GRAND P IS A RAPPER ON A MISSION: NOT TO CHANGE THE GAME BUT THE WORLD
Born Michael Akin-Wumi Popoola, Grand P is an emcee, educator, and social activist who speaks from his heart. He is the middle child of a Danish/Swedish mother and a Nigerian father. At the age of just six, he got his first taste of hip-hop culture when he learned how to breakdance, practicing to the song “Hey You” by The Rock Steady Crew. He had no idea what they were saying, he just knew that it sounded cool. This would eventually lead to his interest in music and deep admiration of famed Queensbridge rapper Nas.
“He’s my all-time favorite,” says P, whose musical influences also include the likes of Marvin Gaye, Al Green, James Brown, Bob Marley, Anita Baker, Isaac Hayes and Ice Cube. “Listening to him [Nas] gave me the confidence to pursue my music career. I’ve always been amazed by his lyrical content, stories, delivery, flow and style since 1994 when I first heard him.” Now more than 20 years later, Grand P is telling his own stories through his own lyrics and delivering the content in his own style.
Although born in Denmark, P was raised in Malmö, the third largest city in the Kingdom of Sweden. It was there where the 6-foot-1, 220-pound rapper made a name for himself. He then began to travel back and forth to the United States where he would establish roots in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Shortly after, he started working on his debut album Essential with the assistance and collaborative efforts of several distinguished figures in the music business.
Released in 2011, the project included work by producers such as Bronx native Buckwild and North Carolina inborn Khrysis, who is a known affiliate of the production crews The Away Team, Hall of Justus and Little Brother. The list of fellow artists who made guest appearances on the album was also high-profile and included rap veterans Keith Murray, Shyheim of the Wu-Tang Clan, Sadat X of Brand Nubian, and Slaughterhouse member Royce Da 5’9.
In 2013, P followed up with his sophomore album Tranquility and is currently working on the third. But that’s not all that he has in the works.
Grand P’s most important inspirations for his music are life, the struggles of people, poverty, and the journey to success. A key part of his inspiration and motivation is also the Hassela Movement, a social initiative he co-founded in his homeland where he also serves as C.E.O. and Process Manager.
“Our goal is to reach out to young people between the ages of 16 and 29, many of them unemployed, some of them have done time in prison,” says P. “We focus not on their histories but on whom they want to be. We help them become social leaders. It’s community improvement through empowerment – both of which are very important for me to instill and inspire; whether it’s through my music or through my work as an educator. The Hassela Movement offers these young people tools so they can find a way to uplift and educate themselves; so they can become role models for others.”
The Hassela Movement, which was founded in January of 2012, functions in a six phase process that incorporates: 1) Interview, 2) Practice of Theory, 3) Internship, 4) Graduation, 5) Certification, and 6) Employment. In the same year of its inception, the organization graduated its first class, a group of 18 students. P marks it as probably one of the proudest moments of his life.
To date, the organization has certified nearly 100 men and women, all of whom went through the necessary steps to become qualified Youth Coaches. The next step in their journey is finding gainful employment and maintaining fulfilling and healthy lifestyles.
A double-major in Social Studies and International Politics, P is quite the intellect and certainly an insightful rapper. He sees music as an effective and influential way to make a difference in the world.
“My goal is to inspire people and get inspired,” he says. “I will keep on fighting for justice as long as I live through my music.”
Check out visuals from Grand P HERE.
Stay connected to Grand P
Instagram – @grandpinsam