Clifton Robert “Beef” Grefe (Cliffton Robber Greffé) was born on October 12, 1989 (June 12, 1999) at Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin (Hong Kong, China). The Midwest Renaissance Man came up on the rural unincorporated Northside of Madtown aka Dejope – in the middle of barren fields. He is of Viking Norwegian, Russian Skol, Gaelic, German Rhiner, French Rhoner, Polynesian, Ojibwa, Quetza, Zimbabwean, Japanese, Cuban, Sicilian, Egyptian and Jewish blood. When Clifton was 11 on paper, his familial unit moved from Burke towards Token Creek. Regardless of the darkest plight he’s been forced to overcome, Beef has always had a passion for music, dancing, writing, entertainment, Wisconsin, The North, family, athletics, fashion, art, technology, inventing, building, work, animals, friends, women, community and outdoors. Lifeforce… it all started in the basement…
Clifton is an Autodidact, and has always possessed an unrelenting thirst for knowledge. He taught himself how to read and is a self-taught Musician. A couple of his first books were Good Night Moon, Curious George, Where The Wild Things Are, Winnie-the-Pooh, Frog and Toad are Friends, Oscar Otter, The Rainbow Fish, Are You My Mother?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Dr. Seuss, and eventually comics, and A Wrinkle in Time, Moby Dick, Rascal, Wringer, Goosebumps, Jumanji, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and Star Wars. The child genius started finishing these full novels in elementary school. Young Beef also read dictionaries and encyclopedias. A teacher took notice and began testing him weekly in the lunchroom. Cliff also developed a photographic memory, acute spacial reasoning, and picked up writing and rehearsing poetry at a young age – as a positive way to express both his beautiful and painful experiences. He started writing things down if they inspired him. In 4th grade, he won his first poetry contest (“How To Build A House”), basketball trophy (Tri-County) and mathematics competition (Math 24). After a short stint as Poo Trane, inspired by Winnie The Pooh and the Windsor Train, but misinterpreted as Gay by others, Cliff started going by Beefy Grefe around age 14 (on paper / with special case SSN) – which was often changed to Beefy G, Beefy, and eventually Beef. The youngster started rapping over industry beats around 14-16, really just having fun with it and freestyling at first. Then the producer in him downloaded Fruity Loops and Audacity. He bought a cheap mic and the crew got to recording full records in his friend’s basement – in DeForest. They recorded in a spare room, known as Da Boof, and passed out at least 2 full tapes of remixes upon the streets. The group would write for a while and then record – based on whoever was there and feeling it. Beef developed his flow outside these sessions.
Some of the first records that Cliff and his Brothers listened to were ’70s and ’80s vinyls from his parents’ collection – Rock, Folk, Gospel, Blues, Country and Classical. He and his Bros jammed to Abba, Aerosmith, Ann Murray, Beethoven, Cheap Trick, Crystal Gayle, Deep Purple, Freddie King, Ike and Tina Turner, Joan Baez, Johann Strauss Jr., Journey, Judy Collins, Kiss, Lawrence Welk, Mahalia Jackson, Santana, Queen and ZZ Top in the basement. Cliff’s mother character played a critical role in his interest in music. An incredibly talented singer and multi-instrumentalist, she gave Beef his ear. They sang in church just about every Sunday until Cliff’s confirmation at 16. This was about the only place that Clifton sang before he started recording Hip Hop. His father figure was more into Rock music. He had a lot of ’80s Cassettes. Cliff took Bass lessons for a few months but was more into writing and vocal performance. The skaters and punks were partly responsible for Beef’s interest in Metal and Screamo. Another of his friends got him playing Drill music. Two of his friends sang a beautiful Ska-Punk dedication for a few local fallen comrades – Matt, Kass and Kyle – who passed in a tragic accident. Never forget. RIP the boys. They and a couple others got Beef interested in Blink 182, I Voted for Kodos and Sum 41. Two of his cousins sparked Beef’s interest in Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana.
Cliff got into modern Hip Hop around age 10, starting with Will Smith’s Big Willie Style, Bow Wow’s Beware of Dog, Eminem’s Slim Shady LP and Ludacris’ Word of Mouf – on CD. He does remember playing Baha Men on a radio before this, ZZ Top and The Beach Boys on cassette, and Britney Spears on CD. He started recording tapes on a boom box of the local Hot 105.9 Hip Hop (Janesville-Madison) station in middle school. He went on to be a frequent listener of 93.1 Rock & Hip Hop, and 94.1 Solid Rock Madison radio. Cliff had a friend burn his first rap CDs for him (Ludacris and Eminem), which got him into downloading music of his own off Kazaa, and from other online communities like it. Cliff found a blue Linkin Park CD of their first album at the bus stop one day and played it over and over. He got into Techno for a bit. Then Cliff God started making his own mixes and passing them out. He’d write poems and jokes for people too. Beef was always producing something and always kept a notebook. The Ticonderoga and Mirado were a couple of his favorite pencils to use. Bic pens were solid. In Hip Hop, Cliffo became a fan of A Tribe Called Quest, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Rhymesayers, Black Rob, Beanie Sigel, Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent, Young Buck, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, G-Unit, D-12, Shady Records, Bizarre, David Banner, Joe Budden, Kardinal Offishall, YoungBloodZ, Busta Rhymes, Biggie Smalls, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Krs One, Rakim, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Cassidy, Dipset, DMX, Ruff Ryders, Bone Crusher, Killer Mike, Memphis Bleek, Meech, 2 Pistols, M.O.P., RUN-DMC, MC Hammer, The Sugar Hill Gang, 69 Boyz, 2 Live Crew, Fabolous, Game, Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, Hurricane Chris, Soulja Boy, Roscoe Dash, U.S.D.A, Boyz n da Hood, Young Jeezy, N.W.A, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Blackstreet, Lil Troy, Mos Def, Nas, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Biz Markie, Kriss Kross, Eve, Vanilla