During the first half decade that this site existed, I got the privilege to travel around the country to see different acts operate in one singular environment. One of those guys, Jon Hope arrived to Atlanta, GA with a Rhode Island collective that included Roger, all in search of stardom and the right look. Hope performed on the DJ Booth showcase that Saturday afternoon, our conversation a brief one of congratulations and acknowledgment. That was 2011, the first year I had gone to A3C and the first year I had come away looking forward to what’s next from artists I had previously only known via message boards, Twitter and the blog sites I visited while I was working on my own site.

A year later, Jon Hope pops up on BET, premiering his “Rhode Less Traveled” video as a big moment not just for Providence but Rhode Island’s entire scene. Two months later his Work In Progress tape arrived. Like most, I penciled in Jon Hope as one of the guys to hold court for the next few years while a label deal and a ton of other shiny things came his way. Then, they didn’t. Then, Jon Hope disappeared.

What I had gathered, Jon Hope had to go find Harrison Grigsby, the name and person he was born into almost three decades ago and the search led from depression to discovering his roots. He went back to school, got a Master’s Degree and went through the same kind of depression I had gone through some years prior. Same scenario, only mind was more destructive, which eventually led to the creation of this website somehow. Jon Hope is Harrison Grigsby, there’s no separating the two individuals and you hear it in broad strokes on A Guy Named Harry.

Thirteen tracks is a long welcome back for Hope as he discusses the times he caught multiple buses to get where he needed to go, how his mind raced and body crumbled when he found out a DNA test determined he wasn’t the father of a son. “F.I.S.H. & Coffee Milk” details him sleeping at friend houses, scrapping all of what he had in his pocket just to buy shoes and deal with his surroundings. “Fuck it, shit happens,” he chants on the chorus while almost pulling himself to tears. “I don’t need you no more, lil n*gga,” he raps before launching into an a capella that discusses how he refuses the real hip-hop label since even Nas has “U Owe Me” on his resume.

A Guy Named Harry is about Rhode Island, the area that Jon Hope grew up around where he stares at gangs, violence, his own self-doubt and more. “Channel 6 and 7, 8 of my n*ggas gone, 9 times out of 10, 11-year-olds hear eulogies performed,” he raps on “Camp St. & Comstock. “… I’m not ashamed of my home, although a lot of suckers in my home, they must go.” The large bulk of the mixtape flows and revolves around Hope’s own personal growth. As a rapper, he has a much stronger command of his voice and his presence is a large harbinger of faith and patience. It took him fighting depression to get there and ultimately win. “I beat those odds that they gave to me,” Hope raps on “GMBLN MAN” where he sings and is joyous about what he’s gotten through.

Stream A Guy Named Harry from Jon Hope below. It’s for the best when you see people who may not be considered best friends but long distances acquaintances get back to loving their dreams. Makes you look inward in regards to what you’ve gotten through in your own right.