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New Kensington rapper's 'Johnny' speaks of need to leave gangster life

| Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Rapper Joshua 'T-Grizz' Broadnax in his New Kensington home on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Joshua 'T-Grizz' Broadnax holds his 2013 Hip Hop Single award from the Pittsburgh Underground Music Awards in his New Kensington home on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Joshua 'T-Grizz' Broadnax's 2013 Hip Hop Single award from the Pittsburgh Underground Music Awards. Photographed in his New Kensington home on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

The song “Johnny,” a rap piece full of offensive language and expletives, is not what it appears to be, says New Kensington rapper Joshua Broadnax, otherwise known as “T-Grizz.”

Just listen closely to the lyrics, he says, which tell a story about the misery a young man faces in the gangster lifestyle he wants to leave, because he now has a child and wants to change.

Broadnax chose the wording of the self-penned song — which won in the hip-hop single category in the Pittsburgh Underground Music Awards, held in Penn Hills this summer — in order to speak to rap fans in their usual language, he says.

“I wanted people to feel it — to really feel it, and to really know where I was coming from with it,” says Broadnax, 28. A 2004 graduate of Valley High School in New Kensington, he played football during sophomore and junior year, when he attended the alternative school Summit Academy. “When you listen to it, you'll really get the grasp of it.”

Broadnax — who works in construction during the summer, but otherwise spends all of his professional time on his music — plans to write a sequel to the song about how the character makes the change into a new life. The new song won't sound the same and will have a different background tune, he says.

Broadnax performs at some local venues, including Big Dogs in Cheswick.

His first album — “For the Women” — was self-penned and produced without a record label, which he hopes to get in the future. Broadnax describes his album as pro-female, because rap lyrics often demean women.

“Johnny” fulfills this theme, he says, with its mention of how the character is wrongly trying to get his ex-girlfriend to help him. Some underground radio stations played the song, which has almost 4,000 hits on its YouTube video.

“I wanted to do something different,” says Broadnax, the father of four: Jae-lemar, 8; Tiawna, 8; Aysia, 7; and Cloniann, 1.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7824 or kgormly@tribweb.com.

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