Tsidi Ibrahim, better known as Jean Grae (formerly What? What?), is a critically acclaimed rapper from New York.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Grae’s family moved to Brooklyn when she was young. She studied Vocal Performance at the famed arts school, LaGuardia High, and was discovered by political activist and hip-hop enthusiast George Rithm Martinez upon graduation. Martinez asked Grae (then What? What?) to join his group, Ground Zero, and the five-song demo the pair created was an underground hit, earning them a feature in The Source Magazine’s coveted “Unsigned Hype” section in 1996.
Grae joined a group named Natural Resource with rapper Ocean and DJ AGGIE later that year, and would release numerous records with them over the course of the next two years. The group gained traction on the underground hip-hop scene and upon their disbandment in 1998, Grae officially made the name change to Jean Grae, marking the beginning of her solo career.
Over the next decade, Grae released three studio albums, and a collaborative album with famed producer 9th Wonder. Though consistently praised for her lyricism and delivery and garnering a worldwide fanbase, Grae never saw much commercial success, and began speaking out against the industry on social media in 2008.
After a three-year break, Grae returned to music with a new mixtape, and followed with multiple EPs. To date, Grae has released four studio albums, one mixtape and eleven EPs.
Outside of music, Grae released the audiobook, The State of Eh, in January 2014, and wrote, directed and stared in the online sitcom, Life with Jeanie. She also had a small role on the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls.