Grant Parks
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Grant Parks

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Soul




"Grant Parks: Acing the Industry Exams"

By Jay Williams

gp_pic_in_studio_sized.jpgIn the music industry, only one thing counts...longevity. Despite your number one hit, or your once platinum status, can you stand the test of changes and fluctuation in the climate of the ever changing culture?

Grant Parks has proven that he's able to score well on any challenge thrown his way. If it's longevity, he has put in almost two decades of production from his Chicago home. If it's diversity, his discography contains a range of tracks that adequately cover every region and genre of Hip-Hop music.

With work put in with artists such as GLC of G.O.O.D. Music, production contributions to the Stop The Violence Movement, and a list of over 400 songs, Grant Parks is a producer everyone can take notes from. Grant chilled with for a few and chopped it up on everything from what it will take for Chi Town artists to unite, to why he is involved in the Stop The Violence Movement. The first thing I noticed is how long your discography is. Explain how you've been able to stay around so long?

Grant Parks: Well I love to do it. It's something that I would be doing regardless. A lot of cats are in it for monetary gains or what have you. I actually find enjoyment in this. It's like relaxation to me. Do you feel like when it's just for fame or money, it won't last as long?

Grant Parks: I can understand some people get into it thinking, ' I stand the potential to make a lot of money.' That's cool, I don't have any problems with it. Just as far as I'm concerned it's something that I love to do. Some people love video games, I just love music and really like making it. How long have you been doing this?

Grant Parks: I started like 18 years ago. I started out on the computers making music. Before that I had piano training and saxophone training. You know that program that comes on every computer, the little window's sound recorder? I hooked up my little CD player and it was able to record something off a CD player and loop it. I was like, " Aww man I see where this is going." You have a very wide variety from like old school classic to southern type of beats. How do you get that?

Grant Parks: Chicago is real diverse. A lot of artist in Chicago listen to all different types of flavors as far as Hip-Hop is concerned. So it ain't one particular style. We were doing this night here in Chicago, an industry based night called "Windy City Flavor" where we showcase a bunch of different flavor and try to get all these cats to come together and work together. The South and so many of these artists are so different and diverse, trying to get them to work with each other is like pulling teeth. One cat likes old school Hip-Hop, and another cat likes Dirty South type of beats, and some other guy likes another type of flavor. What I did with the compilation was I just grabbed a bunch of different cats and it just represented the type of night we were throwing. I listen to everything. Personally, I'm a Hip-Hop cat, but I just like dope music.

"Freaky Girl" by Co-Still and John Blu Produced by Grant Parks Do you think having that piano and saxophone training helps you with the music?

Grant Parks: It helps out a lot because if you have some prior musical training you can go further when it comes to making your beats. You got beatmakers, and then you got producers. Beatmakers turn the machine on and start making something and hope that it comes out to be a dope song. Producers actually know what they are doing. When I get ready to turn on my equipment and I sit down, I already have an idea of what I'm about to make. It's not like I sit down, and turn it on, and just hope that it comes out dope. With musical training, I can already formulate how I want it to go down in my head. Then my equipment and my drum machines are just a sketch pad. What's your process to crafting a hit record?

Grant Parks: Basically, if you can make a dance song, that's gonna be a hit. Everybody can get involved in the song and it has a party groove or whatever. You can't go wrong with making a dance song as far as a hit, but then, they have songs that haven't been dance songs that have been hits too. It really don't matter what it is as long as it's a good song. It could be anything. It really just has to be orchestrated correctly. It can't just be a whole lot of thrown together stuff.

"Fall Back" by Big Wiz produced by Grant Parks What made you want to get involved with the Stop The Violence Movement?

Grant Parks: Well I'm all about stopping the violence period. When we hooked up with KRS ONE it was kind of like birds of a feather flock together. People tend to gravitate towards people who are along the same lines. It basically fell in our lap and me being a real positive person, we just ended up catching this wave. Some people think Chicago is one of the most talented places in terms of Hip-Hop. How would you respond to that?

Grant Parks: It's no question we got talent. The big thing about Chicago right now is just trying to get their business in order. I would have to say from the 90s up until now, I've seen the progression of a lot of these artists. The music is tight now, but you have to get more into the business aspect of it. Everybody can get down with the music and write dope lyrics and whatever. I would have to say over the last four years, the artists here have really gotten into performing. It went from working on their craft with the music and the lyrics, to doing performances getting better at public performances, and now the next aspect is the business. That's where Chicago is at right now as far as the music is concerned and trying to go national. To get national recognition means you have to get on your business and start networking.

"Crafted" by Phil G. produced by Grant Parks What advice can you give to up and coming producers reading this interview?

Grant Parks: My advice is to not be too quick and jump in and get to the point where you feel like you're ready. My whole thing is you have to practice and get good and make sure that you're coming with something that has quality in it. You got a lot of cats that just started, and they make the beat, and they think they're hot already because their man said it was hot. Sometimes it's not good to ask your buddies what they think of your music. You need to venture out and ask people who really don't know you. It's like asking your mom what she thinks of your track. Of course your mom is going to say, "Baby I love that song, that's real hot." You gotta get out and have other people hear your music and critique your music.

