I have to admit I had a hard time writing this piece to begin with. When I was initially presented with the task of writing about Gliffics and his song, Burgundy Walls, I didn’t know where to begin. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to write the piece. The glaring issue was the fact that Gliffics had chosen to rap over a J Dilla beat. While he is by no means the first or the last MC to borrow from a producer, how many times have we seen MCs attempt to stand on the shoulders of giants in an attempt to elevate themselves? Jay-Z releases ‘Open Letter‘ and within a news cycle there are innumerable other rappers, real and wannabe, who feel the need to add their two cents. It’s become cringeworthy. And, rote. And, uninspiring. So, I decided to contact the man and talk with him one on one so, I didn’t rake him over the coals out of some misguided sense of protecting J Dilla’s legacy. Who the fuck am I anyway? I never even met the dude.
I’m glad that I did.
Gliffics is good people. My impression of him is an earnest lover of rap music who see’s its potential to be transformative and healing. During our conversation, Gliffics spoke of how he found his purpose in life through song writing, and how after hearing the Dilla beat, once slated to be recorded by Phife Dawg, he became lost in thought as he reflected on his life and the person he was. When I asked, why Burgundy Walls? His answer was simple: That is the color of the walls in my apartment. Those were the walls he was staring at when he was listening to the beat and started to recollect on his life. He did exactly what rappers have done for decades and used them as a starting point to tell his personal story. To talk about a life that he almost lost to the recklessness of youth, and his love for the music that he once took for granted as just being about punch lines and battle raps. This is not some fly by night charlatan who is just trying to get a little buzz off of a big name. He rapped over the beat with blessings.
Gliffics has been working on his craft for 12 years strong. He co-produced his first project in 2011 with Illmind. Completely self-funded, the project garnered the one time battle rapper recognition as a more than just another trash talker and attracted the attention of Tribe Called Quester, Jarobi. The two began to work together and it was with Jarobi’s encouragement that he wrote and recorded Burgundy Walls. He continues to work on honing his craft and infusing his music with his positive outlook on life. Currently working with Eddie Montilla, a man who has worked with everyone from Nas to the Pet Shop Boys, he plans to release a tentatively self titled album in the near future that he hopes will show the world that rap music is more than bad bitches and bottle poppin’. Gliffics, Egyptian by birth, took his name from Hieroglyphics, not just the written word, but the writing on the wall. It is more than rap, it is a message to the world. One that he hopes will heal people in the way that it has healed him.
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