Touch of Grey

Cleveland rapper Bravo mixes things up on a new album

Don't believe the hype. Rapper Bravo knows this all too well. A decade ago, when his former hip-hop group GI Joez was named one of The Source's Unsigned Hypes, the accolades went to some members' heads. "We had no mentor, no guidance, no manager," he says. "Once we got in the magazine, some of the group members started thinking we actually got a deal. Things just went awry. There were nine of us, so with that many personalities it was always difficult." After GI Joez broke up, Bravo moved to Florida, where he earned a degree in audio engineering. He returned to Cleveland a year later, then to Los Angeles in 2005.

Bravo returned to Cleveland for good three years ago, partly because he wanted to be closer to his daughter. But he also hired a manager and started releasing singles and showing up on local mixtapes. He put out a solo album, Grey Area, last summer and established himself as one of the city's most eclectic hip-hop artists, working both Notorious B.I.G.'s tough gangsta rap and Usher's sweet R&B into his songs. "That was the whole concept behind the album: the grey area isn't defined," he says. "I'm not just one type of artist. I listen to all different types of people. I listen to Prince, I listen to Coldplay."

Bravo's new album will be released at the end of summer, and he's all about spreading the word about hometown hip-hop. "Cleveland has a lot of potential right now," he says. "A lot of people leave home and then they never come back. But right now Cleveland is a good place to be." Bravo performs at 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the Summer Jam at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets range from $45 to $60 and are available at

The Capgun Cowboys were one of the city's most active rockabilly bands a few years ago. After members began moving out of town, the group broke up. They're reuniting for a show at the Beachland Tavern on Friday. It starts at 8:30 p.m. with openers Kim Lenz & the Jaguars. Tickets are $10, available at

Blackout Superstar — a new hard-rock band featuring members of Erase the Grey, Rikets, Shenoah, Gatlin, Burning Vegas, and Ventana — will release their debut album, Whiskey Weekend, this week. They also kick off a tour in Pittsburgh that will bring them to Roc Bar on August 20 for the official CD-release show. You can find more info at

Earlier this year, promoter Mai Moore put together the Once Again concert featuring musicians who graduated from Cleveland Heights High School. It was such a success that she's organized another showcase for the Grog Shop on Friday. This one includes hip-hop artists Early da Chief, Jay Floyd, and the Brovament. R&B singers Antoine Dunn, Stacia Rhodes, and Kellen Walker are also performing. Electropop band Chop Chop round out the bill. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 in advance, available at