- Beat Dynasty

"Pugs Atomz & Grant Parks - Kinda Like A Rapper"

A lyrical and sonic balance must be maintained when one emcee teams up with one producer to craft a full-length project. At it’s best, the combination of two artists working together exclusively forms the ideal marriage between beats and rhymes; content and cohesiveness; raps and replay value. One outshining the other is the most common albatross between capitalizing on the promise of the collaboration and inadvertently creating a polarizing LP that rocks harder as either an acapella or as background music.

For his third studio album, Chicago emcee Pugs Atomz enlisted his Windy City brethren, Grant Parks, to provide the soundscape for his Coal Mine Music/Fat Beats Records release, Kinda Like A Rapper.

The album opens with its most emphatic offering, title track “K.L.A.R.” Producer Grant Parks’s Soul-laced strings and anthemic horns provide a solid sound bed for Pug’s forceful introduction. Here, the Chicago rapper kicks “Maneuvering through the game / Precision with my Rook / A black Bobby Fisher that came here to cook / Torturing y'all squares / I’m just in first gear / You can peddle faster but your still in the rear” -- a nimble extended metaphor that becomes an unfortunate outlier as K.L.A.R. continues. The minimalistic bassline and siren-like Soul sample on the album’s lead single, “Rocket Love,” feels summertime ready, although the meaning of the song (love of achieving success) is never clearly translated. This hook-heavy cut only contains one verse, the bulk of which consists of braggadocio cypher rhymes like “I own this beat like city cops with billy clubs strolling they streets” and “competition I’m not talking to / 'Cause they hearts pump late, cream and sugar too,” that never fully commit to the stated definition. WidgetsThe seasonal nature of K.L.A.R. continues on “All Right,” a sublime ode to living life and “enjoying that ride”, complete with a simplistic yet contagious hook that sticks around long after the song has ended. “Tomorrow Soon”’s commentary on overcoming adversity maintains a similar groove as predecessors “Rocket Love” and “All Right”. “Let Me In” finds Pugs kicking it to a lady “over chicken, greasy food” on the first verse and describing his career progression in the second verse -- nicely flipping the duality of its chorus: “You gonna see what its gonna be when you let me in.” The album shifts to social commentary on “Let's Get,” a smoothed out track discussing the value of building for the future over spending on frivolous objects.

Excluding the title track, the front half of K.L.A.R. maintains a consistent audial and contextual summertime pace with breezy production, common commentary, similar sounding hooks and basic rhyme schemes. The back half diversifies sonically with Grant Parks’s sped up soul sampling on “Pay No Attention,” “Cold Outside’s"-hopping snare and trippy sound effects, the repetitive, cascading keys on “Like That,” and the jaunty, thumping bass line and crashing snare on “Stereo” -- each varying in speed and arrangement.

Pugs is at his best on “Cold Outside”, where he describes the plight and gentrification of his neighborhood through honest, potent lyrics like “Englewood, Chicago / every acre for sale” and “stones, moes, folks on the corners / but me and mine always had cops up on us / so I had to autograph every bus” and “Students say no class today / They got block business / Can’t chill by the lake” -- utilizing a slowed, aggressive delivery that emotes the frustration of his hometown’s paradigm. Guest feature Allegra Delores’s perspective laced bars describing life in The Windy City steals the spotlight: “Plagued by segregation / We turn tribalism into hood religion / Counting points on stars gang bangin‘ mathematicians / Coming from the I-double L-I-N-O-I-S / Getting up in your conscious popping rhymes in your chest...This is the Chicago that I know / The surface clean but the dirty bleeds from the concrete.”

The unfortunate reality of K.L.A.R. is that Pugs fails to lyrically reach the level of Grant Parks’s production. Topically, he puts his spin on customary rap fare such as dealing with haters (“Pay No Attention”), relationship strife (“Yes I Did”), hometown pride (“Forever”, “Sunset” ) and braggadocio Hip Hop (“Like That”, “Stereo”), but his tendency to litter each track with sub-par bars downgrades the quality of the album. For example, while shifting to a whisper-rap flow to address life’s detractors on “Pay No Attention,” he inexplicably kicks “Truth’s like a baby / Please pass the forceps.” On K.L.A.R.’s cypher rhymes “Like That” and “Stereo,” he underwhelms with “See keys open doors / So this verse here will open a Porshe” and “any Eskimo knows Pugs is 40 below” respectively. Even when his raps are better than average, rarely do they impress with wittiness, delivery, flow or cadence.

