Backstage at Baltimore Soundstage, Kevin Grant couldn’t stop thinking about what he was about to do.
He shouldn’t have been nervous. It wasn’t his first time performing for a crowd.
In 2012, the Kennard-Dale High School graduate – who goes by the stage name Wish Granted – successfully opened for Kid Ink at the same venue. So opening for Audio Push and Snow tha Product three years later should have been a piece of cake.
But if he went through with his plan to bring out the saxophone during his set, he’d be taking a risk.
The hip hop fans in the audience didn’t come to see a jazz saxophone solo. They came to see some good rap music, Grant said.
However, if he wanted to set himself apart from the other rappers on the bill that night, the saxophone was the way to do it.
So, he did.
“They (went) crazy when I started playing the sax because it’s something they didn’t expect,” Grant said. “I was taking pictures with everybody. I signed a couple autographs. I felt really good after that. I took a chance on that one. Now, I’m running with it.”
Now, four months later, Grant, 24, will bring his jazzy hip hop style back to the same stage Dec. 5.
This time, he’ll be opening for Curren$y, a New Orleans rapper who was one of the original members of the Young Money Entertainment label founded by Lil Wayne.
Since he started doing hip hop about four years ago, Grant has written and recorded dozens of songs and released a mixtape called “Wish Granted First Wish.”
His most recent single “The Juice” is a party track, but it still incorporates the saxophone and represents his main message: “to inspire the guy who has a dream but is afraid to do it because he's afraid he might fail.”
About five years ago, Grant was that guy. As a high school student, he said he never considered pursuing hip hop. He was too busy playing saxophone and performing in jazz band, choir and orchestra.
“Anything that involved music, I was involved in it,” he said.
It wasn’t until he graduated and joined the Air Force that he realized he might have a shot at hip hop.
During basic training, Grant and his buddies spent a lot of their free time rapping.
“Somebody would make a beat on the locker or something like that … and a group of guys come together and rap,” he said.
“When I would be a part of that, I’d be really good.”
At least that’s what his friends told him. And they encouraged him to pursue hip hop when he returned home to Baltimore in 2010.
“At first, I was afraid to be a rapper because I didn’t know if it would work,” he said. “But you just go and try.”
Within a year, he had booked his first show, and now he continues to perform at area venues about once a month.
At his Dec. 5 show, Grant said the crowd can definitely expect to hear the saxophone.
“Other than that, it’ll be great hip hop, great show, great entertainment, a lot of crowd participation,” he said.
Grant also plans to release another mixtape with a much larger jazz saxophone and piano presence in March 2016.
“My goal is to be the best I literally can be … and inspire the next guy that will do anything great. I want to inspire the world,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m doing this for everybody.”
IF YOU GO
What: Wish Granted and Curren$y
When: Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5
Where: Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, Baltimore, Md.
Cost: $27.50 in advance, $32.50 day of show
More info: Visit baltimoresoundstage.com.
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