In promoting his new EP, set for an Aug. 22 debut, Papa Graz sat down with the smokers lounge to answer some questions.
SL: So how are things going?
PG: Everything is actually going really great. For the first time in a while, Im finally getting content.
SL: A lot of people probably dont know that you have battled a lot of obstacles in your life in the past year and a half or so. Can you give us any insight as to what happened and how youre doing now?
PG: Yeah. The past year and a half has been hell, but I dont hide anything. I just got over an addiction to xycontin and vicodin that really destroyed a lot of my life. That shit had me in hell for about 8 months or so.
SL: How is that going now?
PG: Ive been off of them for about 4 months now. I started detoxing in mid-January and it took until about the end of February for the withdrawal symptoms to completely be relieved. I started working out and lifting weights, so Im finally healthy again. Back to my old self.
SL: Didnt the addiction cause other problems, though?
PG: Oh yeah. I lost one of the best friends I ever had because she caught me red handed stealing some of her oxycontin. The bitch part about that though, is that she was the one that got me started on them. She was an addict at the time herself, so, when she decided to end our friendship because of that, with her being an addict herself, I found that very hypocritical. When Im myself, and not some guy strung out on oxycontin, I would never steal anything from a friend like that. She knew I wasnt myself, but she didnt care. But, you live and you learn.
SL: You also had another friend that you lost to some scandalous situation, didnt you?
PG: Yeah. This guy that I was best friends with for four years. I had been seeing this girl off and on for about 2 months or so, and I completely ended things when I caught her outright cheating on me. A couple months after that happened, I popped up at his house. His dad told me me was in his room and to just go upstairs. He didnt know I was coming though. I walked in the door and saw him sitting on his bed with her right next to him laying on his lap. I was pissed. I was so sick to my stomach in that very instant, that I just shut the door and walked out of the house without saying a word.
SL: Did the friendship end there?
PG: No, because I was stupid. He had been such a close friend of mine, that when he made up his bullshit excuse of how he and her had gotten to that point, I wanted to believe him, so I forced myself to. I knew in the back of my head what he was telling me was bullshit, but its one of those situations where what you see is so unreal, and something that was so far away from anything you thought youd ever see, that you want to find any reason to believe the persons explanation, so you force yourself to.
SL: How was the friendship after that?
PG: It slowly went downhill from that day forward. The more time went on, the more and more I thought about it, the more my rational side started refusing to accept the bullshit excuse he gave me, which caused me to trust him less and less. Eventually, it got to the point where we werent even really friends, rather just hanging out in groups because we had mutual friends but I never trusted him again. When he actually started dating the girl I was just speaking about with the oxycontins, that started killing my relationship with her, because they started dating before the oxycontin situation.
SL: I bet you were pissed.
PG: I was beyond pissed. I still am to an extent. Those were two times in my life where Ive never felt so betrayed. To be honest, after she started dating him, for reasons I cant get into, I felt she had betrayed me so much, that in all honesty, I didnt even feel guilty for secretly taking some of her pills here and there. In a way, felt after the way she tore me apart inside, she kinda owed it to me. Of course, she didnt see it that way, but
SL: Do you ever talk to her anymore?
PG: Just recently I spoke to her a few times on the phone. I called her about getting her permission to use her vocals on Emotionally Burned so I didnt have to get someone else to do it, and that resulted in a two hour conversation. I dont even know why I care about her sometimes. Part of me despises her, but another part of me still has a lot of love for her. One thing has been finalized in my mind though, and that is that due to both of their actions, I dont know if I will ever let any friends into my life or mind or heart to the extent I did with them. Im not saying that Im a perfect friend, but I would never do that shit to someone. I dont know why, but every friend Ive ever had has turned on me in some form or fashion, and its gotten to the point where I almost dont even believe in having friends anymore. Like, when 2pac once said I dont have any friends, I just have people I hang with thats how I kinda feel now.
SL: This stuff must be great ammo for your music, though?
PG: Oh, yeah. Its inspired me beyond belief. That stuff, combined with some family problems has been the catalyst for 90f my writing over the past year or so. Most of these stories will be told on my album.
SL: What other rappers do you listen to for inspiration.
PG: I listen to a shit load of 2pac and Eminem. From where I sit, 2pac is the greatest rapper in history, and Eminem is the greatest emcee that is currently living. I also listen to a lot of Obie Trice, Young Buck, Christina Aguilera and Ray Charles. I listen to all of them for different reasons. 2pac fills me with raw emotion and realness, Eminem I listen to for lyrical inspiration because I think hes probably the greatest lyricist in the history of the game, just phenomenal. Obie and Buck inspire me to harden my backbone and not take any shit. And Christina and Ray fill me with the need to reach a persons soul.
SL: A lot of people might be surprised that you put someone like Christina in a group with those other legendary artists. How do you respond to that?
PG: By saying I dont really give a shit. A lot of people might want to look down on her because she started out as a pop princess, but if you watch her career, not only has she said from day one that she never wanted to be labeled as that, but shes also done everything possible to distance herself from your typical Britney pop bullshit. I mean, I aint ever seen Britney go as far as getting down like Christina did in the Dirrty video and Britney or Jessica Simpson could never in their lives record a song like Beautiful or Walk Away. Christina, for my money, has the best female voice in the music industry, bar none.
SL: So, tell us about your new EP, when is it coming out?
PG: Well, I just started working on it really about two weeks ago. Its going to have about 7-10 songs on it and its going to cover a lot of what we just talked about, as well as some other shit. People who dig real lyrics that you can tell had heart and soul put into them and that tell a story, will dig my shit. The release date is Aug. 22.
SL: Can you give us any insight into the songs?
PG: Well, the only confirmed song is Emotionally Burned. But, songs that are likely to end up on there with it include Step With Respect, Forever Changed, Transformers and there will be a hidden track on the album called 52 Bars, a song I just recorded a couple days ago.
SL: How is it going to be different than the music youve posted on your website or myspace?
PG: Well, its going to sound a little more professional to start. The songs on the net that make the cut are being re-recorded to make it sound better which involves adding backing vocals and ad libs, and if financially acceptable, hopefully some sound effects too. But, basically its just going to sound more professional.
SL: Any guest appearances?
PG: Hopefully. Im in negotiations to get a rapper from Chicago named Zoser on it and a guy from Hartford named Terror.
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