From mic to plug, K.L.A.R. rolls like a traffic ridden ride down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue -- rarely going above 35MPH, rarely falling below 25MPH. Uninventive rhyme schemes and a severe lack of imagination conflict with the largely center lane production. Considering this is an album where “I’m getting that bread just like cold cuts” and “wet behind the ears like a tadpole” pass for punch lines, Pugs’ proclamation that he “Can go harder / This is just a starter” feels more like a shallow threat than an actual possibility. Although the disconnect between beats and rhymes jeopardizes the overall replay value, Grant Parks’s solid production throughout is enough to make K.L.A.R. a worthy listen, even if its better as background music. - hiphopdx

"CD Review: Grant Parks – The Moment of Clarity"

Representing for the Windy City, Illinois, Grant Parks’ lush productions showcase the best elements of late 90's style productions with a Pro-Tools edge that bump like a block party in the summer, and provide the canvas for a host of lyrical shoguns, from KRS-ONE and Sadat X to Reno Chinati and Pugz Atomz. Tracks to blaze to, floss to and ride to with a subtly intelligent edge that reflects the elevation of True School Hip Hop.

Coming out of his renowned “Coalmine Studio”, Parks assembles a cast of MC’s that add the vocal fire to tracks already imbued with deep soulful personality and a hypnotic bump. Twenty cuts with interludes add up to a soundtrack for some smokin’ sessions. Standout efforts include the title track with Phil G reflecting on a sharper mental focus, “Let’s Get” with Pugz Atomz exhorting the massive to elevate the situation, KRS on “My People” on an even more epic meditation, and The Wild Cowboy Sadat X with the introspective “Down”, telling the tale of a reluctant father and his reconciliation. Drama Fox weaves a vision of inescapable doom on “Gangsta’s Fate” that treads the line between condemning and extolling the inevitable downfall.

Having crafted such a thoroughly solid album with standout rhyming throughout, it’s certain that Grant Parks name will grow. Able to combine the vivid complexity of large scale commercial productions with moody atmosphere and an everpresent grittiness reflecting his city of origin, Parks’ diversity and attention to detail are the hallmark of a producer at near mastery of his craft, destined to grow into a true innovator. An album worthy of repeated spins that will carry the summer vibes into the dark days ahead, “The Moment of Clarity” is a promise of Hip Hop’s continued relevance and link with healthy roots.

- Abort Magazine


# 2009 produced on Grand Puba's "Retroactive" album, September release on Babygrande.

#2009 produced on Malik Yusef's "G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night" May Release on 101 distribution.

# 2010 produced on Sadat X's "Wild Cowboys II" album, March release on Fat Beats Records.

# 2010 Pugs Atomz / producer Grant Parks "Kinda Like A Rapper" album, June release w/ Fat Beats Distribution

Various songs and compilations with local, underground and independent artist.

Various songs played on WGCI 107.5FM (Go ILL Radio) and Power 92.3FM



Grant Parks is one of Chicago’s hottest producers. Born and raised on Chicago’s West Side, he had a growing interest in music at the young age of 10, taking piano and saxophone lessons and participated in the church choir. He had a deeper interest in composing all instruments to make his own sound. In 1990, Grant Parks started playing with different machines to achieve this goal.

He also started recording and engineering sessions in his studio, later named The CoalMines. Educated in the theory of musical and studio engineering, his sound is guaranteed to set an industry standard with raw innovative techniques.

Grant Parks has worked with many artists over the years, including: Sadat X & Grand Puba of Brand Nubian, KRS One, WC of Westside Conncection, A.G. of D.I.T.C., 5 FT (General Feva) of Black Moon, GLC of G.O.O.D. Music, Crucial Conflict, Malik Yusef, Rhymefest, Twanie Ranks, Dawreck of Triple Darkness, Kenny Bogus, 4-Ize of DTP, Big Rugg of L.E.P., Pugslee Atomz, Straw tha Vegas Don, Iomos Marad of All Natural and many more.

Grant has a catalog of over 500 finished songs and production catalog of over 10,000 beats. GP is currently continuing his professional career in music production where he can assist artists with their musical and recording needs.

* Grant Parks has also been part of the following projects and events:
* Scribble Jam CD – 2007 MC/DJ/B Boy/Beat Box/Graffiti Hip Hop Festival - “Stereo” w/Pugs Atomz
* Taste This - Hip Hop Cooking Show Pilot - producer credit on various songs iStandard Producer Showcase – 2007 Chicago Edition - Panelist
* Windy City Flavor Event - weekly industry networking event - host & feature in Ozone Mag.
* Rhyme Spitters MC Battle 2006 & 2007 – music/beats supplied for battles
* Stop The Violence Movement 2008/2009 - KRS One's organization - Produced Single For Album
* 2008 - " Producer Of The Year" Nominee
* 2008 Chicago Truth Awards - " Producer Of The Year" Nominee
* 2009 Chicago Truth Awards - "Prodcuer of the Year" & "Hottest Mixtape" Nominee for "The Moment of Clarity"
* 2010 Red Eye feature one of Chicago’s rising producers/engineers