S.G. – Ninja Stars
Salim Graham aka S.G. the Iron Lion is a professional musician\producer, writer, for DEK Records and Hanan Music Co. He created the label in 2004 because he wanted to build a music organization filled with talented artists, musicians, vocalists and dancers from all backgrounds. After studying the art of production, he began scouting talent from all across the country, developing young men and women into becoming great talent. He then saw a vision to expand his label into schools. In 2010, he did his first project with a senior in high school, assisting him using his music knowledge, to help him graduate. To Salim, this was monumental, so he traveled the east coast promoting his free studio to teens all over.
By 2014, his music has traveled all across the world, featuring in mixtapes hosted by Lil Wayne, and currently the Digital Dynasty 29 (Hosted by Lords Of The Underground) which was produced by Tha Advocate. He also has an album coming soon produced by Tony Tone, a Wu-Tang DJ from Germany. He currently resides in Pittsburgh PA and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On a cold March day we had a chance to catch up with the homie and it went a little something like this.
HipHopLead- Lets get right into this. For an upcoming artist to have started his own label and been featured on those big mixtape it’s a pretty big deal. But what seperates you from the rest of the people trying to make it in the game?
S.G.- The only thing that separates me from other artists trying to make it is, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m now seasoned.
HipHopLead- What are your long term goals for hiphop?
S.G.- To sell a million records…build a label for the people, and create music the world can fall in love with… movies, commercials, videos, the whole nine. I want my music
every where from elevators and shopping malls playing in the background.
HipHopLead- Would you rather be on an indie or a major label?
S.G.- I’d rather be an indie, but have the support of a major distributor, you know. Have thatindie product the majors want.
HipHopLead- Counting your self name me 4 other strong artists from the Bronx that can bring New York hiphop back to the throne.
S.G.- I got to say my fam…they been doing it since day one…they showed me everything I know, that is my cousin Rahman Spears, Eshawn Hall, Finale Music and Melvin Hassan. They go in.
HipHopLead- What events in your life made you want to pick up and mic and get busy?
S.G.- I was there in the 80’s when hip hop was born…cardboard boxes, graffiti, breakdancing, everything. When I heard, “Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge”, I was at the edge of my bunk bed in Yonkers watching the rats chase my sister out of her bed. I saw crack, liquor and weed early. Gambling, fighting, the streets…all before 8 years old. I remember
RUN DMC coming down the block in Manhattan, I remember looking out the window
over the Brooklyn Bridge saying, “I cant wait to take over this city”.
HipHopLead- Your video “Forever Strong” is a hard core hiphop track. It has a sound that reminds us of M.O.P. or some early Ruff Ryders material. Explain to us how that track and video came about?
S.G.- Tony Tone, heard a few my tracks and he sent me this beat to collaborate with him on. So once I heard it, I had no choice but to add my brothers and go in. It was the energy of the track that lead the song to where it ended up ya know…
HipHopLead- Are we going to see any albums coming soon?
S.G.- Yes, I’m currently working on a Bronx Ninjaz album produced by Tony Tone. We have 14 tracks of pure fire!! No other leaks than that, but trust me, It will bring the BX Back for sure. Oh and a single produced by Crate Logic. They heard some of my work and sent me this dope beat, They said they’re doing a project with HellRazah and I had to jump on that..
HipHopLead- Other then being an emcee ..what do you do in your spare time?
S.G.- In my spare time, I like to paint..oil, acrylic, water color, marker, what ever medium I choose. I like to do portraits and abstract art. I’m also writing a book that will eventually
turn into a film…now that book is gonna be something…I mean, SOMETHING!
HipHopLead- Are we going to hear S.G. doing in a song for the ladies?
S.G.- “Oh yes, I have this single called “Tell Me What You Want”. Oh man, I’m playing my guitar on that joint and it is super sexy.
HipHopLead- A lot of people say your flow and voice stand out. It’s a much needed combination to make it in hiphop…. you have a quick strong flow, a New York born and bred flow, do you think people from the South will be able to levitate towards it?
S.G.- I lived in the south for some years, and I battled a couple dudes in Atlanta and the crowd really didn’t feel it like they did the other dude, but I’ve developed since then and I’m able to tell a story that is universal. The south got a struggle that the north don’t Got. Ya know, something they call tobacco road..I know all about that. They can levitate towards that type of story.
HipHopLead- Speaking of the South how do you feel about the music most of their artists make?
S.G.- I feel it. 2 Chains said a line that always sticks in my head…it makes me smile cause it’s mad clever. Lil Wayne got lines that stick in my head too, so while I can feel some of the material, one thing I think that lacks is that heavy knowledge that New York always brought to the table.
