Thursday, July 08, 2010

First Listen: John Graham "Ascension Methods"

My relationship with John Graham started in kind of a weird way. He had hit me up on twitter to check his track. I didn't know the dude from Adam but he was persistent about it. I hit him back telling him the appropriate way to send me music. We went back and forth via twitter and email. He's definitely a cool dude. His music, meaningful. It's music with a poignant message. This project MUST be heard. I reached out to dude for a Q&A and to go in depth on each track! I think it's important you understand where he and his music are coming from. Seriously, you gotta check this out!

The Mad Bloggers: Is John Graham your government name? If so, why that approach in your music?

John Graham: John Graham is the government name indeed. I used to go by the name "J. Qwest" up until this project. I reached a point in my life where I felt that it was time to shed stage names and give the listener "Me" with no veil or anonymity. This project is actually a mirror reflection of who I was and now who I am which is one of the reasons why I call it "Mirror Music".

TMB: What was the motivation behind Ascension Methods?

JG: I was asked by several of my close friends for quite a while to get back in the studio and record again, to which I would simply respond "I'm done with music." My last project "Hurry Up & Wait" was done in 06' but I never really pushed it. So I took about 2 1/2 years off from music because I was simply uninspired by what I was hearing. Additionally, I was going through quite a few growth spurts personally at the time (that's another interview:-). Fast forward to 2009 when I recorded "State The Deal". I think one of the most overlooked albums of 08' was 808's & Heartbreak by Kanye. Not overlooked in the commercial sense of the word but overlooked in the sense that Kanye exposed his soul on that album and a lot of people didn't feel it because they thought he was soft and wack for singing. That album touched me point blank! Then I hear Jay Electronica and his coverage of things both physical and spiritual in his lyrics was super inspiring. Then I hear the Drake mixtapes from his O.V.O. days (pre-Young Money). The level of self examination he showed on tracks was amazing, especially for someone of his age. It was after all of this that I felt it was time for me to speak.

I went through a great deal of spiritual growth over the course of the past 2 years that has impacted my life and the life of those around me in a severely positive way. So every subject that I covered on the album from health and well being, to your true power as an individual of the collective, to natural childbirth, and love are all topics that are near and dear to me. I have a life coaching practice called PurposeCoach ( that is focused on helping people become the best possible versions of themselves by working on the mind, body, and spirit. This project was simply a vehicle to do the same only through the medium of music.

TMB: You used a snippet from then President Elect Obama's speech on election night, why?

JG: I chose to chop up the victory speech of brotha Obama for a few reasons but mainly this. I remembered watching his speech the night he won the election and I vividly remember him telling the people quite plainly that this would not be easy. He was basically telling people that he's not the savior and that the work that needs to be done will and can not be done by him alone. However, I think a lot of people were so caught up in the feeling of having the "first" black president that they overlooked the meat of his speech. So I fashioned the clip in a way that spoke exactly to what I was hearing him say minus all the presidential fluff.

TMB: What would you like folks to get from listening to Ascension Methods?

JG: My ultimate desire for those who listen to Ascension Methods is for them to recognize their own power and potential to create their reality as they see fit. I want them to hear my story and know that if I can do it, so can you. I want them to know that the self imposed limitations that we put on ourselves every time we use the words "Can't, Won't, or Don't" often times create the negative circumstances that we face in our lives. I wish for them to see that 10 minutes out of their day spent in meditation/contemplation can serve as the canvas to paint the world they wish to live in. I want people to become more conscious of their thoughts and actions and to turn off their auto-pilot responses and behaviors simply by getting in tune with the divine within. Lastly, I wish for this project to inspire dialogue and discussion. We are taught from an early age to notice and judge others by our differences. There are far more things that we as a people (human) have in common. Considering the times we're in we need unity more than ever, not just in the black community but in the world community.

TMB: John, I think it would be important to give people a breakdown of each track. Can you do that?

JG: It's funny you should ask for that. I'm in the process of writing a book to compliment the music with that exact purpose of delving deeper into each track and the motivations behind them.

1. A Call to Ascension (Intro)
- I took the audio from President Barack Obama's Chicago victory speech in 08'. This is how I interpreted his speech minus the fluff...

2. The Last Glimpse
- This song only gives a peak into some deeper concepts every 4 or so bars and then I change directions. I do this to sort of dip my toe in the water if you will. Probe the listener for their level of awareness on various subjects as the rabbit hole only gets deeper from here on out.

