“Food deals with megahertz. Food deals with vibrations. Food deals with all of that. It’s about just getting on the right frequency. And once you’re in tune, you can do anything. Or you can allow anything that’s good to happen.”
A great backstory. That’s all that’s needed sometimes. Too often, backstories are fictionalized or elaborated on in order to develop a notoriety that can precede success in today’s world of entertainment. I remember a talk with Adam Mansbach where he challenged the audience to consider, “How many times did 50 Cent get shot? How many times did 50 Cent visit his aunt that was sick in the hospital?” This illustrates the idea that sometimes it’s the legend that we gravitate towards and not the reality.
Today’s featured artist has a backstory that makes 50’s seem like a G-rated version of a Will Smith biopic. MF Grimm, one of my favorite artists – because of the quality of his projects and not because of what he experienced as Percy Carey, the man behind the MC pseudonym, is today’s interviewee. I could probably take up the better part of an afternoon relaying the events that occurred in Percy’s life between the time he spent on the set of Sesame Street to where he is today as a comic book and television script writer and MC. Instead, let me point you toward his graphic novel, Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm and this interview with NPR…
(Be sure to bookmark this page if you don’t have the half hour to spend listening to his life’s story on NPR – it’s worth hearing.)
We caught up with the man behind the legend, an MC/producer whose life segments could easily be episodes in an HBO dramatic series. Of course, we talked food but I also got some insight into the individual behind the craft. His life experience has made him wise in many ways and molded him into the artist he is today.
You’ve got your hands in quite a few projects in a variety of mediums. How would you say that food relates to creating, whether it’s writing or music or any of your other endeavors?
I’d have to say, how much time you put into it: preparation, foresight. I also see it almost like Chess. You need to have, obviously, a plan but also a strategy and also tactics in order to achieve – tactics just in case things go wrong or are altered. I view it as a science. I see it the same as a chemist or anything else. Not saying I’m a master chef but the appreciation for food and the craft itself, yes, I’m aware of it. It’s a formula for success, dedication – it’s the same elements. One thing I think is a little different about cooking is you can taste when someone loves what they’re doing. Music you can feel it. Television, you can see it. Film, you can see it. Art, you can see it. But food, you taste the love – you taste the dedication. Not everyone’s palette is the same but still you can get a generalization of the emotion behind the “artwork.” From the design on the plate, to the presentation, you can really tell when someone cares.
You just mentioned that you’re no master chef, but I know you just prepared a salmon dinner for yourself. How are you with the cooking? How would you rate your kitchen skills?
Honestly, I think it’s based on others. It depends on the critics. Me, I feel I’m pretty good. I haven’t had any complaints. I think that’s a good sign. I’m surrounded by so many people that are so passionate about it as an artform that I consider it like music or anything else – know your place. In regards to me, I feel I’m a great cook but I’ve met masters…so, I’m decent.
What are you trying to gravitate towards or stay away from, in terms of food?
I eat a lot of seafood. I prefer seafood but being around certain people, I’m eating more and more vegetables. Lots of greens. I’m a meat eater but I don’t eat pork. I eat beef but not as much, occasionally. I think I’m pretty good, well-balanced. I kinda like to stay with the same thing so I’m kinda boring in that sense. I like to stay in my little comfort zone. There’s more things I like than what I stay away from. The list of what I stay away from is so little. I just try to eat as healthy as possible for whatever circumstance it may be. I drink a lot of juice; a lot of water and a lot of juice. I’m really about the juice and seafood.
“Music, you can feel it. Television, you can see it. Film, you can see it. Art, you can see it. But food, you taste the love – you taste the dedication.”
What about with projects? What are you trying to gravitate towards or stay away from in terms of projects that you’re approached with?