HipHopLead- On top of being a Rapper yourself you also are a Producer. What are your weapons of choice when making a beat?
S.G.- I’m computer savvy. I learned the mac products while in college and the basic fundamentals of hard and software. While Triton, Rolands, and Motifs are all great pieces of hardware, and they are great for stages, my weapon is using my 21.5 inch screen iMac. That Garageband is something else when you know what you’re doing with music and sound…all my teachers of music used MPC samplers, and ASR’s and the like, but I never sample. I want to make music that can be sampled in the future. I think of myself as the Prince of Hip Hop. He HATES samples!
HipHopLead- We heard the first record you ever produced. What was it like knocking out your first track as a Producer?
S.G.- After that track was done, mastered and all, I flew off the handles!! I was invited to Brooklyn for interviews on the Air It Out show. I was able, with confidence, to walk right up to Hot 97, lie to the security guards and tell them I had an interview with the program director, just to drop off that single. They let me pass. They could see the look in my eye..(laughs)!! But yo, that was the best experience for me because It was my first go at it, and the world received it just the way I saw it would.
That track meant the world to me cause every line was true…every lyric was heartfelt…and at the time, I had to go through hell just to complete it. It originally started off with 6 different artists. But when It started getting noticed that our team was making noise, jealousy started kicking in. I had to drop everybody and go solo. That’s why that song is so personal to me.
Here at HipHoplead.com we like to ask some questions a bit out of the norm to give fans a broader perspective on you. So with that said … GET READY!
HipHopLead- Is the Mayweather and Pacquiáo fight ever gonna happen? If so, who do you bet your money on?
S.G.- If they let Mayweather at Pacquiao, game over. Someone may get paid to fall and it aint gone be Mayweather. I put my money on him, Mayweather all day!
HipHopLead- Best Bronx emcee of all time??
S.G.- Gotta be – KRS One!
HipHopLead- Grade French Montana’s rapping ability on a scale of 1-10 and 10 being the best.
S.G.- All I can hear is “Nigga I aint worried bout nothin” and damn….it’s not all that lyrical. But I never really listened to his album like that so I can’t really rate him totally. But on that song, it gotta be 3. Just being honest.
HipHopLead- What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you?
S.G.- The craziest thing that ever happened to me was, I once prayed to God to send Some one to tell me who I was, an hour later, I get a phone call saying, “I’m the angel Azazel sent by God to tell you who you are”.
HipHopLead- One night with Melyssa Ford or Kim Kardashian? Who’s going home with S.G.?
S.G.- I’m a keep it 100… Melyssa Ford.
Back to the norm…
HipHopLead- We peeped out your collabo song for “The Real (Hip Hop). It def had a message you and your team wanted to get across. A lot of bars and real subject matter. Lets be honest.. is that missing from the game in your opinion?
S.G.- Honestly, yes…most artists are coming out now just want to sell a record. Kendricks subject matter goes hard, even EMINEM got sick subject matter. I’m even tired of Kanye acting like the victim, like he the only one to feel the pain of success in music. To me.. we got kids who parents are gone, who’s family cut them off, who broke, who feel like the world aint for them. I want them to know that the world aint so bad…that’s why I wrote that song.
The real is coming…we not victims…that’s why I said “Jesus Christ will Live, thru my words and every time I pray”. I know music is a business, but don’t forget, we started Hip Hop in the Bronx with a message, ”Don’t push me cause I’m close to the
Edge”, or my favorite line from Run DMC “ Take the head off the devil and I throw it at you..” I was raised off lines like that…now, it’s nigga i aint got no worries…so yea, subject matter is definitely missing.
HipHopLead- Thanks for chopping it up with us homie … where can people download your mixtape and check you on the web!? Give us some shouts outs and links.
S.G.- Here is the link…track 23 “Bronx Ninjaz” Produced by Tony Tone – Tha-Advocate-DD29-Hosted-by-Lords-Of-The-Underground
or http://www.audiomack.com/album/thaadvocate/digital-dynasty-29, here is a link to my music instrumentals and other music: http://www.reverbnation.com/dekfederal/song/17440454-dekade-centuryinstrumental
Shout out to Tha Advocate for putting me on this classic mixtape…much respect for that. Shout to all the fans globally who rock with me for real…shout my older brother who kept me going…and shout to my wife for holding me down…Shout to Tony Tone for hitting me with those bangers!!!! Shout to Crate Logic for hitting me with that fire….Peace to all my BX Fam, we coming!!!