Preferring to be addressed as S1, Dallas' platinum-selling producer and songwriter is also known as Larry D. Griffin Jr. or Symbolyc One. He has collaborated with the likes of Beyoncé, Jay Z and Ghostface Killah. S1 is a member of The Cannabinoids, the band that backs up Erykah Badu and holds down the best open mic night in town at The Prophet Bar on Wednesday nights.
Most notably today, though, S1 is also a two-time Grammy winner. This past Sunday he picked up his second award for his work on Eminem's 2013 album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, which took the honors in the Best Rap Album category.
"Just having that certification, it does build your status and brand," says S1 of winning a Grammy. "It's like having a crown, almost." When the award was announced on Sunday evening, S1 took to Instagram to express his gratitude. Yet he doesn't really seem interested in talking about it.
"I really don't get caught up in awards," he says, although he admits that winning a Grammy was a goal of his early in his career and that he feels blessed by the recognition. Perhaps that is in part because S1 is an extremely goal-oriented person, and when he achieves one goal his focus immediately shifts to another.
And for good reason. Shortly after the Grammys, Madonna released a second batch of songs from her upcoming Rebel Heart album and S1 suddenly had a share in the two top-selling tracks on iTunes. "For this new Madonna album that's coming on, I co-wrote six songs with her," S1 explains. Currently a member of Roc Nation on the publishing side, S1 was put in a room with Madonna and two other songwriters. The four of them cranked out nine songs and six made the final cut.
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S1 won his first Grammy in 2012 for his work on Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which also won Best Rap Album. Neither Kanye nor Eminem showed up to receive these awards. "I never thought about that," S1 says, and begins to laugh. He was actually nominated twice in that category back in 2012; the other nomination was for Watch the Throne. He has now been nominated four times, with wins and losses tied.
S1 is proudest of "Power," the song he co-wrote and co-produced for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: "That was my transition into the major music industry world. That track really put me out there, launched me into a different career platform." Kanye heard S1 while he was recording the album and promptly put him on a plane to Hawaii, where the album was being recorded. S1 worked with Kanye again many times, working in Hawaii "five or six more times," among other places. He also worked as a producer with Very G.O.O.D. Beats, the production wing of West's GOOD Music label.
As for Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the 2013 follow-up to 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP, S1 co-wrote and co-produced the album's opening track, "Bad Guy." On Sunday, S1 was in Los Angeles, working in a studio with Skylar Grey when he learned of his second Grammy win -- a slightly different scenario to his first win. "I think my wife and I were eating somewhere when we heard," he says of his first Grammy.
Dallas singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe also co-wrote and performed on "Bad Guy." S1 met Jaffe when she rehearsed with the Cannabinoids. "I was a big fan of her work," he says. "I invited her to the studio one day and we've been working together ever since." When the duo works together they refer to themselves as the Dividends. In the studio, the two work on hooks or entire songs for S1's production work, then typically work on a song for the Dividends.
S1 had worked with Eminem before when he submitted the recording that became "Bad Guy." Eminem not only liked the track, but liked Jaffe's vocals enough to keep her on it. Jaffe and S1 are still working together and there are now many songs for the Dividends. "I don't even know the number," S1 says. These songs merge Jaffe's talents as a singer-songwriter with S1's production. They have streamed a few songs online, but also plan to release something this year -- "probably an EP," says S1. S1 will know more once he sees Jaffe on Friday, where he will join her onstage at Trees as DJ for a couple songs by the Dividends.
"As far as Grammys, the next thing for me is winning in one of the major categories," S1 says. "When I reach one goal I set the next one and put the plan in place to execute that." He maintains that after winning Best Rap Album he set his sights on song or record of the year. If he does not seem particularly excited about his recent win, it's just because his goals have shifted. S1 has received certificates for his Grammy wins, but a win in a major category would get him one of those little statues. "I told myself when I'm nominated in one of the main categories I will go," he says, about attending the ceremony.
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Until that happens S1 will be in the studio during the annual ceremony, continuing to work -- just like he was on Sunday.
Sarah Jaffe performs with Sam Lao and Blue, the Misfit at 8 p.m., Friday, February 13, at Trees, 2709 Elm St., $18.
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