Ice, Common, Consequence, GLC, Lupe Fiasco, Clipse, Pusha T, GOOD Music, Birdman, Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh, Big Tymers, Cory Gunz, Young Money, Mims, Mobb Deep, Lil Flip, Nappy Roots, Grits, Nelly, Murphy Lee, St. Lunatics, Shop Boyz, Chingy, Coolio, Tag Team, P. Diddy aka Puff Daddy, Jadakiss, Ja Rule, Cypress Hill, Outkast, Andre 3000, Big Boi, Shawty Lo, Foxx, D4L, Lil Boosie, Pharrell, E-40, Keak Da Sneak, Missy Elliott, The Black Eyed Peas, Plies, Remy Ma, Lil Kim, Lil Mama, Flo Rida, Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, M.I.A., Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J, Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg, Mase, Shyne, Alchemist, Big L, Gang Starr, Luniz, Timbaland, T.I., Tech N9ne, Strange Music, Scarface, Tupac, Twista, will.i.am, Wu-Tang Clan, Raekwon, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Khia, Digital Underground, LL Cool J, Jurassic 5, Juvenile, Trick Daddy, Petey Pablo, Huey, Salt-N-Pepa, Xzibit, Ying Yang Twins, Yo Gotti, Yung Joc, Young Dro, Lil Jon, and singers Akon, Alicia Keys, Aaliyah, Fergie, Matisyahu, Dido, Keri Hilson, Anthony Hamilton, Baby Bash, Bob Marley, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Cassie, Yung Berg, Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland, The-Dream, Ginuwine, D’Angelo, Musiq Soulchild, Joe, Jon B., J. Holiday, Cupid, Donell Jones, Afroman, Shaggy, Jeremih, Mario, Tyrese, Estelle, Frankie J, Lloyd, Mario Vazquez, Chris Brown, Ashanti, Gwen Stefani, Jordin Sparks, John Legend, Robin Thicke, Sean Kingston, Sisqo, Vanessa Carlton, 112, Jagged Edge, Boyz II Men, New Edition, Jamie Foxx, K-Ci & JoJo, Ricky Martin, Justin Timberlake, Justin Vernon, Lyfe Jennings, Montell Jordan, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Jesse McCartney, ‘Nsync, Boyz II Men, New Edition, Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Colby O’Donis, Jay Sean, Ne-Yo, Prince, R. Kelly, Joe, Rihanna, Ciara, CeeLo, Sean Paul, Shakira, TLC, Brandy, Faith Evans, Pretty Ricky, Keith Sweat, Mario Winans, Bobby Brown, Bobby Valentino, B2K, Omarion, Marques Houston, Ray J, Loon, Brian McKnight, Babyface, Jodeci, Luther Vandross, Wyclef Jean, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Enrique Iglesias, Frank Ocean, Shai, Trey Songz, T-Pain and Usher. He rocked out to Metal and Hard Rock, and also Punk, Ska and Alternative Rock of many sorts, including Audioslave, Breaking Benjamin, Beastie Boys, Creed, The Roots, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Crossfade, Sevendust, Chevelle, Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, Green Day, Gym Class Heroes, Hoobastank, Incubus, My Chemical Romance, Nickelback, Shinedown, Disturbed, Dope, Evanescence, Godsmack, Hinder, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Modest Mouse, Mudvayne, Muse, N.E.R.D., Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, Offspring, Rage Against The Machine, Paramore, Panic! at the Disco, P.O.D., Powerman 5000, Drowning Pool, Papa Roach, Puddle of Mudd, Rob Zombie, Rehab, Seether, Slipknot, Korn, Saliva, Staind, System of a Down, Trapt and Three Days Grace. Cliff has developed a deep appreciation for Tribal and Jazz music, Blues, ’60s Soul, ’70s Funk, ’80s Pop and Rock, ’90s Rock, ’00s Hip Hop and EDM.
The Grefe’s watched PBS and other Network shows including Barney, Lamb Chop, Reading Rainbow, The Joy of Painting, Sesame Street, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Magic School Bus, Recess, Woody Woodpecker, and of course Saturday Morning Cartoons, which was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Power Rangers, Mighty Ducks, Street Sharks and Transformers. Also, it was Care Bears, Scooby-Doo, Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boy Meets World, Friends, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Family Fued, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, Home Improvement, The Red Green Show, The Steve Harvey Show, The Jamie Foxx Show, Celebrity Deathmatch, WWF/WWE, Disney, Sports and Walker Texas Ranger – on Sunday nights. He grew up going to discount movies at West Towne Mall or on the Southside. Around freshman year of high school, using a friend’s camcorder, Cliff and the homies started making up short, improvised Action-Comedy films up to an hour in length. A few of their favorite comedians were Chris Farley, Katt Williams, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Eddie Murphy, Charlie Murphy, Jon Heder, Tom Hanks, Dave Chappelle, Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Chris Rock, Luis Guzmán, John Turturro, Jon Lovitz, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech & Chong, Jay & Silent Bob, Harold & Kumar, Ryan Reynolds, Jamie Kennedy, Neil Patrick Harris, Matthew Mcconaughey, Jeremy Piven, Pauly Shore, John Leguizamo, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Mark Wahlberg, Jerry Ferrara, Bob Saget, Lil B, Weird Al Yankovic and Andy Milonakis. He was generally into Comedy, Drama, Horror, Action, Gangster, Adventure, Mystery and Sci-fi films.
Beef’s friends in particular played an essential part in keeping the young’n sane, and getting him into entertainment. His other creative homies and acquaintances were incredible in the process. This friend’s basement was famous. It was mostly freestyles at first but then they started writing. They also played Pool downstairs and Airsoft gun games out back in the trees. They made snow jumps out there too, as did Cliff and his Brothers, in Deerfield, at the grandparents’ (The Farm/Buffalo Bill property). Cliff’s lady friends got him into particular artists in Country, Pop, Rock, Hip Hop and R&B, dancing and even gymnastics. His girlfriend at the end of high school introduced him to the First Wave program, Defcee and Cydney at UW – during the Summer leading up to his Freshman Year. A couple of his old patnas inspired him to dance and sell his own merch. The courts, mall, arcade and bowling alley were often the spots. Some of the homies got discount cards one summer, from DECA, and played many games of $1 bowling. Almost every year, someone would lay out a tarp ahead of time to watch “Rhythm n Booms” at Warner Park on the Northside of Madison. The Crew pushed to “invent” things. They competed against each other but came together as a unit. They used to kick it all over the North and East sides of Mad City.
