“There are people still in the hood—I understand their struggles and what they are going through because I lived it,” says Leonard Grant, also known as Uncle Murda, “…the voice of those trying to survive in the hood and those trying to make it out of the hood.” With a promising rap career that spawned from the guttered streets of Brooklyn, New York, Uncle Murda is the embodiment of the rags to riches dream. Known as the voice of the streets due to his hardcore lyrics about his real life experiences, Uncle Murda is living out his mandate as one of the most powerful authoritative voices of Hip Hop, painting a detailed mural of his past life in the streets relating to the everyday struggles of those in the hood.
Uncle Murda and his long time manager/producer, Cooch (Tuneheadz), secured his first record deal with Ruff Ryders in 2002. After some initial success with the label, Uncle Murda and Cooch were ready to stake a bigger claim in the music industry, joining forces with the late great Chris Lighty of Primary Violator in 2006. The relentless MC went on to garner mainstream attention in the underground rap scene in New York and beyond with the release of his two widely successful singles, “Bullet Bullet,” and “Run the City,” produced by Tuneheadz - the single that ultimately caught the attention of Jay Z. The Brooklyn bred rapper/CEO signed Uncle Murda to his label, Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella Records in 2007 and immediately, Uncle Murda went to work, landing a coveted spot on his label mate, Fabolous’ song,
“Brooklyn,” (From Nothin To Somethin) alongside Jay Z. The hit song, along with the success of his trailblazing mix tapes, evolved Uncle Murda from the underground music scene to achieve more commercial appeal. “Unfortunately, the record deal didn’t work out when Jay left the label,” the MC reveals. “Jay and I are cool, he’s still that dude. I appreciated the opportunity, and know that everything happens for a reason.”
Following the success of his two hit singles, Uncle Murda turned the streets up once again with three popular mix-tapes (Hard to Kill, Back On my Bullshit, Summer Time Shoot Out) later followed by New York’s underground street anthem, “Warning.” Uncle Murda’s resilient hustle continued under the tutelage of Lighty--ultimately landing a record deal with Epic Records under music mogul, LA Reid, at the end of 2011. “I knew that if I continued to beat up the streets up with my music,” Uncle Murda says, “Chris would go get that deal, and that’s exactly what happened.”
With the launch of his highly anticipated eighth mix tape, coming December 11th, entitled, The First 48, hosted by Mike Epps, Uncle Murda plays off the crime based reality series, taking listeners through a series of ‘Do or Die’ street records, hood classics, and party anthems. The Brooklyn rapper pays homage to his manager and mentor, Chris Lighty, on the highly controversial street single, “Real N**** Shit,” as well as the thought-provoking Chris Lighty skit that marks the middle of the mix tape. “Working with Chris Lighty was like magic,” Uncle Murda reminisces of his longtime friend and musical counterpart, “Chris taught me to never stop hustling. He taught me to stick to my script, and keep it real, believe in myself and go hard.”
Currently, Uncle Murda is working on his yet titled debut album, and promises that the compilation will be an entertaining masterpiece from start to finish—and like an enthralling movie, will keep you on the verge of your seat with tales of the hard knock life, while making you think, laugh, and even dance at the same time.
After years of controversy—run-ins with the law, former feuds with rappers such as 50 Cent, to escaping gun shots to the head without serious injury, Uncle Murda, realizes the benefits of putting his gun down to pick up a mic, but it wasn’t always that way. As a young boy, with the dawn of each new day, Uncle Murda would wake up to the startling cry of gun shots. Born and raised in the Pink House section of East New York, Uncle Murda’s childhood was filled with drug dealing and violence, as the images of those slain by the hand of the streets fell to the ground before his very eyes. Despite the negativity spawned from his everyday environment, the one thing constant in Uncle Murda’s life was his tight bond with his mother, whom often times, went above and beyond to provide the very best for him and his brothers. Sadly, at the tender age of thirteen, Uncle Murda lost his greatest support system--his mother, and found himself joining the lifestyle that was all around him in order to provide for his grandmother and three younger brothers. With his fearless swagger and powerful authority over the streets, he adopted the menacing alias, “Murda,” due to his extensive criminal rap sheet; and later donning the moniker, “Uncle Murda” as he was referred to by the inner city children, to whom he would generously give money.
“I wish it could’ve been different. I wish I wasn’t born into this; because coming from where I came from, I had to do what I did to get to where I am today. When I heard the gun shots, and saw the bullets coming to my head, and the fact that I’m still here—that wasn’t nothing but God holding me down. My music is more than an ode to my past life in the streets, it’s also a reflection of my growth, and where I am today. I want my fans to get to know me as a person—in the streets, or out of the streets, I can relate. I can make you laugh, I can make you cry, I can make you dance, and my music will continue to do just that.”