Jean Grae is a hip hop artist. Born in Cape Town, South Africa on November 27, 1976, the daughter of South African jazz musicians (her father and mother are the celebrated musicians Sathima Bea Benjamin and Abdullah Ibrahim), she studied Vocal Performance at the High School of Performing Arts before majoring in Music Business at New York University. Grae later joined a hip hop music group called Natural Resource, and in 1996 they released a pair of 12-inch singles called Negro League Baseball b/w "Bum Deal" b/w "They Lied," and "Bum Deal(remix)" b/w "They Lied(remix)" b/w "I Love This World" on the label Makin' Records. She also appeared on singles by fellow Makin' Records artists Pumpkinhead and Bad Seed, and on the O.B.S. (Original Blunted Soldiers) double 12-inch single alongside crew members Pumpkinhead, Bad Seed, and Meat-pie, and produced much of the material released on the label under the pseudonym Run Run Shaw. During this period she established strong ties with the Brooklyn Academy crew, with which she would appear throughout her career.
Natural Resource dissolved in 1998, after which Ibrahim changed her stage name from What? What? to Jean Grae, a reference to the X-Men character Jean Grey. Under her new moniker, she released her first LP—Attack of the Attacking Things—in 2002, and followed it with two more album releases over the next two years. Throughout her career she has also recorded tracks with numerous major hip hop artists, Atmosphere, The Roots, Talib Kweli, The Herbaliser, Da Beatminerz, Phonte, Mr. Len, Masta Ace, Vordul Mega, C-Rayz Walz, and Immortal Technique among them.
Jean has recorded an unreleased album with celebrated North Carolina producer 9th Wonder, of Little Brother fame, entitled Jeanius. This unfinished record was leaked on the internet, and subsequently work was stopped on this album. However, at the release party for 9th Wonder's Dream Merchant Volume 2 album she stated that Jeanius was still going to be released. Elsewhere, its been reported that her proposed fourth album, provisionally titled "Pheonix" has gone into production. It has been reported by several camp insiders that 9th Wonder will handle the lions share of the production duties with unknown UK producer Passion HiFi and NY resident Clinikal providing a beat each.
Previously signed to Babygrande Records, she signed a deal in 2005 with Talib Kweli's Blacksmith Records. On 28 April 2008, Jean Grae posted a blog on her MySpace page saying goodbye to her fans. There has been debate as to if Jean Grae has quit Hip-Hop or just MySpace. As of April 2008, there has been no official statement from Jean Grae or Blacksmith Records as to her future in the music industry.
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