Out of the Pacific Northwest come the fresh renegade artists of Kung Foo Grip, not to be confused with the rock group Kung-Fu Grip or horrorcore rapper Kung Fu Vampire, but the duo, made up of emcees Eff Is H (aka FISH) and Greg Cypher. With solid projects already under their belts, albums like The New Flesh and Growing Up In The Future, these two fine examples of men and artists look like they’re not about to go pop or taint their music anytime soon. Painstakingly prepared bars over fresh original beats make Kung Foo Grip an always reliable, dynamic twosome with respect. We at Swurv were able to catch up with them to answer some of our pressing questions. Check out what they had to say…
SwurvRadio: You two are from Seattle, Washington as it says on your Bandcamp page, right? How has that area influenced you both and your music?
Eff Is H: The Seattle hip hop scene is what shaped us, but I feel like our perspective is different from your average Seattleite. Our music is more reflective of our surroundings and the places we grew up in. There are alot of different sounds in Seattle so we’re just trying to carve our own lane and tell our story.
SwurvRadio: How old were you when you started rapping, how did you meet and how did you come up with your individual names and your group name?
Greg Cypher: We both started writing rhymes and freestyling pretty young, but officially we started rapping as Kung Foo Grip when we were 16-17. We met at a bus stop through mutual friends and the rest is history. Greg Cypher because my name is Greg and I was always active in the cyphers but heads never knew my last name so they just called me Greg Cypher and the name just kind of stuck. That’s me 100% though. Eff Is H is really just a long way of saying Fish. Fish isn’t an average fish. He’s an underwater sea creature akin to the loch ness monster. The name Kung Foo Grip comes from the energy we wanted to express. We’re tough to break and we’re very skilled at what we do. That’s the foundation of everything.
SwurvRadio: Your most recent major album was Chemtrails I believe, and it has a well balanced mix of good attitude, messages and quality lyricism. Do you find you have to sacrifice one at the expense of the other or can you do both at the same time without much difficulty?
Eff Is H: No, but not everthing needs to be super lyrical all the time. I know I can rap so if I wanna do that I can pull that out of my toolbox. Right now it’s about honing that in. It all depends on the track and we experiment a lot too, so you never know what to expect.
SwurvRadio: The new fad in hip-hop is obviously the mumbling, slurring rapper. What do you make of the prototype and the phenomenon behind their rise?
Eff Is H: I bump it all day. I understand why people don’t like it, but in every generation of hip hop you’ll find something you don’t like. People always talk about look how bad music is right now but it’s really not. There’s so much music out you can find something for everybody. It’s not how my music sounds but I think the 2016 XXL freshman are dope. In my opinion, we’re not living in the the golden era of hip hop so you can’t compare it to that.
SwurvRadio: With all the emcees that have done their thing in years past and new artists coming up today, what separates you from the others?
Greg Cypher: We’re a hybrid of the old and the new, the ignorant and sophisticated. I think our appeal is wider. There are only a few Hip Hop goups I can name that are making an impact. I feel like we’re the next Outkast. We make music for everybody. We can relate to the old heads just as much as we can connect with our generation with the sounds that are relevant today.
SwurvRadio: The productions you choose are very progressive with the rich ambience, the samples and the not-too-hard drums. Do you deliberately try to stay away from older styles like boom bap, as if to ensure that the nature of the hip-hop beat evolves?
Eff Is H: Nah, as a matter of fact, our next project Concrete Waves is a collaboration between us and SEA-NY based producer SCLY. It’s mostly focused on boom bap but we tried to make sure that there’s a “current” feel to the production. We didn’t want to make a “classic” sounding album. We wanted to make an album that was relevant musically in 2016, the evolution of the boom bap sound. We try to approach our production a little bit differently on each project we do.
SwurvRadio: You have a handful of projects out at this point. Do each of you have a favorite?
Eff Is H: I feel like if I dont say the next album its bad promo! I cant wait for people to hear our album Concrete Waves with SCLY!
Greg Cypher: We approach every project differently and they all represent different chapters of our lives. I really enjoy Concrete Waves though. Working with SCLY and our engineer Elan Wright, it was a really fun process making the album too.
SwurvRadio: Can you discuss any new directions or ideas you’ve been throwing around for future works?
Eff Is H: We’re working on our album right now, and it may or may not have a Lil Jon feature on it.
SwurvRadio: That sounds very outside the box but at the same time very compelling. Are there any other particular producers or vocalists you really want to work with at this point?
Eff Is H: I want to work with El-P really bad. I wanna work with Metro Boomin. Yassin Bey.
Greg Cypher: I would love to work with El-P from Run the Jewels as well. Kanye West. I’d love to do a track with Macklemore. Anderson Paak is one of my favorites also.
SwurvRadio: Along those lines, what artists did you enjoy listening to growing up and who do you like now?
Eff Is H: My favorite rapper ever is MF Doom. He’s the greatest. Right now, if Future drops a project I gotta go download it immediately.
Greg Cypher: I love all music. I grew up bumping a lot of old school rap and early 2000’s essentials like Kanye West, 50 Cent, Em, Lil Wayne. Also a lot of Seattle rap like Blue Scholars, Common Market, Cloud Nice, Gabriel Teodros, and Fresh Espresso. Right now, I really like Anderson Paak, Future, Kanye West, Kaytranada. I love Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, everything comin’ outta Chicago, Kendrick Lamar, hella people.
SwurvRadio: You’re probably well familiar by this time with how your current label Cabin Games works, but would you ever sign with one of the major labels considering their reputation and all?
Greg Cypher: We’re just focused on the right now. We gotta make a great album for Cabin Games and that’s all we’re thinking about at the moment.
SwurvRadio: Since it’s not easy to come across, especially in the mainstream, do you think more rappers should be discussing social issues, policy and wise philosophy in their verses?
Greg Cypher: Of course. And there’s a way to do it and still sell records! There’s alot going on in the world so there’s a lot to talk about. I think it’s important we use our platform to fight for the greater good and for what we believe in. It’s also okay to disagree and have different opinions and styles. That’s what makes Hip Hop dope to me.
SwurvRadio: Thanks for sharing, guys!
There you have it. With a strong foundation and the right aspirations, Kung Foo Grip have already made serious waves in their home state and are quickly seeping onto the national stage. They resonate in a big way with young forward-thinking generations with their commonly appealing content and vitality. Check them out more in depth by listening to their projects through their Bandcamp page and by following them on Twitter (@KFGxHR and @kungfoogrip_) and Instagram (kungfoogrip_).