Greg Enemy
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Greg Enemy

Band Hip Hop Soul


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"Fly-Ass Rapper - Greg Enemy makes his grand entrance with two EPs and some lifted glasses"

If you think local hip-hop has fallen off the map, you probably haven't heard Greg Enemy yet. The 21-year-old Kansas City rapper and producer comes correct on his debut self-titled EP and recent “Babylon” EP (a collaboration with Stik Figa). His versatile style places a premium on farm-fresh beats and sharpshooter rhymes. “Every single rhyme of mine will prolly make you move,” Enemy boasts on his song “The Protocol.” Hell, it's hard to argue with that.
Greg Enemy (a.k.a. Greg Henry) brought along an iPod stocked with his newest club-bangers and instrumental joints for our 35-minute podcast interview. What kind of glasses were you rapping about in your song “Fly Ass Glasses”?
Greg Enemy: This pair that I'm wearing on my face right now. I actually stole 'em from a thrift store (laughter). That's a fact that kind of goes unrecognized, but I totally five-finger-discounted them.
I hope it wasn't the Social Service League, because you know they'll just give it to you if you ask nicely.
Nah, nothing like that. I just didn't have the little bit of money to actually buy them.
On a related note, how do you feel about illegal downloading?
I'm actually one of the people who embrace it. For the most part, all my releases thus far and probably in the future will be free downloads. I'm embracing the fact that people are going to illegally download it anyway. I think it's kind of foolish to fight it.
How would you describe your style as a producer and a rapper?
Not too full of myself. I like to have fun, so a lot of my production and lyrical style is about just having fun. As far as production, I just like to explore lots of different sounds. My solo EP sounds completely different from the one I did with Stik Figa.
When did you start writing and performing?
Probably when I was 10 or 11. I had a lot of older cousins that were into stuff like UGK, Crucial Conflict, Jay-Z, The Roots, and Common. I would kind of sneak off and listen to their CDs when no one was looking. Me and my older cousin used to actually pause-and-play CDs to write the lyrics out. I like to tell people that the first person who actually taught me how to rap is Busta Rhymes.
I noticed you've been performing with a group called Young Lions.
It's more like a collective ... Reach from Kansas City was putting on a show called the Young Lions, and it's basically just a way to get some of the younger hip-hop artists some face time. In the KC scene it's kind of hard for young dudes to break in with the reigning figures like C.E.S. Cru or Approach. They do a lot to try and bring out the young guys, because there's a whole slew of us.
What'd you do for your 21st birthday?
I didn't do jack. I don't smoke or drink or do any drugs or anything, so it's not that different.
You could start, now that you're 21.
Very true. But I got a song called “Square,” so I can't really do that. I can do 21-and-up shows now though.
Are you going to school right now?
Nah, I'm too lazy. I like to tell people that it's just me being mature, like, 'Yo, I'm not going to do school.' If I was in it, I promise you I would not do any work. So I'm just not going to go and waste any time or money.
What are your tools for producing tracks?
I use the cheapest of the cheapest equipment and Fruity Loops, and a whole lot of records.
So you do some direct sampling?
It's usually one or the other. I do a lot of dope sample-based beats, and I do a lot of simplistic, hard-hitting drum beats with synthesized instrumentation. My favorite producers are J Dilla, Just Blaze, and The Neptunes. (As a rapper) I'm mostly influenced by Outkast, Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul.
What do you think of Lil Wayne?
That's the thing: people hear me say that and then they ask me that question. I love Lil Wayne, and I love T-Pain. I love all of that stuff, because when I was growing up – although I did listen to Common and The Roots and stuff like that – I also was a really big fan of No Limit and Cash Money and Juvenile. It's both in me, so I like it all.

"Newcomer Greg Enemy has 20/20 vision when it comes to KC hip-hop"

Greg Enemy hops onstage at the Brick in stepped-on Keds and a vintage Kansas City Jazz T-shirt. He dips the mic stand like a dance partner, rearing back with an I feel good holler as the first bars of James Brown's "The Payback" flood the room. Leave it to the new school to take us back to the old school.

If Greg Enemy believed in going to college, this particular stage scene wouldn't be happening. But the rapper and bedroom producer went to work right after high school, manning a desk at the Kansas City Police Department's South Patrol station for, he says, "three miserable years." Boredom propelled him back into music, and not a moment too soon.

Just when the scene was beginning to feel stagnant, local hip-hoppers sneaked up on the first months of 2009 with some innovative surprises. Artists such as Miles Bonny and Reach began going multimedia, with online videos and podcasts. Rapper Les Izmore continues to break genre barriers by wailing with the Afrobeat band Hearts of Darkness, a gig he took up last summer.

But, by far, the most invigorating shot in the arm for KC hip-hop comes from the surge of just-turned-21 talent. The fliers crammed underneath windshield wipers in Westport bear the new names of these informally christened "Young Lions": thePhantom, Atilla, Craig Smith and Greg Enemy.

The little guy with funny specs ("Fly-Ass Glasses" is quickly becoming his signature anthem), Enemy is getting some recognition, thanks to numerous projects. These include a self-produced EP, an album he recently completed with rapper Stik Figa, an upcoming disc with ultra-hype party boy Dutch Newman and plenty of stage time.

