The words "femcee" and being a "conscious" MC are pretty distasteful terms for the all around amazing artist "Tsidi Ibrahim" who is better known as, "Jean Grae" and Jean openly expresses these sentiments in this HuffPost interview. Jean was born in Cape Town, South African and was raised in Brooklyn, New York by two Jazz musicians as parents, with her mother being a musical star in her own right. Jean was born on November 26th, 1976 and would study vocal performance and music theory at the La Guardia School of Performing Arts which would lend itself very useful for her musical career growing up and as her career progressed, as she states in this Pitchfork interview. By the time Grae was about 20 years old she was interested in being in a rap group called Ground Zero with an artist named Rhythm who provided Grae five beats for what would be one of her first demo's that Jean would send to "The Source Magazine". That same year Jean would be dubbed the "Unsigned Hype" honors. Consequently, before she could ever official join Ground Zero she would join another group called, "Natural Resource". In 1996, Jean released her first 12" single known as, "Negro League Baseball" under her first stage name, "What? What?". In 1998, the group Natural Resource disbanded and so Grae changed her name as he went solo to Jean Grae as a reference to X-Men's character Jean Grey.
It would be 4 years until Jean would release her next project in, "Attack of the Attacking Things" (2002) and later, "This Week" (2004). Talib Kweli would notice the unparalled skills of this underground MC in Grae as he would sign her to his record label BlackSmith Records. Jean Grae posted on her Myspace in 2008 in which she threatened to retire from Hip-Hop due to multiple reasons in which had to do more than just be disenfranchised by a gritty and unforgiving music industry. She would then decide to not do so and instead claimed she is no longer exclusive to Hip Hop and would explore avenues that included writing, directing, being a comedian and much more. The long awaited masterpiece album with 9th Wonder, "Jeanius" that was awaited to drop in 2004 but was delayed due to it being leaked before it was 100% finished would ultimately be released in 2008 and was still received very high praise of album that stood the test of time. Since 2008, Grae has released three albums in, "The Evil Jeanius", "Dust Ruffle" and "Gotham Down". Due to frustrations with the industry and the lack of recognition for her artistry, the anticipated, "Cake or Death" project has still not been released for years now and Jean has stated she might put the project for a extremely high price point to see who really would support an independent artist and allow the fans to show how much people value her music (which is akin to the business model by Nipsey Hussle). Since the death of her mother a couple years ago, Jean has stated she is doing what she can to constantly expand her creative arsenal by creating her web series, "Life With Jeannie".
We encourage you to check out her self directed and extremely creative music video, "Kill Screen" and to check out some of her amazing music below!