Don Gramur is a Hip Hop and New Soul artist from Louisiana who is passionate about inspiring growth in others through witty lyrics and unique vocals. The recording artist has dropped 15 singles this year and is not slowing down anytime soon. Don Gramur is a pioneer for the new age of music.
- Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
Don Gramur: Of course. Well, I’m from Monroe, Louisiana. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. I spent most of my life in Roe City as we call it. However, my younger childhood years consisted of life in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia, with short lived stops in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Texas. Most of my family is from Tallulah, LA, which is where I lived before leaving for Georgia around the age of 3, but hey that’s a story for another day lol. I’ve been into music forever! I started as a singer at a very young age. As I grew, I sang in many choirs and talent shows because it’s just something that I loved to do. Around the age of 14, I started venturing into writing music. I would try to write R&B and even raps. My Pops was a musician. So I’m sure that influenced me. I would always see him writing all styles of music from rap to gospel to R&B to soul. Anyways, that passion grew as I got older and here I am now, a rising independent Hip Hop and New Soul artist in the industry.
- Do you handle both the songwriting and beats on your songs, or do you collaborate with others?
Don Gramur: I handle all songwriting. As far as beats, I collaborate with my peers for the most part. My brother A.S.F. is my main guy. This guy is one of the most genius when it comes to putting together sounds. I’ve also worked with Torch from Ohio, K.E. On The Track, and Supa Mario Beats. All of these guys are super dope. Umm, I guess I just like to focus on being an artist. I know that I have the capacity to make great beats but my purpose is centered more on the message I have to give.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Don Gramur: Absolutely my Pops. He was the first person that I witnessed the Hip Hop culture from. Every day we listened to Tupac, Scarface, Ghetto Boyz, you name it. And he was writing his own music and mastering the craft when I was just a boy. My musical influences range greatly. As I grew in age, guys like T.I., Wayne, Jeezy, Luda, Game, John Legend, and Jamie Foxx became artists I considered top notch and I learned from. Oh, I can’t forget the legends like Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye or new veterans like Cole and K Dot. Of course there are others, too many to name. The most influential aspect of these artists is that they helped me view music on a wider scale.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Don Gramur: I believe that my music puts people in an optimistic mind state if they truly listen. I like to make songs that uplift them or answers a deep question that they have been searching for an answer to. I use witty word play and unique vocals to grab their attention. I want to make them listen. It’s good music. Healing music
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Don Gramur: Well, I’ve definitely went through those phases as I was learning the game. Every artist does because they have someone they saw doing it. I believe that now I am so different from anything the industry has heard while still keeping up with the standards of the new wave. It took some time. I do believe it is because, as artists, we have the tendency to want to keep up with the trend of the industry, instead of allowing the industry to value what we have to offer. I’m at a point where I am so in tune with myself that I will only make music that comes from the spirit. If it is not purposeful for me or the listeners, then it’s pointless. I used to force songs to fit the cloth of what was happening in music. That wasn’t my full potential. Now, I’m making songs that will last forever. Why, because they have meaning.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Don Gramur: I’m usually just speaking what I believe and I’m also a very spiritual guy. This could come off as me pushing an agenda or beliefs. However, that’s simply not the case anymore. I often talk about my relationship with the most high in my music. At one point, I did in fact do it as a means of spreading a message, in which I felt like no one was hearing. Now I do it to simply show people the Glory of the most high and how he moves in my life. I’m not spreading a message, I am the message. That being said, I am interested in music as an expression of my artistry. I don’t hold anything back when making music. It is who I am to be positive and uplifting in my songs. I will also speak on the killing of people whom I love. I will speak about injustices far and wide. I will talk about love and heartbreak. I have no limits. Being who I am shows the most high’s Glory more than anything.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and hope people will empathize with your sound?