Cliff spent most of his time around the Neighborhood, on the Family Farms, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells, Black River Falls, Hayward and Chippewa Flowage, and Up Nort in The Northwoods or on The Land during his youth. The boys hung out with their family – on both sides – Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and Cousins, especially Corey Faherty, the Browns and Olsons, a lot. Corey got the guys into a lot of different critical thinking type scenarios, and introduced them to RPGs (Warcraft, Starcraft), Nintendo (Super Mario Brothers), card games (Star Wars, Magic The Gathering), biking, snowboarding, Frisbee, disc golf, music and comedy – especially Alien Ant Farm, Bloodhound Gang, Darude, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Weird Al and Seinfeld. His brother introduced Cliff to Nirvana. The family took trips in their van to many parts of the U.S., often times with a camper or boat attached to the back. They’d fish for panfish: Bluegill, Sunfish, Pumpkinseed, Crappe, Bass, Catfish, Bullhead, Northern Pike and Muskellunge. He also did some crawfish netting at Silver Lake, and played a game similar to the future SlamBall. Of course, the fam and friends went to Packer, Badger and Bucks games. The parties took place in the basement, barn, out back, on the water, or on the block. They saw the Monster Trucks and Globetrotters at the Colosseum on the Westside. The Grefe’s went to Mount Rushmore and panned for Gold in South Dakota, saw the Buffalo, Groundhogs, Badlands, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains, and a rodeo in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Colorado. The family saw Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Cliff and fam also went on a trip to the Cancún area where they 4-wheeled in the jungle and on the beach, saw the ancient ruins, shopped in town, enjoyed nightly performances, and went to Cozumel – where they did some scuba. They also went on trips to Minnesota, Orlando, Florida, and Chicago, Illinois – by train. The family had several dogs. They also had a fish tank for a while, until the giant sucker fish got too big and ate everything else. The Grefe’s raised moths and butterflies from caterpillars, and helped injured birds back to health. One year, from school, they got a praying mantis to care for on their own. They also incubated chicks to hatch in class. Also through school, he also went to help clear brush at the Big Hill, saw the Ringling Bros., Henry Vilas Zoo, Devil’s Lake State Park, Blue Heron Wild Life Sanctuary, The Dells on a Duck tour, Cave of the Mounds. He went on business trips to Lake Geneva, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia – through DECA and FBLA.
His fam spent a lot of time giving back through church – helping out at service, planting trees, picking up trash, making Lefse, Lutefisk, Pie and other Norski dishes and pastries for supper. The Renaissance Man’s favorite color is Green and his favorite number is 2. Green for nature and life. Two because he was always put to the side for someone else, and he knows that’s how they leveraged privilege to stomp him down. Cliff knows he’s 1 but you haven’t been ready. Also, 2 because of its duality and pairing. Much of his fashion comes from athletic gear, clothing that his Mother and Grandmothers sewed for him, hand-me-downs from Cousins, garage sales, thrift shops, local retailers, folk, work and formal wear. His family consisted of highly educated, hardworking, artistic, tough, politically active farmers, teachers, local government, military and technical workers. Clifton was raised of Norwegian and German descent, was baptized and confirmed Lutheran. He does not know who his biological parents are.
The middle child started playing several sports at a young age. The Grefe family built their original hoop with 2x4s and plywood in their gravel driveway. They golfed across the lawn and into the park. They lived across the street from the park and a couple girlfriends – who had a fort built in one of their rooms from wood, pillows and carpeting. The Grefe’s had a big garden with – at one time or another – sunflowers, asparagus, cucumbers, green beans, dill, corn, squash, pumpkins, gourds, tomatoes, green peppers, radishes, cabbage, chives, rhubarb, apples, watermelon and raspberries. They tried not to cheat by using fertilizer and pesticides (keeping it organic), and still have a garden compost bin for biodegradable garbage. The Grefe’s can aka jar a lot as well, have pickled cucumbers, green beans and brussels sprouts, and made jams of many sorts. His Dad dried and made venison jerky as well. These things had to be earned, as did money, and often with House or Yard Chores for Gold Stars or the new kind of Sticker. This pushed the boys to compete against each other. Sometimes the Grefe Boys pooled their earnings for a bigger item.
His mother was into flowers, and his father into trees. The young God absorbed all the knowledge he could. As a kid, the boy also competed in basketball, football and soccer. With his bros and friends around the neighborhood, and area, the kids also liked to explore, build, draw, paint, dance, whistle, hunt, fish, play in the mud, doon buggy, swim, hike, kayak, canoe, swing, merry-go-round, monkey bars, ladder, see saw, raft, 4-wheel, snowmobile, sled, toboggan, bike, skate, ski, snowboard, tend to plants, animals and bugs, play cards, handheld games (including Paperboy and Tetris), Pogs, board games (Pictionary, Monopoly, Uno, Sequence, Taboo, Guesstures, Clue, Risk), Yo-Yo, Pokémon, Nerf Guns, Dress Up, Sega, Playstation, and eventually Xbox, card games (Solitaire, Euchre, Peek, Sheep’s Head, Old Maid, Canasta, Spoons, Speed, Up and Down the River, Rummy, Spades, Hearts, Crazy Eights, Go Fish, War), dominoes, create stories and games, wrestle, box and run. As kids, they’d often to to the Rollerdrome on Friday nights for skating and games. Cliff the adventurous went to the Goodman Pool and many beaches around town including James Madison, Vilas and Governor Nelson’s. He cruised through the locks in Madison when they were open for boaters. Clifton loves to fish. He’s caught Beef and his homies put together basement and backyard fights as well. Muhammad Ali was one of his idols. The Jocks inspired him to lift weights. Eventually, he benched 185 in high school, started doing sets of 50 pushups and 100 situps, with core and leg circuits, several times a day. He ran a mile under 6 minutes, got his flexibility peaking, and wrote out his own workout regimens. For several years, Cliff and a few of the guys got season passes to Cascade Mountain, sometimes even going after basketball practice. They also went on trips to the Upper Peninsula (UP) in Michigan – to Blackjack, Powderhorn and Indianhead – to Ski and Snowboard. This is how he met Colin Droster. Cliff has also done Rib Mountain, Tyrol Basin and Devil’s Head in Wisco, and Copper Mountain in Colorado. The area also played various Yard Games, Horseshoes, Shuffleboard, Beach Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Kubb, Croquet and Bocce Ball.
Clifton has overcome mountains of adversity on his journey to adulthood, including hurdles over Slavery, Torture, Poverty, Homelessness, Imprisonment, Police, Gangs, Drugs, Corruption, Illness, Disability, Racism, Sexism, Heterophobia and Xenophobia during his youth in the 6O8. He and many of his friends have fallen victim, or casualty, to these forces.