3. Meditation Staycation
- This song is highlighting some key benefits of incorporating meditation into your daily routine. You have the power to paint your reality on the open canvas of the universe through meditation. I truly devote 10-20 minutes every morning before I go to work to meditation. This is how I plan my day and my future.

4. Thru Time & Space
- This song captures the "We Met, We Fell, We Married" journey that my wife and I have encountered. Every lyric in that song is authentic, even down to the Range Rover, and Ford references. LOL!

5. Innocent Girl
- This song was meant to inspire young ladies and young men to remember their virtue. I've seen so many young women get caught up in the party scene only to be used and tossed away like objects. I've also seen young men who only objectify young women and use them for their own selfish purposes. This song really used some situations that are quite real but can serve as a lesson in action and consequence.

6. Business of Being Born (Interlude)
- I think this one speaks for itself. However, my wife and I are choosing to do a natural birth at home. When I tell people this, they usually balk and give me the "Why would you do that face". I remind them that for millenniums there were no hospitals deliver your child. Women have been giving birth naturally for ever and only within the last 100 years has it become institutionalized. It all comes down to information and that was the intent of the interlude.

7.Absolute Power
- This song served as the Trojan horse for the entire album. The beat was entrancing, and it spoke to me. This song is plainly telling the listener that there is duality in life (+/-). You have the power to choose either side of the coin, but your choices do come with consequences. Basically stated, think before you act and know that you have the power to change the world if you choose to.

8. State The Deal
- This song was my first song back after 2 1/2 years of not doing music. I wanted to expose my inner thoughts on this one and let the listener know my feelings on music and where I was with it at that point in my journey. I gave my views on where the music industry is headed and why. P.S. No disrespect to Lil Wayne or Soldier Boy

9. The Index
- This song was a "vent" song if you will. I was feeling pretty strongly about how the genre of hip-hop has fallen from grace in my eyes. The overinflated ego, the money machine that creates a false desire for unhealthy music and then saturates the market place with it, and various other issues. I also talked a bit about my struggle with wanting to do music but on my own terms.

10. The End of The Beginning
- Honestly, I've been doing music and free-styling for over 15 years but it seems that with the release of "Absolute Power" it's finally being noticed. I realize that it's only being noticed now because I'm ready for it to be so. However it seems that so much time has been put into music and now it's only just begun. I featured one of my partners on this track as well by the name of Tron (@hiphoptron) who has one of the dopest projects I've listened to in a while "Person in My Position".

11. Brilliant Sights
- This track is an actual account of a vision I had about a past life experience as well as wisdom that has been revealed to me in this journey. I know it's a bit out there for most to digest, but it's a very personal track for me as I've been on an accelerated path of spiritual growth over the past few years now. Interestingly, I've met so many people along the path that have also encountered their own past lives. We're out here! 

12. Good Food (Interlude)
- I went from 315lbs to 220 in a years time primarily because I changed my lifestyle and my eating habits. It all began first by educating myself on the food I eat and how it affects our bodies. I decided to use a bunch of clips from the documentary "Food Inc." because they capture so accurately the ills of the commercial food industry and how the consumer has no idea about what they're eating. Food for thought: When you look at a hamburger on TV, do you see the finished product, or the animal it came from? Just checking, LOL!

13) Extenuating Circumstance
- This happens to be my favorite track because it is literally my "Mirror". I tell my coaching clients that you can't begin to improve yourself until you come to grips with all of your flaws and hideous character traits. This was simply me saying "Hey, I know it's hard! I've been exactly where you are or possibly worst, but if you change your mind you can change your life"

14) Brave New World (Outro)
- This sample was taken from an interview with the creator of the popular truth documentary "Zeitgeist" Peter Joseph. He really spoke to the possibilities of our future if people decide to unite and put down the capitalistic models that keep us subjugated and struggling on an individual level. 

<a href="">A Call To Ascension (Intro) by John Graham</a>

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  1. Peace! I fully co-sign this project by John Graham. He is a light-bearer and emcee in the truest form. If you appreciate good vibrations and lyricism, do download this FREE masterpiece. You will be happy!

  2. Anonymous8:03 PM

    one, hip hop might come back alive if people go back to the purpose like john grizzy.

  3. Anonymous3:20 AM

    @ Anonymous - I truly hope so my friend! The only way to ensure that this continues is if we connect people back to themselves. This is the purpose of the music. Love & Light to all!

    -The Vege10Nerd