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Country:United States
Releases:[Mind of a Gangster] [How Many Times (Can A Black Man Die)? (single)] [Reflections Of An Ex-Criminal] [Time we stop]
Info:Knolly Williams is born in Brooklyn, New York, but his family moved to Los Angeles, California, when he was 10 years old. His parents had separated when he was 5 years old, so he grew up with his mother and older sister Felicia. Shortly after their move to Los Angeles, Knolly's mother began taking him to church regularly, and later that year, he accepted Christ as Savior.

When he was 13 years old Knolly wanted to become a rapper. He wrote rhymes daily and performed wherever he could, becoming a local favorite in his neighbourhood. His mother supported him and purchassed two turntables, and a mixer. So Knolly studied the art of mixing, cutting and scratching, and later donned the name "Rubadub." The name 'Rubadub'", he explains, "means just that, to rub a dub. 12 inch vinyl singles are called 'dubs' and when I'm cutting and scratching, I am rubbing a Dub."

A few years later, however, Knolly began getting into trouble. By the age of 16, he was expelled from the L.A. Unified School District and arrested for drug dealing on campus, and charged with 4 felony counts. As a first time offender, he was sentenced to 6 weeks in Juvenile Hall, and two years probation.

After his release, Knolly was sent to live with his father in Xenia, Ohio. His mother hoped that his father could help straighten him out and get him on the right track. The plan failed. Within 6 months, Knolly was expelled from the Greene County School District as an "Unruly Student." Frustrated, Knolly's father shipped him back to California.

Bad habits
By now, Knolly was drinking, smoking weed, and had dropped out of school. By his 17th birthday, Knolly had moved out of the house and in with a friend.
During those dark days, he spent most of his time selling dope, smoking weed and drinking 40 oz's of ever gave up his love for hip hop music. By this time, Eazy E and N.W.A. were poppin' in the hood and Knolly began performing his own brand of hard core gangsta rap.

Pitch change
"After so many brushes with death, I guess I was just ready to give up," Knolly admits. I knew that I couldn't continue to live this fast paced life and stay alive much longer.
In 1988, Knolly renewed his commitment to the Lord, and became a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord of his life.
"After I accepted Christ, I wanted to give up doing rap music altogether," Knolly recalls. "I didn't think you could do rap music for the Lord. I guess I thought rap music was sinful and worldly. But the Lord kept putting songs in my head. Finally I began to write them down, and gradually, I began to realize that the Lord could work through rap music, using it as a tool to reach millions."

A few weeks after his conversion, he moved to Austin, Texas to work at his Uncle's Christian broadcasting company. By the age of 19, Knolly had gotten his G.E.D. and begun attending college, maintaining a 3.9 grade average on a 4.0 scale. "Financially, it was tight." Knolly remembers. "I would live on a food budget of $25 every two weeks. For meals I had very few choices: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, beans & rice, hot dogs or spaghetti. I was thin as a rail, but always in high spirits. The Lord took good care of me."

Record label
It was in 1989, at the age of 19 that Knolly decided that he wanted to have his own record company. "The Lord gave me the name 'Grapetree.'" Knolly says. "At first I didn't know what it meant, but later God revealed to me its meaning. The grapes represent peoples who are about to be destroyed (Isaiah 5:1-7, Revelation 14:17), while the trees represent the fully restored state of man˜in Christ (Psalm 1:1-3, Matthew 7:17). Our job as a label would be to take those grapes headed for destruction and plant them on the tree of life!"

In 1991 Knolly fell in love with a South Texas girl named Josie Saldana. Knolly and Josie met while attending the same church in Austin, Texas. In 1992, the two were married and later that year, Knolly began working for a Texas based law firm as a Graphic Designer. In late 1992, he got his business license and opened a bank account under the name Grapetree Records.

Grapetree Records
In late 1993, with $250 in start up capital, he quit his job at the firm, and went to work for himself full time. The label was officially active.
Combing his desktop publishing skills with his love for hip-hop, Knolly created Christian rap's first magazine, "Heaven's Hip-Hop Magazine." In 1994 the magazine was picked up for distribution by Diamante Music Group, and grew from 1,000 copies to 20,000 copies per issue.

Meanwhile, in 1993, Knolly released his first EP "Time We Stop," and the label's first album by "Rubadub" entitled "Reflections Of An Ex-Criminal."

Distributed by New Jersey based CMN Distributors in 1994, Grapetree Records began to make a little noise, with product popping up in a few select stores nationwide. As duties became overwhelming, Josie left her teaching career and began working at the label full time.

