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Fresno Hip-Hop Artists Grafik and Bravo Elevate the Local Scene
There are local stars, small-town heroes and then big-time prospects. Fresno-bred emcees Grafik Ruffin and Bravo are the latter and moving up fast producing multiple mixtapes, tweeting like Diddy and overloading YouTube with videos representing the nickel-nickel-nine.
They both possess a charming fine-line between humbleness and confidence that only true hip-hop fans-slash-artists can conquer. They are also well aware that musical success nowadays is far from being just about the music.
“Every year there is something new and every year the industry moves faster and we have to stay working on our brand and the music” Bravo said.
“Sometimes you get frustrated because it's about a whole bunch of things now. It's about Twitter, Facebook and networking and there's always going to be something new out there that we have to learn.” Grafik seconded.
But they are great at embracing the reality.
You can subscribe to Bravo's YouTube channel at Thebravonator and find multiple music videos shot around Fresno; a great way to add visuals to vocals and a face to a name.
One of his most recent uploads is a short video for the song titled “Never Know” and features Fresno local Nae Alma's soothing voice on the hook juxtaposed to Bravo's intense lyrics and steadfast delivery.
“Never Know” is on his upcoming mixtape Pleasantville and the video has such a unique vintage quality, you would never know it was shot on the Iphone 4. It's very gritty, has engaging graphics and the style compliments the raw quality that east Fresno (and hip-hop) embodies.
You'll find Grafik on YouTube at ValleyBoyMusic and GrafikRuffin via Grafik TV. He hilariously puts people on point with lifestyle tips, highlights his much practiced stage presence and covers his tours from the Bay to L.A.
Grafik has an alluring “My Aura” (find the song on his upcoming mixtape The Fever) and watching him perform, either through a computer screen or live, it is evident he is in the right profession.
“I tried a lot of sports growing up but rapping was something I always felt I could be the best at,” Grafik said. “I've never really lacked confidence, so that has spilled into my music and probably when I wasn't as good, or when I was just becoming good, I still rapped like I already was,” he said with a smile.
The guys met back in their early teens when Bravo's cousin Fashawn, a rising emcee, linked them musically and eventually the three, along with The Pay Per View Kid, formed the group Section 8.
The group is slowly working on the album Dangerous Minds, but all are featured on Fashawn's current album Grizzly City 3.
“I remember re-meeting Fash at a family reunion and he was rapping like crazy and was really good. Then I started rapping and he was telling me I was dope and should join his group,” Bravo reminisced. “After that, I was like yeah, I should.”
Bravo started writing raps around that time, at age 15, and remembers realizing that it was something he really wanted to pursue.
“I've just really always wanted to do something different from everybody. I mean, growing up everyone always rapped, but I just wanted my raps to be different,” he said. “I don't have to be the best, but I want to be the best to somebody, somewhere.”
Grafik has a very vivid memory of rhyming quite young. He was about 8 or 9 years old and on Christmas Day his uncle put a video camera on him and said, “What you got to say G?” Grafik started rapping about God and has never stopped free-styling since.
But as mentioned before, it's not just about the music and while Bravo is steady producing videos and making beats, Grafik has worked on another venture for their brand and hometown.
Clothing store FTK, Fresno's one-stop-shop for hip-hop lovers, has featured Grafik's “I'm so 559” t-shirts in numerous colors. One fan has even posed with Lil Wayne while sporting his black and red one, as posted on Grafik's Myspace page. Currently the t-shirts are sold out but look out for more.
“FTK has been a big part of helping out here,” Grafik said regarding hip-hop in Fresno. And they show their appreciation by plugging in the store wherever it rhymes.
So with both finishing up a new album, a show September 3rd at The Cellar Door in Visalia and videos in the making, it's apparent that Grafik and Bravo are working on a takeover and for hip-hop heads that means Fresno is moving forward in the right direction.
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