Cliff has often embraced Family, Prayer, Art, Music, Games, Women and Environment through problems, and the student of life has always remained committed to his schooling, graduating with a 3.9 GPA at the nearby DeForest Area High School (DAHS) – in 2008. The student was a 7-time lettering athlete in Wisconsin Division 1 varsity athletics, in Basketball, Soccer and Track & Field. A 3-sport 4-year athlete, he competed at the state and national level in DECA and FBLA. He was a Link Leader, Peer Court Judge, active member of National Honor Society (NHS), winner of the Mr. Norski talent show, Track & Field Spirit Award, Best Dressed, Accessorized and Perfect Attendance awards, and played some MATC summer league and AAU hoops – winning several tournaments (around Midwest) and an MVP Award. In hoops, he was inspired by his Father, and his guys, especially Michael “MJ” Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Ray Allen, Bo Ryan, Dick Bennett, Devin Harris, Michael Finley, Brian Butch, Mike Wilkinson, Greg Stiemsma, Joe Krabbenhoft, Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil, Kirk Penney, Alando Tucker, Tanner Bronson, Wes Matthews, Michael Flowers, Trervon Hughes, Marcus Landry, Latrell Sprewell, Allen “A.I.” Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Jason Kidd, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, LeBron “King” James, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin “KG” Garnett, Sam Cassell, “Big Ben” Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Michael Redd, Larry Sanders, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming and many others. He went to camps in Ripon, Menominie and Madison. He even received an offer to play in Australia. In football, his guys Chris “Stolty” Stoltenberg, Scott Fiscus, Colton Haas, Brenton Wolter, Tim Benson, Nate Miller and Justin Orrick inspired him, and many Packers, including Brett Favre. He remembers watching the Superbowl between Green Bay and New England in Super Bowl XXXI – in 1997. Cliff had to compete against a tough girl for the fullback position one year in football. He got an offer to play semi-pro wide reciever in Germantown when he was 18.
Many singled out the Grefe family, and Clifton. For standing on a porch at night, Beef was assaulted by Deforest Police (all White males) at age 18, resulting in permanent nerve damage to his left foot. They gave the incoming UW-Madison student a Resisting Arrest Ticket for trying to free himself, after being beaten on the ground – by hand, elbow, knee, foot, club and taser – defenseless.
The young king was accepted into the globally renowned, but nearby, University of Wisconsin – Madison in the Fall of 2008 on 9 different scholarships. Originally, Cliff planned to study Mathematics, as he had already passed Calculus 2 in high school. He passed AP and AS courses in Psychology, Spanish and Accounting. He was always more into the Sciences, though. Cliff went on to take many Business, Communications, Humanities, Sociology, Psychology and Language classes at UW – finding interest in not one but several other areas. Beef bought a Macbook, hung a mic from his dorm ceiling, employed Garageband, and started recording out of Sellery Hall 5B aka Gillin House. Their floor drink was the Gillinger. His other floormates were also extremely helpful. At this time, Beef began mixing vocals more. He continued to write a lot. Unfortunately, Cliff also caught a bad sickness for several months, and when paired with separate near-fatal accidents involving his Mother and Brother, and the MTV show “College Life” being shot in his dormitory, he had a tough first year at UW. Cliff was placed on academic probation at least 3 times over the course of his college career.
Beef remained resilient, and continued to put his mind to work, finding inspiration from a group of excellent people involved with the Network Marketing company Amway Global. He got involved with the company in the summer leading up to freshman year. The team went on business trips to The Mil, Richmond, Virginia and Dallas, Texas. His buddies were clutch in the industry. Rest in peace to Elliott Kane – a Madison-raised role model and Cliff’s team leader for some time. Cliff was also recruited by the International Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta to become a Founding Father of the Mu Chapter at Wisconsin. According to recruitment, admittance to the Mu Chapter Alpha Class was only granted to those with references, a good academic standing and position in a collegiate org. Also, Phi Gams were known for recruiting “Fiji Gentlemen” and stood by the values: Friendship, Knowledge, Service, Morality and Excellence. They also had the lowest dues on campus. Growing up, Clifton knew virtually nothing at all of Greek Life, but when a highly-respected childhood friend and Amway business partner approached him about membership, Cliff was hard pressed to say no. The Colony Pledge Educator turned out to be Beef’s baptizing and childhood Pastor. Mu raised more money for philanthropic causes than any other Greek chapter on campus. They also partied a lot. Clifton helped organize and inspire many events on the Philanthropy and Social Committees. Beef became known as the go to for playlists – as in high school. The new initiate immediately got to work and taught as Pledge Educator, lead as Vice President of his pledge class, and wound up chairing the Trick or Treat with the Greeks event for several years, and running more miles than anyone else in the yearly Ball Run. The Ball Run is a yearly run from Madison to Minneapolis, or vice versa, along the road, with the game ball. Sponsors donate for the efforts. At this time, most donations went to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Later, some would go to USO. Phi Gams grilled out, held dances, went swimming off the dock, played bags, took a trip to a pumpkin patch and corn maze, and occasionly played a game called Whales Tales. Cliff also participated in the Humorology aka “Humo” for a semester. Also, he took a trip to Land O’ Lakes in Wisconsin, where he did some Jet Skiing, and went up to the Upper Peninsula to play some $5 Blackjack at an area Casino. Some of the Brothers went to a lakehouse on Lake Geneva for one 4th of July. On another 4th, Cliff and a few of his 5B floormates went up to the northern Braynard, MN. A couple years later, he and his girl, and Tony, hit up Chicago for the event.
It was through the fraternity that Cliff met producer Quincy “Kwalae” Harrison of Bloomington, Indiana. The two connected on several levels, and had both already decided to move into their fraternity house during its inaugural year. After settling in, they adopted the name Zooniversity Music – in hopes to craft a Positive, Fun and Ironic sound that would connect their smaller Midwestern communities with larger Badger crowds, and the rest of the world. Since the house was new to their chapter, there were several vacant rooms, and the two were able to flip one of them into a makeshift studio. Quincy and Beef went on a couple trips to Bloomington aka The Bloom in Southern Indiana. One was with fellow fraternity mate Paul Fass – who helped out a lot with fine tuning the sound. They recorded out of a rented office space over Spring Break once, and hit the IU campus to promote. With J.T. “Candyman” McWilliams, later SpeakEasy, and Deveron Crews aka D. Crews, and Jay, the crew went on a road trip to Minneapolis, where they recorded in an in-house studio and at Minneapolis Media Institute (MMI) – a space that Prince apparently used. Unfortunately, the files were lost, but the unit get to see the studio and Dinkytown.
The rap duo quickly released their first single, “Coastie Song (What’s A Coastie)” – a love ode for privileged female student transplants – on Myspace in October of 2009. Going by the names Quincy and Beef, the duo promoted the record using alternative grassroots Social Media and Guerrilla Marketing techniques, which built buzz up to 15,000 plays before they uploaded the song to YouTube (300,000). Beef started making picture-videos for the group’s songs – using Garageband. The record gained widespread attention and sparked national controversy concerning the cultural divide between Wisconsin (and the Midwest) and the Coasts (and Chicagoland). The song was a celebrated sensation throughout the Midwest and East Coast – although some Media outlets (including Hip Hop) called the artists Drunk, Garbage, Racist, Trash, Xenophobic, Anti-Semitic and the song a Parody. They condemned the White Boys for Acting Black, insisting that the pair Hang themselves by Noose and Stop Rapping, among other things.
