloodsuckers of the poor that have betrayed the community of the Earth. The lyrics are smart, sharp and incisive, and in an environment where barely anyone has the courage to tell the truth to power, Griffen is doin' it. "Hip-Hop is a genre where it's almost impossible to grow up. I want to make an adult version of it," declares Griffen.

Griffen is currently getting ready for the launch of Tha Urn, readying the world for his biggest statement yet. It's a testament to his perseverance that after two solo albums, a series of mixtapes and moves from Chicago to Atlanta to L.A. and back, that Griffen is still out there, raising his game and drawing in new fans. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense – it's in his blood to be unstoppable.


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