feature: the craig mums grant story
By Eye Candy
October 27, 2014
Hip-hop: is an organism made of elements all of its own. Giving voice to artist is one of the most essential components to sustaining hip-hop’s authenticity. Craig muMs Grant is a New York based Poet, Actor and Playwright. His story, Sucker Free Emcee is a lyrical journey of spoken word. The show is underpinned by the beats of Legendary DJ/Producer/Poet Rich Medina harkening back to the birth of hip-hop. He spit, he sweat, he gave us the truth of growing up in the Bronx to landing a leading role in the HBO hit show “Oz.” muMs’ perspective is so essential to looking beyond the materialism of hip-hop. Many times we get trapped into the idea that hip-hop is something that can be bought, sold and translated through ones “swagger” or street sensibility. However, muMs brings a refreshed perspective of the significance in his storytelling.
By Priscilla Ward, AFROPUNK Contributor
“I felt like hip-hop needed to be humanized. Outside of what it has become for people to actually see it as an art form. For people outside of hip-hop to see it as an art form,” muMs said. muMs’ work addresses the importance of being authentic.
“You don’t have to fit into anything specific to be successful. One can stay oneself and do that until the rest of the world catches up or catches on.”
Jenny Koons, the Director of Sucker Free Emcee recognizes the significance of giving voice to artist.
“I got a call from muMs last April where he told me he wanted me to come to NYC, listen to the monologue for A Sucker Emcee, and have a meeting with him and the Director Jenny Koons. The rest is a snowball rolling downhill,” Medina said.
Koons approached muMs about creating this piece together, after seeing him at a few open mics around New York City. The team took about a year to produce the piece.
“I’ve been a fan of his since the ‘90s and was thrilled to see him performing live again. Between his acting and his poetry, it seemed impossible that he hadn’t created a one-man show already,” Koons said.
Koons’ portfolio consist of creating work for Diamond Horseshoe Nightclub, Dixon Place and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week just to name a few. While stepping away from her normative; she wanted to make sure muMs’ story didn’t go untold. The project went on for 3 weeks at the Labyrinth Theater Company. The crowd reactions were a mixture of snaps, tears and reckoning with the beats that capture the essence of hip-hop’s history.
There was something in this performance for everyone; from finding oneself to the simple celebration of the past and where hip-hop is headed.
Medina said, he hopes “people took away a renewed knowledge about the birth of hip- hop culture, a sense of support in the idea that we all face fears that we must destroy to thrive, and a new perspective on how important it is to think outside the box.”
Although, Medina has a long-standing relationship with the stage, Medina said, “I learned that theater, acting and the preparation necessary to pull off theatrical productions is far more intricate and involved than I could’ve ever imagined, despite my experience with the stage and screen to date.”
In the future Medina hopes to share his own story. Medina, has a long standing in New Yorks underground hip-hop and house music scenes; playing at the notorious clubs around the city.
Medina found working with muMs’ to be extremely inspiring.
“The most rewarding thing about this collaboration was two fold. On one hand I was watching a long time friend manifest their dreams. In another sense I was providing the soundtrack to those dreams. That combination of factors has combined as one to be the most inspirational thing about it all,” Medina said.
We are looking forward to seeing more from muMs’ in the near future. He’s currently preparing to work on an album, headed to Norway to teach with the Norwegian Theatre Academy and my play Paradox of the Urban Cliché will be produced by Poetic Theatre Productions at The Wild Project in February.
Priscilla Ward is a DC native and microwaved New Yorker. She enjoys keeping an active pulse on the arts, entertainment and cultural scenes of DC, New York and Philadelphia. She also freelances for Brooklyn Exposed and MadameNoire.com. She aspires to one day have her own cartoon. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Macaronifro
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