Gregory Grey is The Illimunati Princess and The Illuminati Princess is Gregory Grey. Inseparable from one another, Grey is seeking to make a name for himself in the hip-hop game on his own terms. Grey spoke with David Atlanta and shared his aversion to mainstream success, his wide range of influences and why wearing dresses and stripper shoes doesn’t make him less of a man. Welcome to the world of The Illuminati Princess.
Tell us a little bit about the Illuminati Princess. Is this a persona or how you live your life?
When I started recording hip-hop music, I never set out to be liked, or even accepted by mainstream critics. The Hip hop industry takes any reference to the Illuminati SO seriously, and because I have grown up pushing every boundary that has been set around me, I already expected to encounter a lot of negativity simply for being a GAY WHITE RAPPER from Tennessee. I thought to myself ‘why not take it a step further’.
I think that especially in regards to the Illuminati, nobody will ever know the truth. It’s a society that has lived only in the shadows. It intrigues me that people will assign their own meaning or truth to something they don’t understand. Another reason that I chose to “become” The Illuminati Princess is because I think that gender roles are utter bullshit. I like wearing dresses, stripper shoes, and luxurious wigs. That doesn’t make me less of a man…that just makes me an anomaly to people…which I think excites me. It’s nearly impossible to separate The Illuminati Princess from the Gregory Grey in real life, it’s an extension of me, it’s not all wiped off with the makeup.
You grew up in Tennessee, not necessarily known for its hip-hop roots. How did you get involved in performing hip-hop?
I grew up around the entertainment industry and had an all access pass to everything that I wanted to see. My musical taste has always been all over the place. There is such a freedom that comes with hip-hop. I gravitated to recording hip-hop because out of all genres, I feel that it can be the most abstract.
You’ve released two singles “Stay on my Grind” and “Bow Down,” what are you up to currently? An album?
I kind of did things completely backwards. With “Bow Down” I recorded that particular song in a day, and released it simply to show people how serious I was about The Illuminati Princess. About a week later, I had an opportunity to create a music video. This was a lot of fun and extremely different than anything that I have ever done creatively. With “Stay on My Grind’ however, I went into the studio, with just the chorus, it was stuck in my head and I had to get it out. I then wrote everything else around it, and again, I got to record another video a couple weeks later. NOW, I am resting from all of that madness, and focusing on a 8 track EP which currently has the working title Less Human, More Being, which I will have out this year.
Who has influenced The Illuminati Princess (past and present)?
There are 4 artists who, I believe, molded me into what you see today. Those artists are The Spice Girls, Marilyn Manson, Lil Kim, and Hole. I have always had this utter adoration for any artist who shakes up the industry and plays by their own rules. I think in this day and age, that’s exactly what you have to do, if you want to stay true to who you are as an artist.
Is mainstream success a goal for The Illuminati Princess?
NEVER. If I had a chance to sign with a major label, and there was a list of stipulations of what I am or am not allowed to do, say, wear etc. I would light the contract on fire and tell them to fuck off. I will never let my creativity be censored by the suits. I will say that ultimately, I want to inspire my audience to never let someone make them feel that they aren’t good enough or that there’s something that they can’t do, for whatever reason. I hope to help bring a newfound confidence to my followers. Confidence is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. With it, there’s nothing that can stop you!
In a genre that has been blasted as anti-gay and even anti-woman, what’s it like being an out hip-hop artist?
I’ve definitely encountered a lot of obstacles so far. I have recording studios and producers who refuse to work with me because of how OUT THERE I appear to be. I expected this. I think that everything happens for a reason, and the right people will appear and help see this vision that I have out.
Is there danger is being labeled an out hip-hop artist? In other words do you feel there are some who don’t take your music seriously because you’re out?
Sure! You have these artists such as Jeffree Star or Cazwell, who have built their career based soley on their sexuality or larger than life “personality” which is all bullshit. In some instances, it makes it difficult to be taken seriously. However, at the end of the day, I try to not worry about any of that surface stuff. I think that when people hear my music, and see how dedicated I am to bringing them the best product that I can, they will recognize the passion and honesty behind it all, which is so important.
Do artists like Jay-Z who has come out in support of marriage equality and the recent coming out of Frank Ocean make things better?
It’s such a huge step in the right direction. I think the industry is warming up to the idea of artists like me. Which gives me, and a lot of other young artists hope!
After watching the 2006 documentary Pick up the Mic there is a distinction between those who want to be known for more than their sexuality, do you think the two are inextricably linked?
I talked about a few artists earlier who would rather be known solely for their sexuality, but this is my opinion. I don’t see anything wrong with a gay artist being sexually explicit…if that’s how they choose to market themselves. Sexuality exists in all form of nature. I just think that you should have something more to offer your audience than that. As a consumer myself, I crave substance. I get bored with all of the “fluff”.
Any plans to perform in Atlanta?
After I release my EP, I plan on doing a 3-4 week tour, where I will play every major city! Stay Tuned!
What should people expect from an Illuminati Princess show?
I’m sure if you have followed my music, or seen my imagery, you know that I am obsessed with the visual aspect of everything. At the moment, I am completely taken with Grindhouse films. I want my show to feel very voyeuristic, raw, and gritty. BELIEVE that I will have some great costumes. I’ve already started designing and approving all of that. I guarantee that everyone who comes out will have a fucking great time!
You can follow The Illuminati Princess on Twitter and Facebook below.