Jean Grae was born in South Africa to politically conscious musician parents who immigrated to New York for more freedom when she was very young. Though she identifies as a New Yorker, she stays close to history and exemplifies the struggle Black female artists go through in Africa or in America. She speaks of the struggles faced regarding the education system, health care, police injustice and many other social issues. A primary focus in her lyrics is the nature of hip hop and what it takes to make it in the game and how someone like her will always be left out of the limelight. She could be compared to Immortal Technique in many ways with her no apologies delivery and super hard core style most of which should be applauded. However, in tracks such as “Hater’s Anthem,” where she departs from inspirational hip hop and capitulates to promoting violence, resorting to degrading language to women, and homosexuals she reinforces her similarities to Technique and many of his downfalls. She also works with Immortal Technique directly in very positive ways on several other tracks such as “The Illist” and a very powerful piece called “You Never Know.”But in my opinion much better collaborations come with Talib Kweli in tracks like “Black Girl Pain,” where she reaches to her African roots making connections between the struggles faced by black women on both sides of the Atlantic. After a psuedo retirement, she is still working on Talib Kweli’s record label.
“Black Girl Pain” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhRKepkIrPE
“Black is the Color” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMW37NbjuCc&feature=related
“My Story” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFz6ECvaiqQ