To hear his music, you wouldn’t know that he was different than any other up-and-comers posting tracks to YouTube and SoundCloud. But Jeff Metz, who goes by the stage name Grimstyles, is not your average artist.
Although he loves rap music, his main reason for writing songs is to make a positive difference in the world, despite life’s challenges.
“I started writing songs and rapping in 2004,” said Metz. “But I didn’t actually record a song until 2010. (We were working out of) some guy’s living room on a program called Logic Pro.”
He spent two years recording before releasing his first song in March 2012 on his YouTube channel.
While his musical influences might seem obvious – Kanye West and Eminem – he likes them for their writing style and the fact that they think outside the box.
“Kanye is a big one, because ever since he started becoming big musically, he always walked to the beat of his own drum,” said Metz. “Eminem as well. He had some very interpersonal lyrics in his music in the late ’90s and early 2000s. I like to tell stories, whether it’s my own or another person’s. (I want the listener to be able to) close their eyes, listen to the song and envision themselves in the story.”
Part of his own story includes living with cerebral palsy. Some days, just feeling accepted by others can be a challenge.
“Because there’s not very many people like me and cerebral palsy is still a relatively taboo thing to talk about, people will still look at me awkwardly,” said Metz. “When I started rapping and everything, I noticed that there were no mainstream, well-known rappers that had cerebral palsy like I do. Someone’s gotta be the first one, so why not me?”
Outside of music, he said his biggest influence is his grandmother, who immigrated to America from Mexico City and raised five daughters on her own.
Growing up, music was an outlet that helped him cope with bullying. Since that was before YouTube and SoundCloud existed, he listened to whatever was on the radio, until an older friend turned him onto rap, altering his musical trajectory.
“What makes me different from other rappers is my lyricism, my storytelling and my authenticity,” said Metz. “I don’t curse in my music because I want to create a family friendly experience that everyone can enjoy. When I write a song, I want someone to feel inspired or uplifted, like they can make a difference in the world.”
If he could collaborate with any other musician, he said he would choose Kanye or Prince.
“Those two musicians (have) always thought outside the box,” he said. “So I think (their) production behind my lyrics would make for a very interesting song.”
His favorite song he’s written so far is “Life is Good,” which exemplifies his attitude about life.
“My advice to anyone thinking about pursuing a career in music is to go for it and enjoy it,” said Metz. “It’s a marathon not a sprint.” ￼