In 1995, Knolly signed his first major distribution deal with California based Diamante Music Group, and began releasing albums to a much broader market. "Man those days were rough," Williams readily admits, "I was trying something new an all Christian rap label. It was truly a pioneering move although I didn't understand it as such. I just wanted to do God's will."

Striking of the Grapetree products are the flashy looking art work and the bit cheap looking one page innersleeve design. But by 1997, the label began to really catch on, and in 1998, Knolly adopted the slogan "World's #1 Christian Rap Label," having sold well over 500,000 units, with a roster of over 20 artists it seemed as if the sky was the limit.

Grapetree Records had to restructure into GT Platinum in 2003, but it was of no avail.
Some think, if the efforts were focussed on the more talented artists the continuity of the label could have been maintained. Also the amount of activities and the available resources may have led to the label's demise. The Grapetree Music Group in the end had four sublabels, which were Grapetree Records (hip hop), GT latin (Spanish hip hop), Diamond Cut (gospel) and Phat Boy Recordings (R&B).

Some artists felt wrongly done by the label's management. But of the old roster many artists are still active. In 2005 the compilation "Where r they now" got released. Artists featured are Antonious, Bruthaz Grimm, J-Roc, LG Wise, Lil' Raskull, Mr. Real, Pooh and Prime minister.

For more information look at the label's profile.

Knolly Williams received the Ambassador Award for his contributions over the past 10 years to the Genre Of Holy Hip Hop Music And Ministry at the Holy Hip Hop awards in 2000. He is now a property broker.

Release:Mind of a Gangster
Mind of a Gangster
(what is this?) / 8 users have this
Media:[Audio CD]
Released:1996 [ Listen to HHH from this era on Spotify ]
Recordlabel:Grapetree Records
Info:1. M.O.G. Intro
2. 975 Dayz
3. You Got Tha Wrong Man
4. Play Ta Win
5. Prayin 4 U Gangstuz
6. Everybody's Down
7. Gangstas Don't Retire
8. How Many Times?
9. Flavor Uv tha Week
10. Come Together
11. Record Makin Gangsta
12. M.O.G. Outro
Rating:Our users rated this release: 10 out of 10
(Number of votes: 1)   Sign up or login to submit your vote
Reviews:Found 1 reviews for this album. [Add a review]

Release:How Many Times (Can A Black Man Die)? (single)
How Many Times (Can A Black Man Die)? (single)
(what is this?) / 2 users have this
Media:[Audio CD]
Released:1996 [ Listen to HHH from this era on Spotify ]
Recordlabel:Grapetree Records
Info:1. How Many Times (Can A Black Man Die)? - Radio Edit
2. How Many Times (Can A Black Man Die)? - Long Edit
3. Gangsta's Don't Retire
4. Play Time's Ova by Lil' Raskull - bonus Track
Rating:This release is not rated yet   Sign up or login to submit your vote
Reviews:Found 0 reviews for this album. [Add a review]

Release:Reflections Of An Ex-Criminal
Reflections Of An Ex-Criminal
(what is this?) / 8 users have this
Media:[Audio CD] [Audio Tape]
Released:1993 [ Listen to HHH from this era on Spotify ]
Recordlabel:Grapetree Records
Info:The first record from the label Grapetree Records. The music cassette version seems to have a slightly different tracklisting, than the compact disc.

1. I Used Ta Be a LOC
2. Down in tha Hood
3. Compton Drummer
4. Praise God
5. Jesus Freak
6. Down Wit Da son
7. La-La (I Love You) (bonus track)
8. Tha #1 Gangsta Rule
9. Soundz Uv Tha Ghetto
10. Big Time
11. California Bass
12. My Debut (bonus track)
13. 2 1/2 Years Ago
14. I'm Not a Gangsta
15. Time We Stop! (bonus track)

Side A
1. I Used to be a LOC
2. Down in Tha Hood
3. Compton Drummer
4. Praise God
5. Jesus Freak
6. Don Wit Da Son

Side B
1. Tha #1 Gangsta Rule
2. Soundz Uv Tha Ghetto
3. Big Time
4. California Bass
5. Jesus Freak- instrumental
6. 2 1/2 Years Ago
7. I'm Not a Gangsta
Rating:Our users rated this release: 7 out of 10
(Number of votes: 1)   Sign up or login to submit your vote
Reviews:Found 2 reviews for this album. [Add a review]

Release:Time we stop
(what is this?)
Media:[Audio CD]
Released:1993 [ Listen to HHH from this era on Spotify ]
Info:First EP from Rubadub!
Rating:This release is not rated yet   Sign up or login to submit your vote
Reviews:Found 1 reviews for this album. [Add a review]

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