The Grand Agent Story
Part One: Becoming Grand Agent
It was a fateful February evening in Center City Philadelphia. The year: 1998. At the record and apparel store turned cultural hub Footwork Illadelph, the frontman of NAME, a tour de force on the underground Hip-Hop scene declared himself Grand Agent.
Til then he’d been known alternatively as Brother Jared, Jared El or just plain old Jared. But
lack of a flashy moniker hadn’t stopped the North Philly representer from garnering a number of subterranean hits.
Most notable among them “Essay Tee” and “Black Thought” were both featured on Lost Page of the B-Boy Document. The release of that cassette-only album was being celebrated with a rousing live set on this particular February 13th.
Yup. True to the rep established around town
since ’95, NAME killed and events were set into motion that would propel Grand Agent far and wide in the pursuit of his passion. A stint of good old-fashioned dream chasing in LA led to a contract with European powerhouse Groove Attack and his first solo album By Design. Now widely considered a cult classic, GA’s debut By Design featured an impressive cadre of guest producers and performers.
Hi-Tek, Lord Finesse, Kutmasta Kurt, DJ Revolution, AG, Planet Asia and Chops all made the roster.
When the label came calling for a promotional run, Grand Agent parked the Yellow Cab he’d been driving to support himself and relocated to Cologne, Germany, where Groove Attack was headquartered. It was Independence Day 2001.
To be continued…
BY DESIGN | 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
“Easily one of the most impressive debuts to have come out of the underground in the last year or so, North Philly’s Grand Agent flaunts one quality that no amount of studio trickery can fake–confidence. His rhyme scheme is sharpened enough to lyrically lacerate, and he flips lines with such graceful ease that you wonder where he’s been hiding all this time. The album’s production ensemble (including Chops, Kutmasta Kurt, Lord Finesse, M-Boogie, and others) is equally impressive, and surprisingly consistent despite the differences in sound. The best tracks–“Know the Legend,” “Straight from the Gate,” and “New Mingling”–are practically instant classics. Grand shows unexpected introspection on “You Don’t Love Me,” a story about his deadbeat dad. It can be rough out there, figuring out which new underground albums are fat and which are flat. Grand Agent leaves few doubts on which side his debut resides. Trust us–don’t sleep on this new kid on the block.” — Oliver Wang