Humans of UK: Thoughts from August Grantt’s dorm room


August Grantt poses for a portrait on Monday, Feb 7, 2022 at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Kaitlyn Skaggs | Staff

Sarah Michels

When August Grantt found out his idol Mac Miller died from an accidental fentanyl overdose, he was high on the same drug that Miller mistakenly believed he was using.

It was one of many signs to stop. If Miller wasn’t invincible, neither was Grantt.

Nearly four years later, Grantt is an up-and-coming rapper trying to make music that connects with listeners in many of the same ways Miller’s does for him. He’s also a UK senior and psychology major who goes by Austin Woods in his day-to-day life.

Grantt takes signs seriously. When “August” by Flipturn came on as Grantt was deciding whether to pursue music, he knew something in the universe was telling him to go for it. Since he didn’t want to make music under his real name, and August was close enough to Austin, he adopted the name from the song.

The “Grantt” also comes from a sign. Since Grantt was born on Feb. 2, 2000, which contains the angel number 222, he incorporates twos into many parts of his life, from the two “t”s at the end of his stage name to the date his debut album dropped — June 22, 2021.

From ages 17 to 19, Grantt was involved with hard drugs, but they aren’t a part of his life anymore. He got tired of the negativity, he said, and he didn’t want to become “a forgotten overdose stat.”

While he doesn’t see himself as a role model, Grantt said he does want to be a positive example of someone who let themselves fall into addiction but eventually got out.

“I didn’t really enjoy that part of my life, but I still rap about it,” Grantt said. “I just want to work hard, and then be like, you can look at me and still be proud, even though I’m not this perfect, cookie cutter person.”

Grantt was sitting in his dorm room, trying to write a song called “Thoughts from my Dorm Room,” modeled after Miller’s “Thoughts from my Balcony,” when he decided to go all in on music. He called every studio in Lexington, asking to be an intern so he could be shown the ropes. They all said no, but Ekaman, an entertainer and event planner, called Grantt back to invite him to a show he was co-hosting at The Fishtank.

At the show, Grantt showed the audio engineer lyrics he’d written in his Notes app. The engineer took Grantt’s phone to show them to Ekaman.

“[Ekaman’s] reading the lyrics and he’s like, ‘You wrote this?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah,’” Grantt said. “He’s like, ‘You never recorded before?’ I said no, and then he was like, ‘You’re gonna.’”

And he did. Grantt shadowed Ekaman at his studio to learn about mixing and recording music, and after COVID shut that down, he worked until he could afford his own recording equipment. He put out upwards of 30 songs on SoundCloud from his LEX apartment’s walk-in-closet, but he eventually realized he wanted to focus on concepts, not singles, and see if he could create a fluid album.

That album — “Disoriented Wonderland” — came out last summer and is intended to sound like the feeling of being lost in one’s head. Last week, on the eve of his birthday, Grantt performed part of it with a live audience for the first time.

“There’s a huge difference between seeing numbers on your screen next to your name, and then seeing people you don’t know come from the back of the room to come up to you and start vibing with your music,” Grantt said. “There’s no drug that could get me higher than that.”

Grantt said he’s already ready for his second, third and 50th performances. He’s got several months’ worth of unreleased music prepped and continues to write verses daily. He’s also getting better at “painting emotion” with his music, he said. But he doesn’t want to get caught up in attention or feedback, positive or negative. His goal isn’t to appeal to the masses, but rather to make art for the 50 or 50,000 people that happen to relate to him.

“I don’t like to think about the future,” Grantt said. “You think about like, ‘Oh it’d be great to be a famous rapper or something.’ Sure, but I can almost guarantee you on the way to that point is probably just as fun, if not more fun, than that point itself. So, I don’t really want to get lost in where I could go. I’d rather just get lost in where I’m at.”