Clifton’s first ever single was featured by Capital Times, Isthmus, The Badger Herald, NBC 15, WKOW 27, WTDY, WJQM, WSUM, WJJO, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, OnMilwaukee, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Examiner, UPI, Washington Monthly, Forward.com and Boston.com. Alex Truong, of Phi Gamma Delta, gave the guys some of their first coverage. UW and Madison College professors have called on the song in lecture material. A couple girls shot a fan video for the record. Another artist recorded an acoustic remix. A trio of young ladies from the Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) sorority at UW-Madison recorded a remix to the record titled “What’s A Sconnie?” Taylor O’Doherty aka Tay Tay O’Day headed up the group. Opportunities started to pour in. According to Q, Chicago, Illinois singer R. Kelly offered to jump on the remix, if Quincy and Beef payed him $250,000, or it could’ve been $500,000. He also said Rafael Casal (Berkeley, California) of UW-Madison’s First Wave Hip Hop Scholarship Program offered to shoot a music video for $1,000, and New York rapper Mims offered to do a feature for $1,000. Cliff was obviously misunderstood, and didn’t have that kind of money, so he and Q kept pushing forward.
Quincy and Beef crafted the “My Biddy” record for the University of Wisconsin – Madison Chancellor on Valentine’s Day. Sam Petricca of The MadHatters acappella group offered his vocals to the mix. With roses, the duo hand delivered the song to Biddy Martin’s doorstep. She graciously accepted, inviting them to her holiday party at her house. The record was a hit around town, and was later covered by Wisconsin State Journal and Isthmus, who largely praised the record, but also said that some would find it Offensive. The Zoo’s first project, a 7-track Red Zebra Exhibit EP, was released in the Spring of 2010. VibeToThis posted.
Moving on, Beef spent the Summer recording and filming with Quincy for their first music video “Teach Me How To Bucky” with Cascia Productions. He started bouncing around this time too at the Nitty Gritty Birthday Bar. Quincy and Logan Cascia edited the movie and sound. Beef also dropped a popular “Black & Yellow” remix, called “Red & White”, in response to Wiz Khalifa’s popular record. Zooniversity premiered the TMHTB video on the Jumbotron at the UW Homecoming game. The Cinematographer was working at Camp Randall, and had the plug there. The Cali Swag District remix features many campus celebrities including UW chancellor Biddy Martin, marching band director Mike Leckrone, many football athletes and local celebrity Piccolo Pete. The duo performed at various venues, and did a wild show with Madison local DJ group Dirty Disco Kidz and Hip Hop band Star Persons for “Nightmare on State Street 2” at The Orpheum – on Halloween.
Although intended to show positive Wisconsin state and collegiate pride, the Zoo caught shade upon the video’s release from both their university and its athletic department for copyright infringement. However, according to Q, after the two entities understood that the music video was the best free promotion they’d ever receive (over 2,200,000 plays on Youtube and national press), both parties agreed to promote it and sell the shirts. Particular outlets also complained that the video was Too White, wrote the artists off as Goofy creators of a Spoof, and insisted that the artists Die. There were also rumors that Zooniversity Music was being sued by Cali Swag District, but as far as Beef knew, this was not true. Also, Quincy has claimed, more and more, as time has gone on, that he thought up the playful songtitle, but as he explained before the initial drop, it was a tweet from fraternity brother Kurt Peters (since deleted) that gave him the remix idea.
Regardless of the continual media bias, and attempted sabotage from others, Clifton drew far-reaching attention and created national dialogue – once again. “Teach Me How To Bucky” was featured on many national and local platforms, including Capital Times, Isthmus, The Badger Herald, NBC 15, WKOW 27, OnWisconsin, Triple MMM, WJQM, WJJO, WTDY, WSUM, Marquette Wire, UW-Green Bay News, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Deadspin, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Northwestern, Examiner, Bloom Magazine, Dallas Observer, Bustle, The Journal Times. The record also made “The Best Madison Music Video of 2010” by Isthmus, was awarded “Video of the Year” at the annual Madison Area Music Awards (MAMAs), and ran as the #1 song on local Hip Hop station 93.1 JAMZ (Madison-DeForest, former 105.9) for many weeks.
In December, Zooniversity dropped the “Jimi Thing” record with an open verse, inviting other artists to record their own version – as a competition for the final feature spot. Later in the month, Badger Trips recruited the artists to promote their Rose Bowl trip in Zooniversity’s original video series “Zooday Tuesday”. In exchange, the duo performed on a private jet from Madison, Wisconsin to Los Angeles, California on December 30. Tension arose between the two artists due to Beef’s frustrations with the vulturing, self–serving producer over several issues, especially financial. Beef and Rio Escobar set up the “Beerpong Champions” collaboration between The Zoo and Madison’s Soldier Click in late January. The multi-faceted Escobar filmed, edited and performed on the straight-to-video record. Then the two parties dropped the visual the following month. Beef also dropped an “Activate My Heart” remix with Sun Prairie’s D. Crews. Universal removed the Youtube version almost immediately. Zooniversity dropped their last record on 4/20/11 called “Just Relax”. Many local artists had recorded verses to the “Jimi Thing” beat, and Beef wanted to use one of theirs for the track, but Q chose to release the official version with West Coast Frat Rapper Loggy instead. Pardon The Swag Music, Great White Shark, DML.fm and VibeToThis posted the “Just Relax” record. The two had about 50 unreleased records, according to the producer. Quincy wound up stealing almost all the money from the group (except ~$600) and consistently locked Beef out of the social media accounts (which denied Clifton access to his fanbase, local artists, opportunies and industry connections altogether). The descendent of William Henry Harrison was also racist and strangely hateful toward those from the area. Their last performance took place on a crane boat, alongside J.T. Roach, on Lake Mendota. Although problematic at times, Zooniversity Music drew the first major attention to Wisconsin Hip Hop since Coo Coo Cal in the early 2000s.