Actually, I’m really focused on Drasar Monumental and myself as a group. And of course Vendetta Vinyl. I’m not looking to do any appearances. It’s cool and I appreciate it but I don’t go looking for appearances. I’m kinda set with what I’m doing. I’m just focused on making music that makes me happy, first. Instead of being a commercial product. I’m staying away from anything that stops me from film and television. That’s where my focus is. As a musician, I can’t get away from it. I’m always gonna do it. I think I need to complete some individual accomplishments before I go search to be in a collective group of people. Especially the way music is now. It’s so saturated. It’s unfortunate that sometimes you can oversaturate yourself by just trying to please everyone and do everything. It’s not about how much you can pay me – it’s also about being happy with what you’re doing, being pleased with what you’re on and not just jumping on projects because you need cash. I’m attracted to things that are historical, that will be here 200 years from now. I’m not thinking about just today or tomorrow but tomorrow’s tomorrow. I’m picking wisely what I do from this point.
I wanted to touch on the triple album, American Hunger. It’s fitting, with the Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (titles of individual discs) and overall themes. Have your ideas changed since putting that together?
No, it’s stayed the same. That time period is locked in time. I’ve grown and certain things I see differently now but there was no way to see that then. The only way I’m capable of change now is to reflect on what I put out into the universe and wait for it to bounce back and see how it affects me when I absorb it. Of course, American Hunger, for me, means America will eat it’s young. No matter what circumstance, whether the FDA or the FCC or whatever letters you want to spell out, they always find ways of manipulating the young and using them for their purposes. That’s why I said American Hunger: America eats it’s young. In regards to Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, a well balanced day is supposed to have all three.
The other album that’s kinda fitting is The Hunt for the Gingerbread Man. And the mixtape, The Order of the Baker. It’s fitting because they’re also food related. You were able to bring up a lot of imagery using sweets and baked goods in a sugary make-believe land. Are you into sweets?
Yeah, I love pastries and things of that nature. But it goes a little bit deeper because with my complexion, I was always called that. Gingerbread Man. I love concepts and I thought it was a great concept. I love candy, pastries – you can check but I believe I rhymed about candy, cake, pastries, cookies and everything for 32 minutes and 9 seconds or something. Straight. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before. I never lost topic and never changed topic. That was for The Order of the Baker, which was kind of a play on Harry Potter’s Order of the Phoenix and things of that nature. It’s from a focus on films and television. In the song, Half Baked, the whole song is all candies – some of those candies are no longer in existence so the younger generation may not appreciate it. I don’t get too crazy with it. I don’t tell people “go eat candy” but I like it.
The ideas and concepts in your work – you’re a very deep individual, where are you drawing your inspiration from or coming up with these ideas? Do you read a lot?
I do read as much as possible. Now, being older and having multiple responsibilities, I don’t get to read what I’d like as much as I’d like. But I’m always needing to read things based on work. So, I’m constantly reading. But I’d have to say, my time as a child – being 5 years old on television. I was on Sesame Street. I was picked by Jim Henson so I had the opportunity at a very young age to talk to Jim Henson about ideas and dreams that I had and for him to tell me, “that’s a great idea.” I was inspired at a very young age to be creative, be a creator. Being in the world of Sesame Street at a young age, I absorbed it. I feel like I’ve always had these abilities to create and tell stories. But in order for it to develop, only time could do that.
One time on Sesame Street my tooth came out. I put it under my pillow, I had a dream and the next day I told Jim Henson about it and he used it for a whole segment in Sesame Street. I had to go through Sesame Street to find my tooth. I don’t forget anything in my dreams. It’s always been like that.
And what about spirituality? You touch on quite a bit of ideas that could be considered spiritual. How does that play a role in your day to day?
Honestly, I kinda try to stay away from that realm. I’m very in tune, as far as I’m concerned, but I try to stay away from that realm because that seems to be the biggest problem in the world right now. People are not respecting each other’s space and time. I guess spirituality is a good thing when everyone is benefitting from it. Until then, it’s just a tool. Look, I’ve been to hell and back and then back again. Some self-inflicted and sometimes it was manipulated. Spirituality, I think it’s all about growth.
I bring it up because embedded within a lot of your projects there are things that I would say are more knowledge of self and I guess I was equating it with spirituality. Would you say it’s just about knowledge of self?
