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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Grxwn Fxlks

Emmai Alaquiva

Grxwn Fxlks is a duo featuring emcee Masai Turner and producer Akil Esoon. Veterans of the Pittsburgh music scene, they’ve spent time in groups like Strict Flow, Beam, and Formula 412. Their song “Celebrate” is an appreciation of grown up pleasures like having healthy kids and enough money to pay the bills every month.

Masai Turner recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

This would be difficult to answer quickly, but most notably I was a member of Strict Flow, Akil was a member of Beam, and Akil and I were both members of Formula412. We’re proud of our histories with those groups and they’ve helped us mature creatively to create something special: Grxwn Fxlks.

How do you describe your sound?

This one is easy… Raw Beats, Real Rhymes.

Tell us more about the song “Celebrate.” What inspired you to write it?

The beats are always what initially inspire me. That’s why the Grxwn Fxlks creative connection is so special. The content of the lyrics was just a reminder to myself to appreciate what’s most important and stay positive. I thought that if I needed that reminder, others might too. This song was released right as the pandemic was taking hold so I think it hit home for a lot of people when things were getting real.

What was the first album that really changed your life? 

Prince "Purple Rain"

Can you talk about what it means to be a Black artist in Pittsburgh?

There’s an awesome community of black artists in Pittsburgh. Particularly when I was developing as an artist there were so many opportunities and venues to develop, experiement, improve, compete, etc. Pittsburgh has a culture, history, and future that its black artists can be proud of. The Hip-Hop community specifically is rich.

Which Pittsburgh artist(s) do you wish more people knew about?

I wouldn’t tell someone who to listen to, but I would encourage them to pay attention to what’s going on in Pittsburgh and search for something that catches their attention.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

What’s super interesting is that we’re still here, still creating, still getting better.

Learn more about Grxwn Fxlks here:


Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.