Über Jean Grae
An immensely talented artist based in New York, Jean Grae has been winning praise from critics and indie rap fans for many years now, thanks to her smooth flow and intensely personal, stereotype-smashing rhyme schemes. Born in South Africa to jazz musician parents, she moved to America as a child, attended the prestigious LaGuardia School of the Arts and Performing Arts (i.e. the Fame school) and danced with Alvin Ailey's second company. After honing her skills with other like-minded artists such as Mos Def and Talib Kweli (before they got famous), Jean -- then known as What? What? -- released her first record, a three-song EP, with the group Natural Resource. The project, especially the track "Negro League Baseball," won rave reviews and topped the college radio charts. The group broke up in 1999, but Jean stayed busy, dropping choice cameos with a wide assortment of underground heavy-hitters including Mr. Len, Masta Ace, Herbalizer, Prince Paul and many more. In 2002, she finally released her long-awaited solo debut Attack of the Attacking Things, continuing to entrance new fans with her high quality rhyme (and production) skills. The Bootleg Of The Bootleg EP followed in 2003, prepping heads for her second full-length, This Week, put out by Babygrande in the fall of 2004. Four years later, she issued her best album to date, Jeanius.