I think it’s knowledge of self and acknowledging others. People. If someone doesn’t really care about themselves, it’s hard to care about others. In my opinion, everyone is selfish. Even the most selfless person. Most people do what they do because they want it to be done for them. So, if someone instinctively jumped in front of a bullet to save a child it’s because of what that person can live with and not live with, and that’s the reason they did it. Whether they did it as their job or out of the blue, there was a selfish act behind it. I think being selfish is just an energy, whether positive or negative, whatever. That’s where balance is because there’s negative selfish acts and positive selfish acts. Knowledge of self is great but it depends on how you’re using it. If you have knowledge of self and you’re capable of making others better or enhance their lives in a positive manner, without disrupting the world in a negative sense – it’s hard to express what one should do but knowledge of self is the salvation to learning others. Being willing to learn. Being willing to know. You can learn from everyone. You can learn from friends, enemies, rich, poor, all you have to do is listen. It’s right there.
I can respect that. Let’s bring it back to food for a bit. Do you have a recipe that you could share with us?
Sure. I hope you don’t mind that it’s not my original recipe. A dear friend of mine created this amazing recipe and taught me how to use it and I think it’s worthy. She’s an amazing organic chef and she’s been a very strong force in my recovery, physically.
Marinated Tempeh Tacos w/ Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Dressing
1 package tempeh (sliced in 1/4 inch strips)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari
-Add marinade to Tempeh strips and let stand for 15-20 minutes, you can
prepare the slaw and dressing while you wait.
1/2 napa cabbage – shredded
2 carrots – shredded
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
-Mix all ingredients and set aside
2 limes- juiced
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup avocado oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tsp sea salt
-Add avocado and lime juice to a blender or food processor till smooth,
drizzle in the oil while the machine is running. Then add the cilantro and
pulse till chopped.
Small Corn or Flour Tortilla
In a hot sauté pan add tempeh and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes or until
Griddle tortilla or heat in oven
To build the taco, grab a tortilla or two. Add a scoop of the slaw, then two
slices of Tempeh and finish with a few spoonfuls of dressing.
That sounds incredible. We’ll be hooking that up for sure. Can you talk about the changes in your recovery or changes in diet that have led to the positive changes in your recovery? (Percy is wheelchair bound from gunshot wounds that left him paralyzed from the waist down.)
I work out as much as I can. I stand up – a lot has changed in my body. I can feel my entire body. A large shift in my recovery – certain things were respected and certain things weren’t, certain things were manifested but that goes back to knowledge of self and mind. But that all starts with fuel. OK, we’ll talk about the mind. Obviously what you eat comes into play as well because the mind burns glucose. Whatever you put in your body is fuel for your brain. Herbs, teas, certain minerals and replacements and substitutions of meat or whatever. Alternatives that I didn’t even know existed nor even took the time to care. That balance is the difference with nutrients that my body is receiving now. I’m talking within a 20 year span now. Certain things were needed. Knowledge was needed. I woke up a lot. I would just eat whatever, whatever, whatever and expect my body to do exactly what I’d tell it to do. It’s a partnership, a relationship, a vehicle and you have to respect it. Life is good when it comes down to it. Food is a great thing. It gives you a good feeling and it can be the difference in your day. Food deals with megahertz. Food deals with vibrations. Food deals with all of that. It’s about just getting on the right frequency. And once you’re in tune, you can do anything. Or you can allow anything that’s good to happen.
As always, the interview shared here is just a snapshot of our conversation. This dude is deep and from our conversation I found him to be one of the wisest people that I’ve interviewed. He also happens to be one of the most humble, thoughtful and respectful individuals that I’ve had the pleasure to dialogue with. His catalogue is impressive. From his first release that was recorded in 24 hours the day before he was to begin serving 15 to life to his recent projects with Drasar Monumental – all top notch. His work as a ghostwriter is equally impressive, if you’re to believe all of the rumors floating around the net, he admits he ghostwrites but doesn’t divulge more than that. In terms of writing, he’s working with some major publications including USA Today. If you have a Kindle, you can also check out some of the work he’s co-authored. In addition, he also happens to be president of Arch Enemy Entertainment. Dude puts in work. You might be surprised at some of the projects he’s had a hand in. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with everything he’s working on…that he’s allowed to talk about. And we’ll do our best to keep you up to speed as well. Until then, his musical catalogue is waiting, give it a listen.