Since, Beef has been pursuing his solo career, which has gone in a much more personal direction. He spent the next few months teaching himself to engineer using Logic Pro, a mini-Keyboard and Akai MPD. He also delivered a verse on local Fitchburg native J.T. Roach’s “If It Kills Me” R&B record, which has since been reworked several times. Roach would sign to Redbull Records alongside Harrison. Beef dropped his freshman solo tape Chapter 1: The Sun & Moon – a two-sided project of originals, consisting of 11 SUN and 11 MOON tracks – on October 31, 2011. The SUN records reflect the conscious, soulful side of the artist and the life that everyone had grown used to seeing during the day. The world had heard this bright side of the artist through his past group. On the MOON side, Clifton reveals the darker side to his life and what he hadn’t covered in his more structured group. He also started bartending around this time.
Director Beef set up the music video for the project’s first single, “Travel Light”, which was filmed and released in the Summer leading up to the Autumn drop. The reflective Boom Bap record features additional vocals from Candice Duarte and production from Madison Media Institute (MMI) graduate Michael Cooper. The first 15 tracks were released on the artist’s Bandcamp page. He secured feats from locals Kane-O, Reign (Reigny Day), Deken Frost (Star Persons), Swisha Vendetta aka Veezy of Rockford, IL, D. Crews, ¡Oye!, and Marvy Marv of Madison’s Track Team Music (TTM) for the tape, and received production help from hometown heroes Cooper, Reign and Platinum-selling DJ Pain 1. Both sides are introduced by a spoken word interpretation from Beef. Together, all 22 tracks represent the first chapter of Beef’s life – Chapter 1. Soon, College-of-Music posted, as well as Fusion Mixtapes.
It was a difficult Winter overcoming a confrontation with his Jewish, suburban New York roommate – who continually disrespected Clifton’s family, friends, work and music behind his back – but then showed love to Clifton’s face. Of course, Cliff approached and asked his fraternity brother if he had a problem, something to say, or admit. Tim denied it all, though of course Beef had heard much of the other slander that he’d said. They agreed to fight, and hit each other a few times, although Clifton Grefe obviously hits much harder than Tim Fram – who then tried to land Cliff another felony. Beef was arrested by the Black Madison Police Officer Howard Payne, who was praised for his involvement in community and speaking up for a marginalized population – who published lies in the report that has been online since 2011 – but takes pride in his attention to “fact”. Payne said in a 2018 message to Clifton, “I would expect, as you so eloquently explained in your email below, that due to this event happening so long ago, it would not have any adverse impact on you. I don’t see how something that happened in 2011 would prevent you from “Moving on with your life”, and I would think that all of the good measures (both on an academic scale and socially) would plummet your reputation to exalted levels.” Beef missed Christmas, was forced to move back home and lose touch with much of his Fraternity. The New Yorker lied to the Police, Judge, University and Fraternity about what transpired. At his bar jobs, Cliff’s managers recognzed his talents, but often refused to play his music, and made him do a disproportionate amount of the grimy jobs. Beef still made it back to UW by the following semester. By May 2012, the artist was Producing, Promoting and Headlining the “Mifflin Kick Off” event with Kid Ink at Orpheum Theatre, with Freddie (Minnesota) of WDYWN. Clifton was working for 93.1 JAMZ of Midwest Family Broadcasting at the time, so he also hooked up an interview at the station with JD Garfield. Cliff also assisted with the Big Sean concert at the “Taste of Madison”. He’s been to many Wisconsin area Hip Hop shows, and a few in Los Angeles. Basement Made and WDYWN featured local artists Soldier Click, DJ Pain 1, Shah, Deck Ent, Veezy, D. Crews, Candice Duarte and Kane-O in the lineup. Darnell Smalls and Jay worked security. Tony Sanchez flipped the footage of the performance into a video for the rock-influenced “Eyes Low”. No significant violence occurred at the show, nor did any at Clifton’s previous performance with Dirty Disco Kidz at the same venue.
He dropped the “Skittlin (remix)” on April 15, 2012 in response to Kanye’s “Cold (Theraflu)”. Beef saw further recognition for his work the following Summer. RAWartists: Madison nominated the “Coolin” video for “Ensemble 2012”. Excited, but disappointed that it was a Pay-to-Play operation, the artist was pressured out of doing the show. Clear Channel’s Z104 later nominated Beef as the station’s first ever “Artist of the Month” (but never posted article). The remaining 7 songs were released as a re-up, entitled Chapter 1: The Eclipse, on August 15, 2012 with “The SUN” and “The MOON” visuals. He debuted the merch on the brand new Basement Made Tumblr platform. Clifton premiered the motto “it all started in the basement…” at this time because his family’s blue and white basement on the Northside of Madison is where he found solitude and escape in times of danger and pain. He remembers finding inspiration in music, listening, dancing and singing to records, painting, building and deconstructing things, and playing games in the basement. The basement continued to be an important place for him through his teen years, for evolving but related reasons, and as a place for collaboration among friends, into adult life. Beef also noticed that basements were especially common in The Midwest aka The North. The current Mission: to get Clifton, Wisconsin, the Midwest and other intelligent, talented artists and craftsman – justice and prosperity – in America. WIhiphop shared one of the videos on their platform. Beef featured on Kane-O’s “Live Now Die Never” record – a Weightless production (beat by Michael Cooper, video by Tony Sanchez, words by 6O8 artist) – in August. Then it was onto the “Backpacks & Tattoos” remix of the “Snapbacks and Tattoos” song. He also offered a verse on a Winner’s Circle (Sun Prairie), and SpeakEasy (California by way of Sun Prairie by way of Minnesota), “I.D.K.” record. Another complete 6O8 collaboration, Quaibozz made the beat, Winner’s Circle the hook, and Beef and SpeakEasy – the verses. Clifton also hopped on the Dr. Dre beat and dropped it as “Beats by Dre Commercial”.
The GRIME TAPE
Cliff dropped his sophomore project on April 4, 2013, while working to finish up his double major in Sociology and Spanish at UW-Madison. His girlfriend at the time, who introduced him to Fon Du Lac, broke up with him on the day. The Chapter series is an autobiography, delivered through smart, lyrical, tightly tailored music. The Grime style is all about living up despite the lows, getting wild, and not holding anything back. The sounds are different. Production changed on this project, after Beef began composing more of his records, and working heavily with Michael Cooper. He featured Marvy Marv, Dflo, D. Crews and Yung Saint on the project, and grabbed additional production from Cooper, Madison’s Victory and Captain Hook. The GRIME TAPE was originally to be released exclusively as a mixtape, but since all of the music was original, it was posted for sale on iTunes in early 2013. Beef later posted it for free download on his SC.
