There’s a new hip-hop star in town and his name is Johnny Active. That’s right, all you yyc-beboppers and break-beaters, Grady Welbourn aka Johnny Active is soon to be blowin’ out headphones all over this city.
At only 19 years of age, he and local recording studio Mercury Recordings put together a snappy album called “The Grady Bunch” with some pretty sick mixes and sweet rhymes. What’s great about Mr. Active and what’s really earned him this stellar feature on Calgary is Awesome, is that as a local boy, he certainly represents our fair city every chance he gets.
“Calgary is home and always will be,” says Grady. “People often tell me that it’s cool I’m rocking Flames gear in my videos and stuff. I love that they notice and appreciate that. Also, Calgary is cool, man. I mean most people think of Calgary as this Oil Baron city. There is that side, but there is a lot of music and art bubbling up here.”
Well said, my friend, well said.
When I heard about Grady and listened to some of his tracks, I wondered how the heck a 19 year old put together such a tight album? Like most of us, the year after becoming of legal drinking age was a bit of a blur to say the least. But not this guy, he’s doin’ stuff.
Grady started writing rhymes in grade five and just continued on to shooting videos and recording music. He claims hip-hop was his first love (sorry to all the ladies out there) and could never give it up.
“I used to be a pretty shy kid. Hip-hop isn’t shy,” says Grady. “I mean hip-hop started out as being music for and from an oppressed generation of people that wasn’t being heard. In almost the same sorta way, hip-hop has let me be heard.”
Inspired by other local emcees such as Transit, Chief Navaho, Lexington + Whatevski, Metawon and of course Dragon fli Empire, Grady says that there’s so much talent in this city that we should give credit to.
“My favourite part about our music scene is also that it’s growing. More opportunities are coming up for dudes like me. I’m not as educated when it comes to the rock scene, but the hip-hop has grown leaps and bounds since I first stepped on the yyc scene,” says Grady. “We’ve got 10@10 which is an amazing event. First Thursday of every month, ten hip hop acts each have ten minutes to do their thing. That’s amazing.”
When I asked Grady about his next performance or a tour, he regrettably informed me he is currently residing in TO for the school year. I’ve assured him we won’t hold that against him.
You can download The Grady Bunch for free. Yes it’s free. Let’s support yyc hip-hop, and perhaps a Johnny Active will come back home and give us a show during a reading break.