By Kathy Iandoli
Skylar Grey may have evolved into a hip hop staple over the past year, but her beginnings were far from the rap realm.
In a Sucker Free exclusive, Miss Grey talks about her entry into hip hop. Prior to becoming Skylar Grey, she was Holly Brook – lending a hook to Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park’s passion project, Fort Minor. However, it was the hook she matched to Alex Da Kid’s production that brought her further into the scene.
“I knew that Eminem was the guy to keep in mind for the track,” Grey says about the development of the hit single “Love the Way You Lie”. “He had done some things with female vocalists on them in the past, so I didn’t feel that far away from my home. So that was pretty natural for me to just write a chorus like I normally would write a hook for a regular alternative pop song for myself and just let him do the verses.”
Eminem helped catapult female vocalist Dido’s career by using the opening of her song “Thank You” for his dark fanatical “Stan” off The Marshall Mathers LP. Grey donated her hook to Rihanna for “Love the Way You Lie” off Eminem’s Grammy award winning Recovery. The song itself was nominated for two Grammys this year in the Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration categories.
“People were calling me wanting more of my hooks – Dr. Dre, Lupe Fiasco, Diddy,” Skylar says following the success of “Love the Way You Lie”. “I came from such an eclectic background of music and hip hop wasn’t really a part of that.”
The artist – whose mother was a Celtic harpist, father was in a barbershop quartet, great grandma was an opera singer and great uncle was in a 32-piece one-man band – had a very musical history. “It’s a very wide spectrum of things, but hip hop was never one of them,” the siren explains. Now she’s everywhere, on Lupe Fiasco’s number one album Lasers on the track “Words I Never Said”, and along with Diddy-Dirty Money on “Coming Home” from the album Last Train To Paris. “I did buy one Eminem album when I was growing up,” Grey admits. “That was the only rap album I ever bought.”
These days Skylar Grey is getting meetings with Dr. Dre, who most rappers dream of working with and who Skylar refers to as “laid back and chill”.
“The first thing he said to me, I’ll never forget,” Grey recalls of Dre. “He said, ‘You’re a superstar. It’s in your aura.’”