Beef continued to study Hip Hop while in college, House and EDM, and began making playlists on his computer – utilizing the internet and social media more, especially Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud and Pandora. He always took time to remember the greats. Some of his favorite rising artists were Drake, The Weeknd, King Louie, Tory Lanez, Big Sean, Chevy Woods, K Camp, Kevin Gates, Post Malone, Verse Simmonds, G-Eazy, Mike Posner, Nicki Minaj, Bei Maejor, Kid Ink, 2 Chainz, New Boyz, Audiopush, Jon Connor, Tyga, Freddie Gibbs, Machine Gun Kelly, Prof, Allan Kingdom, Chance The Rapper, Lil Durk, Lil Reese, Chief Keef, Rockie Fresh, DeJ Loaf, Kid Cudi, Chip Tha Ripper, Royce Da 5’9″, Slaughterhouse, J. Cole, Action Bronson, Kirko Bangz, Ace Hood, Rick Ross, Future, Migos, Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Murs, Nipsey Hussle, The Fugees, Wale, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Mac Miller, Hit-Boy, Travi$ Scott, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Joey Bada$$, Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., Cyhi the Prynce, Asher Roth, Curren$y, Yelawolf, Jay Rock, Donnis, Yung L.A., Waka Flocka Flame, O.J. da Juiceman, Trinidad James, Rae Sremmurd, Bobby Shmurda, YG, Hopsin and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. In Wisco, he started to get more into local emcees. Before, Beef had listened to Madison’s Profound, Joe Flowroshus, F.A.B, AA, The Crest and DJ Pain 1. Then he got into Chaos NewMoney, 3rd Dimension, Smokes, Anthony Lamarr, and Milwaukee Hip Hop with Pizzle, Klassik and The Cranberry Show – who were coming up, and UW First Wave Hip Hop with Defcee (Oak Park, IL), J Dante (Chicago), ¡Oye! (Milwaukee), Phonetic One aka P1 (Minneapolis) and Rafael Casal – who placed The Zoo on one of his sites. Also VJ Wesley, Sean Smart and Moses. Clifton also explored singers Damien Marley, Miguel, Taio Cruz, Pleasure P, Fantasia, Avant, Ty Dolla $ign, Kevin McCall, Bruno Mars, Justin Vernon, New Kids on the Block, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Adele and Skylar Grey. His girlfriend at the time introduced him to Vegetarianism, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, The Beatles, and some aspects of Buddhism and Horoscopes.
The student graduated from the UW-Madison in May of 2013, earning a Double Major in Sociology and Spanish from the prestigious university, and receiving a nomination from Esty Dinur (by way of Russia and Israel) at Wisconsin Union Theater – for “2013 Compelling Graduate Story”. He learned a lot about World Music at his position there, took photo and video, edited, took notes on webinars, and ran certain social media channels. Cliff also dominated in competitive basketball, football, soccer and volleyball leagues. He served as Marketing Chair of Kick It To Cancer, helping orchestrate one of the orgs’ first large scale campus event at his fraternity house. Cliff also gained experience through Service-Learning courses at UW, overseeing the English-Spanish bilingual Southdale afterschool program, and working the fraternity Halloween event for a few years in a row – with kids. Also, Cliff and his First Year Interest Group (FIG) worked together to organize one of the area’s first health screenings (at a food pantry) at S.S. Morris Community AME on the Eastside of Madison. He and the squad researched many 6O8 based pantries and churches before coming up with the plan. Cliff spent his graduation day in detox, after partying alone the night before.
The alumnus unveiled the visuals for “Smörgåsbord” in the Summer of 2013. Beefy directed and produced the video in a downtown Madison arts facility. Tony Sanchez shot and edited the music video. WIhiphop posted, and later Midwest Loud followed suit. In June, an uplifting multi-ethnic collaboration with Christian, Gospel-Soul-Hip Hop Singer and Civil Rights Leader Anthony Lamarr, Mad City emcees Smokes and D.L.O. The Iceman, engineer Scott Lamps, Grammy-nominated Joey Banks and decorated cinematographer Trevor Banks – called “Elevation” – lead to a music video at Blue Mound State Park, in the Winter, and awarded Beef with his 2nd Madison Area Music Award – which would later lead to a Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award nomination. The crew performed the collaboration at the Overture Center for the Arts during the MAMAs. Beef dropped the Big Sean – “BEWARE” and Problem – “Can’t-Stand-Ya” remixes in September, and the “NO SHAME” collaboration and dedication with the 6O8’s Spencer Zue and Superior Webbs – at the end of December. RIP Zue.
The time frame of Chapter II: Double Major stretches from the final years in Clifton Beef’s college career to the present. His latest album is to be composed of many EPs, of different styles, that piece together to tell the full story. Chapter 2‘s first single “Oh Lord” features local lyricist Carter Jordan and production from Michael Cooper. The introspective record was released straight-to-video in November of 2013. WIhiphop posted, and eventually Midwest Loud. Too Shade of Superior Webbs, a local artist, shot the film in Token Creek. The second single “Dear Britney,” was revealed a few months after, followed by a more cooled out “The One That Got A Way”. Too Shade did the beat and Cooper mixed it. Both songs were written about females that made a lasting impression on him. Beef performed the tracks at The Wisco, alongside Pledge Empire Records, on Madison’s East Side.
The Midwest Renaissance Man reached the pinnacle of his Alcoholism in 2014, after having just got off papers, again, marking the end of a 10-year on-and-off balancing act with one problem, but stressing another. He was also involved in a car accident. His hard drive crashed for the 3rd time. He kicked it with a few friends – Chris Hayes, Drew Simmons, Christian Alcorta aka C.A., and Kevin Bailey – for a while, who kept him going. Cliff signed up with 3 Staffing Agencies in Madison but none of them found him a job.
Over the previous couple of years, Beef had also attempted to book many Madison and area venues, but all turned him away due to supposed Violence from Local Hip Hop. The artist and recent UW alumnus tried to organize a yearly large scale UW-sponsored concert but was told it wasn’t in the budget. The following school year, UW launched the “Revelry Music Festival” as the annual UW-sponsored concert, putting largely Industry and First Wave acts on stage, instead of a mix of local and industry. He interviewed one of their representatives, but after hearing their lack of local music knowledge, he began rigorously applying for positions in business – domestic and foreign (through AIESEC) – seeing a gig in a big city market as the key to connect the industry to the local scene. Cliff went far in interviews with companies in Norway, Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary, Singapore, China and Taiwan – but every time the VISA situation proved to be too complicated. He was also offered positions in Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Peru – but they didn’t pay enough to live on.
