September 29, 2011

Food Interview Series #2: The Hip Hop Chocolatier

Some people may know Marcus Grey from his work in television production and the Hollywood industry. Others know him as a student of religion, taking time to understand various traditions and attitudes that have shaped our history for centuries. And a small growing few have come to know him as the hip hop chocolatier.

Marcus came into the chocolate making industry by chance, or as he might say, “it was serendipitous.” He had been studying religion in school and was taken with the idea that you could infuse anything with meaning to create a personal meaning.  Just as the hip hop world uses music, fashion, and design to convey a feeling or a message, so too can food.

When asked how the idea of combining his religious studies with hip hop in the form of a chocolate came about, Marcus had this to say: “I remember reading that the sun gives birth to everything on earth. In indigenous cultures, they recognized that the sun was what was feeding their crops, that’s why they respected the land so much. Certain crops weren’t just staples of their cultures, they were also revered, like corn and even chocolate. They recognized it as a gift from the earth and when they took it into their bodies, there would be this appreciation. That’s where praying before meals comes from, the appreciation for food.

“For me, after September 11th, I wanted to take a symbol of terrorism, which became the box cutter, and kinda neutralize it. A cultural way of rebranding the box cutter and making it edible so it wouldn’t be so terrifying. So I made a chocolate box cutter.”

The idea took off from there. After showing his creation to a couple friends, the chocolate box cutter got featured in a play where the actor was seen eating the box cutter while portraying one of the terrorists from a plane that hit the World Trade Center.

Marcus was inspired and elated that his message was being heard. He started thinking of other symbols he could infuse with meaning. Hip hop came as a natural avenue because of the way it had impacted his life. He had grown up break dancing and listening to hip hop. His studies of religion led him to see that culture differently. He saw graffiti as ancient calligraphy and political protests, the music as an expression of a cultural time from the perspective of the struggling and underprivileged, and had even seen instances where b-boys had had religious experiences that determined their continuation within that realm. “Hip hop to me is contemporary art,” says Marcus. He sees chocolate as his contribution to that movement.

He is currently en route to Europe where he will spend 49 days forming a base from which he can expand as the Original Hip Hop Chocolatier. A book is also in the works entitled, “The Psychics of Hip Hop” which will compare the similarities and differences of the hip hop world with the various religions and mythologies of the world.

Favorite quote: “Culture is more than what you wear, it also wears you.”

Favorite place to eat in LA:  Rahel Ethiopian on Fairfax

Recipe: Life: 1 part experimentation, 2 parts critical thinking, 3 parts learning to trust yourself, and 4 parts sincerity

Chocolates range from $5-$25 apiece and are delicious!

Order yours at!

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