Don Gramur: I once did. Fun fact, my first EP was written to appease the crowd. At that time, I was trying to appease the crowd but also be unique. I did well. However, it wasn’t me in top notch musical shape if you know what I mean. I’m presently only focused on making music that aligns with me and my vision. This type of music doesn’t take me long to write because I’m in a better mental space. It usually comes to me in no time. I get excited about writing and recording it. I just believe that if I love it, somebody else has to lol.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat, or a narrative in your head?
Don Gramur: Sometimes I start with a beat. Sometimes it’s a narrative depending on what’s happening around me at the time. Look, there is no formula to beautiful music. That’s the truth. Experienced musicians know that it’s going to come together just how it’s supposed to at just the right time. I’ve been play singing and created amazing works. Just let it flow.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?
Don Gramur: Finding Identity. Why? I didn’t even know I was looking for myself. That’s a very hard pill to swallow, especially when you start truly learning who you are and your purpose. You go through many trials. Everything around you looks ugly. You wonder if you’re on the right path. You’re dealing with the issues of life. Family problems, financial mishaps, being pulled in many religious directions, world issues, trying to make a living. I didn’t know what I was truly capable of until I knew who I was. Everything was a struggle at first. I know who I am and my purpose now. That was my redemption and how I overcame.
- On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Don Gramur: I’ve done a lot in 2020. Besides dropping 15 singles over a period of 8 months, I have also been featured in some popular publications and received radio play on some legit stations. This is special because I am doing this independently. One man army on most occasions. But I do network on an insane level! Oh, I’m also building a few businesses at the same time! This point in my career is incredible and I’m amazed at myself.
- If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what you and your music is all about?
Don Gramur: Positivity, Love, Discovery, Empowerment, Happiness.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
Don Gramur: I handle it pretty well. I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if you are doing your best or worst. Critics are always waiting to talk about something. Waiting for you to make a mistake so they can cast you off. I don’t pay attention to it anymore. It’s just a distraction in my opinion. I’d rather focus my time on appreciating what I have and who I am. Not what people say about me or try to make me out to be. I am who I say I am.
- Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?
Don Gramur: Having ownership of my works and the limitless possibilities when recording music excites me. Most mainstream artists are binded to contracts that only allow for making certain types of music. I don’t ever want that. I’m going to build my own and be myself 100%. At one point, I was discouraged by being overlooked, but now that doesn’t even matter. Being independent is literally the best thing ever.
- If you had a choice to go on tour with any acclaimed industry artist in the near future, who would you choose, and why?
Don Gramur: Hmm. I’m going to choose Lauryn Hill. I believe it would be a very interesting experience. I would love to co-write a song and perform it with her also. I believe we can make a very powerful song that would spark a great change in the world.
- Could you tell us something about your latest project, and what fans can expect to hear?
Don Gramur: My latest project is a visual hip hop project. All I can say is expect to be enlightened and hear some crazy bars. This is for the true hip hop fans for sure.
- Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?
Don Gramur: I have many that are very special to be honest. My first song of 2020 was called “Held High” and it told about some of the struggles I was facing as I was elevating and finding true identity. It was also encouraging for others who may have faced similar circumstances. I loved the song. It sounded very different from what you normally hear but it was incredible.
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most?
Don Gramur: Definitely a creative work in a studio environment. I’m more excited by being locked in working on a composition than performing it. When performing, I’m trying to entertain a crowd. In the Studio, it’s just me and my work.
- What’s your favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Don Gramur: “People don’t just bestow greatness upon you, you have to earn it”
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you would suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?
Don Gramur: I believe it is very important. So much that I am focusing on doing a lot more video production sooner than later. I did a visual cover to a J Cole song in 2018. It is available to view on my Don Gramur YouTube Channel. I recorded it on an iPhone lol.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Don Gramur: Being able to do what I love to do while making a living off of it is the best thing ever. Life for me is getting better and better. You have to understand. I’m coming out of a deep slump financially and mentally. Life is good.