Dope Liven brings hip-hop sound to Grant Theatre
September 12, 2012 4:20PM
Members of Dope Liven are (from left) Darian “Sir English” Williams, Julian “Johnny Rotten” Reece and Jordan “J.A.G.” Gray. | Photo provided
Back in the day, as in the mid-1980s and into the ’90s, I came to know Gregory Gray, a Gary native who carved a niche as a media personality with his entertainment show “9-2-5.”
Today Gray is managing a local hip-hop group known as Dope Liven. “ ‘Dope’ in Dope Liven is the original slang we used back in the day, when saying ‘dope’ meant it was good . . . great — That show was dope!
“Dope Liven is about teenage boys having fun doing everyday things,” Gray said of the group. Dope Liven consists of Darian “Sir English” Williams, 18; Julian “Johnny Rotten” Reece, 17; and Jordan “J.A.G.” Gray, also 17. The latter is Gregory’s son.
They are students at Merrillville High School and Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, with B-average grades, and all three play sports. Reece, however, is currently living in Atlanta.
There are extended members of Dope Liven: Mike “M.I.C.” Jones, 16, who fills in for Reece, and producer Terrance “T.J.” Drayton.
“Originally I wanted to be a solo artist and T.J. was producing original music,” Williams said.
He connected with Jordan Gray and things changed.
“We wanted the same thing, to do rap, so we decided to collaborate,” Jordan continued.
His father noticed the magic right away, and seeing they were serious about it, began working with them. Since coming together in March, Dope Liven has performed at various venues, including an annual outdoor festival in Phoenix, Ill., and at Adriana’s in Chicago.
They will perform Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Grant Theatre, 3850 Grant St. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 11. Call 880-8232 for ticket information.
The group’s singles, including “Ice Cold” and “Black Out,” are available at soundcloud.com/dopeliven. When they perform they wear outfits from a new clothing line, TruLiesCo, where the motto is “Believe the Truth, Don’t Fall for the Lies.”
Gregory added that he and Dope Liven are in the process of creating scripts for television pilots. “There’s pending approval for a script,” Gregory continued. “I used some networks from my days in music and entertainment and met with representatives from Nickelodeon, showed them a short film and they liked it.”
Dope Liven also has a YouTube page with webisodes of their adventures (while funny, the webisodes contain some adult language, as do their singles) in the city.
Gregory says as their manager and father figure he teaches them the business of the industry while at the same time makes sure their grades are good.
“All families are supportive of Dope Liven. They know success is not without hard work and dedication,” he said.