Right before his performance as the headliner for the open-mic night at Baltimore’s The Windup Space, I caught up with Baltimore’s own Wish GRANTed. Just days before, the rapper opened for Curren$y at The Baltimore Soundstage.
What initially got you into music? What about hip-hop and rap specifically?
My mom. One Christmas, my mom got me a saxophone. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t know nothing about music, and didn’t picture myself playing an instrument. I always liked hip-hop, but what actually got me doing the concerts is I went into the Air Force when I was 18 and then, in Basic Training, it would be times where people wouldn’t be doing anything, and when there was free time to actually relax, somebody might start rapping and I used to kill the raps like every single time. After I left, they were like, ‘you need to do something with your music,’ so when I came home, I did a couple songs and had my first show. It went great with the crowd screaming out ‘Grant! Grant!’ so I just kept going with it.
Who would you consider your major influences to be?
Life, for one. Hearing people’s lives and what they’re going through. [Also], hearing flat-out good, new stuff. I’m really inspired by Kanye West, James Brown, Michael Jackson. I’m inspired by good showmen. If you can put on a good show, I’m pretty much going to be inspired. Hip-hop artists that inspire me right now are Machine Gun Kelly because he knows how to perform. As far as the sax-side, I knew that when it came to hip-hop I didn’t want to be known just as a rapper. I’m more of an entertainer.
In one word how would you describe your music?
Right now, incomplete. I’ve got so much more to do. I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I’m good, but I’ve got so much more to do. This is just the start.
What usually inspires you to sit down and write a song?
When I do shows or when somebody hears [my music] and says ‘that really touched me,’ that’s what really keeps me going, knowing that I can touch somebody with my music. I like to tell stories about real-life situations that people go through, the reality of life and not knowing that everything is going to be fine keeps me going. If I passed away tomorrow not knowing I was doing what my purpose was, I would have a lot of regret, and fear of regret is what keeps me going.
What about about the specific influence for your debut single “The Juice?”
You know OutKast? They have a track called Rosa Parks and in that track they’re rapping and the hook is good. There’s a part where the guy plays the harmonica, and it goes back into the hook and I just thought, ‘if I had a song like that.’ So I thought I was going to play the sax. I wanted it to have a classic hip-hop feel, so I went to Chief Rocka and sampled it.
Where does your name Wish GRANTed come from?
I have no idea, to be honest. My name was Grant at first, and as I kept recording music, I just kept saying ‘wish granted,’ and people kept calling me Wish GRANTed. Just as long as people know who I am, at the end of the day.
You’re a Baltimore native. How has growing up in Baltimore influenced you and impacted your journey?
I try to find a positive in everything. Me seeing how hard it is. Also seeing music and a story everywhere. You can walk down Eutaw Street right now, at two or three o’clock everyday, and tell a story. The struggle is a story on it’s own. I don’t have to struggle myself to talk about it because I see it so much.
How did it feel performing in front of so many people from your own city the other night with Curren$y?
It was good. That’s the way people can really see who I am and what I do in a nutshell. Usually it’s a great response every single time.
What was it like working on your mixtape “Wish GRANTed: First Wish?”
Stressful. [It was my] first time ever doing a mixtape. Seeing what actually goes into it, the money, the time, trying to get people to work as hard as you when they don’t necessarily want what you want. So it’s a little bit tougher.
Do you have a favorite track on that album?
I have to say it’s between the ‘Intro’ and ‘How the Game Is.’ ‘How the Game Is’ is the one where I’m playing the piano and rapping at the same time. When I recorded it, I actually cried because I heard it talking about a lot of real situations at the time. It was a very emotional track for me.
What can we expect next from you?
Right now, I’m working on my second mixtape ‘Wish GRANTed: The Second Wish.’ I’m going straight James Brown hip-hop on ’em. At the shows, you’re going to see a lot more energy, a lot more moves, me getting down up there, a lot more sax, a lot more piano. It’s going to be a show I can take across the country.