Everything is in the title. TheColorGrey AKA Grey is a Belgian perfectionist prodigy native of Antwerp. It was by chance that we stumbled on his Youtube channel watching his video ‘Sins‘ that wowed us. It is a whole. The quality, the flow, the lyrics, the melody, the INSTRUMENTAL! From there, the sound is played in continuous looped.
Well known for 2 years in the small circle of hip hop scene in his city, it is with discretion that Grey composed his songs, not leaving the studio if he is not pleased with the result… going as far as to deny opportunities if they are not conform to his projects! After listening to his ingenious EP ‘Do The Right Thing’, we wanted to know more about Grey and it is with pleasure that Grey talked to us in an interview…
Tell us more about where you’re from and your childhood…
I was born and raised in the city of Antwerp, a child of mixed race with a black Congolese mother and a white Flemish father. Since my childhood I never liked school, authorities and unwelcome obligations and devoted all my time and attention as much as possible to my favorite passtimes and occupations: music and football.
You’ve started to share your work only one year ago on social medias. Were you keeping your talent secret?
No, I was working on my skills in a quiet but very deliberate way, aiming for a higher level that could satisfy my sense for perfection. I’m really all about getting better all the time. I was already well known 2 years ago in the small circuit of hip hop music in and around Antwerp. Over the years, I refused propositions from professionals in the industry even two or three times. I’m very focused and know what I want and how I want it, so I don’t fall for the first opportunity if it doesn’t suit my plans. And once I felt that I was ready, I wanted to come out not in a blasting and rushing manner but rather step by step, always focusing on the bigger picture and a long term development, which I’m convinced is the healthiest way to pursue and realize my artistic aspirations.
So at what point did you start rapping and producing?
I started beatboxing when I was around 8. One or two years later I received an old computer from my father (who I witnessed composing music in his free time) and an old keyboard from my elder brother (who was also very busy making music in my childhood). Since then there has been no stopping me from writing lyrics and making beats. In fact, I have been dreaming about becoming a real artist since that age and so it’s an exciting time right now watching myself steadily closing in on that dream, day after day, song after song.
Who are your favorite artists?
Oddisee, J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak.
You produce all your tracks. Where do you find the inspiration?
The music and the melodies can come from anything. From hearing other music, or watching movies, or while playing on the keyboard, or they can just pop up in my head like that. The inspiration for the lyrics comes from my dreams and ambitions in music since I was a kid, from things happening in my daily life, and from things going on in the world.
For instance, you can watch the music video for ‘Sins’ as a little entertaining short-film and leave it at just that, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for those who wanna think deeper about it there’s a lot of theme’s and problems being confronted that especially young people have to deal with in a very direct way every day: from the risks of having unsafe sex and going out to a club carrying arms like a gun or a knife, up to contemplating how dangerous a loss of self control as a consequence of using alcohol and drugs can be, how fast things can run outta hand and how abruptly a human life can be ended through unnecessary and even unintentional violence, and how futile life it self may seem that way… So while I may sometimes feel the need to address such larger issues, I don’t like to be all too obvious in doing so, trying to avoid moralising or patronising, but just stating basic questions about society, mankind and life as it is.
Why calling your EP « Do The Right Thing » just like Spike Lee’s movie?
I love Spike Lee as a very talented, accomplished, proven and outspoken artist. It’s my feeling and understanding that Spike Lee’s movietitle “Do The Right Thing” helps and motivates me as some kind of philosophic slogan worth following in my own life. It’s directly linked to my desire and efforts to do the right thing for my music and myself as an artist and as a human being as well.
How do you feel about the way your EP « Do The Right Thing » has been received?
One could easily argue that more would always be better when you’re a young and still rather unknown artist, of course, but in general, I was quite pleased with the overall reception by fans and “people that matter”, especially with the very positive respons for ‘Sins’, the song that I supported with a music video (contrary to the other songs on the EP and the EP as such, for which he didn’t do any special promotion). ‘Sins’ got picked up immediately by Flemish national radiostation Studio Brussels, Belgian regional radiostation FM Brussels (that recently changed its name to ‘Bruzz’), and internetradio 22tracks. On 22tracks ‘Sins’ was the most trending songs in the Brussels hiphop playlist for several weeks.
We would like to highlight the quality of your music video « Sins » and also your records in general. They are fascinating. Do you have a team behind you that helps you out with the visual and the sound?
I write and produce my songs mostly alone and many times even entirely alone. That includes deciding the whole sound, though I get help with guitar arrangements where needed from my friend Niel Soetaert, a gifted young guitar player who also plays with me live on stage and who played the wonderful solo at the end of ‘Sins’. For the new set of songs that I’m working on right now, I collaborate a little bit more on arrangements with an unknown artist that I have befriended recently. Concerning the music video for ‘Sins’, clearly more people have been of considerable help there. They were mainly friends of mine, of whom must certainly be mentioned my friend and talented film student Anthony Nti who directed the clip and helped with the script which was based on a story that I conceived.
What do you think about the Belgian music scene? Do you recommend any artists we should check out?
Rap and hiphop, and broader urban music, are unmistakably getting more attention and appreciation in Belgium for the last year . Though most Belgian artists in these musical genres are still working in the two native languages Flemish and French and the overall picture must still be considered as a rather local thing, it is generally felt that a lot is going on both in and behind the scenes. As national radio stations are getting more interested in playing hiphop and major record labels are getting more engaged in signing upcoming artists, everyone involved hopes that the time has finally come for hiphop and rap to really break through in Belgium.
Whereas other Belgian artists are concerned, I recommend you to check out Woodie Smalls who’s my little nephew (the two started rapping as kids at the age of around 10), and also K1d, an artist from Woodie’s entourage who’s gone solo this year as well and who’s a good friend of mine…
What are you listening to right now?
At the moment, I’m really in to Anderson .Paak’s latest album ‘Malibu‘ and Oddisee’s new instrumental album ‘The Odd Tape‘.
Many thanks to Grey and his manager Dirk for making this happen ! Congratulations to Grey who has created his own ‘urban’ record label Corner Vibes (Corner Vibe Records) and subsequently signed a licence deal with major record company Warner Music Benelux !
Editorial board : Odionne