"I think the funniest thing about it all is that everybody learned my name really fast," Enemy says. "It took no time at all for word to spread about little ol' me."

His real name is Greg Henry. "I didn't want a name that was too far away from my real name. Everything I do, I want it to be me. I think using your real name is a little more humble, a little more human," he explains.

And yet he chose the name Enemy, which befits the shit-talking spirit of a battle-inciting MC.

"If I'm going to be the best, I'm going to have to technically be everyone's enemy," Enemy says. "I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition because I'm short, I wear glasses and I'm a nice guy. So people are like, 'How could you be anyone's enemy?'"

A fairly authentic Greg Enemy action figure would be easy to twist together with pipe cleaners. But even though he might be the world's most pocket-sized rapper, his confidence and stage presence are anything but diminutive.

Earlier this month at the Brick, he doles out nuggets of his life story with bell-clear pronunciation and more swagger than dudes three times his size. His heady wordplay name-drops linguist Noam Chomsky and director Wes Anderson while proclaiming himself the "black Jack Kerouac."

In his live show, Enemy instructs, "All my people with bad eyesight, put your hands up!" His oversized frames make him look like someone in one of Jamel Shabazz's photos from Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Meeting Enemy is like shaking hands with an anachronism, as if you've been magically transported to the set of a throwback Spike Lee joint.

"I get that a lot," Enemy says, not at all bothered by the retro comparison. Just as Nas, A Tribe Called Quest and OutKast influenced Enemy's old-school sound, Spike Lee movies compelled him to make art that sends a message.

A snoop around Enemy's small and tidy midtown apartment confirms those influences and reveals more. There's a crate full of records with the soundtrack for Spike Lee's School Daze (featuring E.U.'s "Da Butt") resting on top. One corner is dedicated to making music, evidenced by the foam padding stuck to the walls surrounding a keyboard, a microphone with pop screen, an MPC beat machine and a laptop with FL Studio installed.

Another corner showcases Enemy's aesthetic tastes: a poster of a print by artist Patrick Nagel (best known for the album cover art on Duran Duran's Rio), an overflowing closet of garage-sale and vintage-store finds, and a painting of his own depicting a minstrel face devouring a slice of watermelon.

That uncomfortable image is the seed of a provocative project that Enemy has been considering for a while.

"I haven't incorporated it into my music yet. I think I'm trying to do it the right way," he says. "I was really into the whole blackface minstrel era, from the beginning of entertainment in America to the '60s. ... I was really interested in why those images — as negative as they are — why they're not preserved and why you don't hear about them too much in black history."

A hip-hop scene inundated with false bravado could benefit from some of Enemy's social commentary. Another thing it needs? More fans.

"It seems to me like everyone is waiting for their turn to go on," Enemy says. While plenty of heads turn out to local hip-hop shows to give their support, he feels that a few appear merely to push their own projects.

As one of the young lions, time is on his side.
- The Pitch


Greg Enemy EP (solo) - Sept. 12, 2008
Babylon EP (w/Stik Figa) - Feb. 16, 2009
Do you wanna hear it? (w/Dutch Newman) - May 8, 2009

Fly Ass Glasses
The Protocol



From his vintage/ thrift store attire and grandfather-like glasses, to his laid back demeanor and air-tight production and lyricism, you can tell by first sight that Kansas City's wunderkind Greg Enemy is "not your ordinary rapper".

Exposed to a wide variety of music genres at a very young age, Greg Enemy (born Greg Henry, November 18, 1987) developed an ear for all types of sounds; ranging from big band and bebop jazz, to classic soul and rnb, to funk and rock & roll, which would later use in his production methods. Combining various styles to create a sound of his own, while also taking cues from the artist he looked up to like A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, Mos Def, Nas, UGK, Crucial Conflict & De La Soul. Fusing East Coast rhyme styles with a pinch of Southern twang, Greg Enemy's casual flow and lyrics have been described as witty, sharp, intellectual, and abstract, with a dash of down to earth, Midwestern charm…and it all comes together in a fun-filled, high energy live show that's second to none and always leaves the crowd wanting more.

In September of 2008, he released his self-produced, self-titled EP on his MySpace page ( and blog (, to much critical acclaim in the Kansas City hip-hop scene, touting his shortcomings on tracks like "Square" and "Fly Ass Glasses" and spinning detailed, autobiographical tales on "Down to Earth" and the title track "Greg Enemy". The success of the Greg Enemy EP has allowed him to go on to helm the sole production duties of two more EP's; one with Topeka native Stik Figa entitled Babylon EP (Feb. 2009) and most recently KC's own Dutch Newman entitled Dutch Newman and Greg Enemy made an EP…wanna hear it? (May 2009). Currently he is working on a full length solo project called A Little Bit of Daylight (with the lead off single "The Protocol" starting to gain momentum locally), which he plans on releasing in the spring of 2010. Always with his hand in several baskets at once, be on the lookout for a few more collaboration projects and features by Mr. Enemy throughout the year.