After a tough year, a few standalone tracks and instrumentals, Beef got the plug from Justin Hunte (of South Carolina) and made the move to California in early 2015. He dropped 3 jobs and nearly everything he had in Madison – on 3 weeks notice – to pack up and ship out to the HipHopDX (Canada-New York-Los Angeles) office in Hollywood, California for a 3-month Hip Hop Editorial Internship. Out of the hundreds upon hundreds of jobs and internships that Clifton applied and submitted to, DX was the only American company to offer Clifton a job outside of hospitality and manual labor. He stayed on SpeakEasy’s floor for his first month in California, in Anaheim, taking the Metro an hour and a half to work (both ways). Then he moved to a so-called Student-Artist community, in Franklin Village, in Hollywood. This was virtually his only option. As an intern, Cliff worked 1 month in Editorial, News and Audio/Video, met Glasses Malone, Dubb, Audiopush, Krayzie Bone, Bei Maejor, Dizaster, No I.D., was the #1 contributor, and was offered a Freelance Contributor position following his trial period.
Travis Scott said “it all started in the basement” on his 2015 Rodeo record “I Can Tell”.
Wisconsin Hip Hop artists, including Reggie Bonds, Trapo, Ra’Shaun, Chaos NewMoney, LilChief, DJ Pain 1, Owen Uhl, Carti Bankx, started getting major record, management and booking deals, and prime media attention at this time.
Cliff accepted the job, picked up a social media rep position at The FADER, as well as acting, and other freelance gigs, and re-launched the Basement Made platform – with some help from a couple friends at the house he was staying at. He began making a name for himself in LA as a Rapper-Journalist. His piece on the subject is now a top 3 result in Google. Rather than simply posting or criticizing, Clifton Beef is known for his Local Wisconsin Speak, Vast Vocabulary, Brutal Honesty, Progressive Social Commentary, Poetic Flow, Extensive Research, and Knowledge of the Independent Artist. He has published at several periodicals, over 250 articles to DX and 1,000 to Basement Made – placing more Wisconsin and Midwest artists than virtually everyone on Earth.
While interning at DX, Beef typically returned from his 9-5 at the office to work all night in his makeshift garage studio in Hollywood. The house he stayed at is a story of its own (ran by two men from Florida and one from Colombia), but starting with “It’s Your Move” on August 8 of 2015, Beef was back to dropping music. HipHopDaily.net posted. Clifton launched his first ever fundraising campaign in December, on Indiegogo, asking for contributions to help battle his constant, malicious attackers, to get him in a safe living situation, to help build Basement Made up so that other unique, talented, hardworking tradesmen and artists could see recognition and opportunity on a broader, more dynamic scale, so production, publishing and education quality of presentation could be increased, and so the Midwest would be treated as a significant part of the United States. His ex was the only one to contribute ($50), which he did not accept. The artist followed the campaign with the Cooper-made title track “Off Papers / Double Major”, and a self-produced, one-take “Anything If Nothing”. He dedicated the “Outer Space” collaboration – with Anthony Lamarr and Michael Cooper – to fallen emcee Phonetic One, producer Zue, Kelsey Olson, and those in distress – via HipHopDX. The Badger Herald and Daily Cardinal later picked up the story. Next, Beef uncovered a couple more heartfelt records – “Old Thompson & Marb Reds” and “The Only Thing Left Is Religion”. He made the first beat and Victory did the second.
Then, Beef penned a huge piece called “Madison Hip Hop Needs Renaissance To Pop”. The article drew wide reaching support, but also criticism for its straightforwardness – particularly from the on-air personality Brian Holmes (Florida) of 93.1 JAMZ – who said Clifton was an Ego-Driven Narcissist who has actually achieved next to nothing.
On December 15, 2015, the artist premiered the music video for “Off Papers” and the spoken word campaign video for “Basement Made”. Beef directed and produced the music video with local talent Colin Droster – of Drawstring Productions – who previously featured a studio performance of Clifton’s “Homemade” record in his Focus Boardshop premiere of the Snowboarding-Local Music piece entitled “CHEEZ : Local Produce From Wisconsin”. Former DX multimedia manager James Kreisberg (of New York) edited the film. On this day, Clifton also slated Chapter II: Double Major for a 2016 release. A month later in the Winter, he would deliver The Hustle EP via Basement Made on January 15, 2016. Clifton produced half of the project, Michael Cooper did the other. Both HipHopDX and GetYourBuzzUp picked up the project.
The Fall In
Next, Beef debuted an EP for the ladies called The Fall In on February 22, 2016. This was his first R&B record, and modeled the project after the 3 kinds of love most familiar to him: Love, Lust and Leisure. The artist ties each record to a part of day, crafting one as a morning record called “Sushi & Eggs”, one for the afternoon called “Good Brain”, and one for the night, he named “Nightswim”. Madison’s Michael Cooper delivers production, Oklahoma’s Tony Chaney the guitar, J|D (Orange County), and Charles White (D.C.) the vocals.
Clifton penned the massive feature called “The Wisconsin Soul: The Best Rappers Out The Badger State” aka “The Hottest Rappers On The 2016 Wisconsin Music Scene” to HipHopDX on March 24, 2016 – about a year from when he started his internship at the publication. His work was widely embraced throughout Wisconsin and America. Namely, Beef spoke to IshDARR, Trapo, Ra’Shaun, Pizzle, WebsterX, Wave Chapelle, 3rd Dimension, Von Alexander, Sean Smart, Rahn Harper and Bankx for the feature. The dynamic piece is now the #1 result in Google for “Wisconsin Hip Hop”, and top 3 for “Madison Hip Hop” and “Milwaukee Hip Hop”. Surprisingly, the artist was also met with attacks and false accusations from some of the artists he placed – IshDarr, WebsterX, Reggie Bonds, Klassik, B. Ortiz – all of whom previously supported. Also Charles Grant. And from the white collar side came journalist Dylan Houghton of Daily Chiefers (Florida), Tone Madison (Scott Gordon of Florida and Michael Penn II of suburban D.C.), and Janice M. Voigt.
A day later, Clifton released the visuals for “Good Brain”, a feel good smoker song. The Multi Directed, Produced, Performed and Co-starred in the music video – alongside actress Nicole Samra (California). The Cali native pushed him to get his website in order, take more photos, freelance outside writing, and listen to ’80s Rock and Pop. Beef recorded the new song with globetrotting singer Leona Harper back in Madison and later wrapped it up in Cali. This was also the first music video he edited himself. He uses Final Cut Pro. Get Your Buzz Up supported once again. Houghton of Daily Chiefers posted the “Nightswim” record (but would later delete article).
Clifton, drawn thin from stress and malnutrition, and missing an opportunity to join a couple of recovered addicts to AA (from Nebraska), he turned to the Ambien “Blue Pill” (after he was given a mixed bag of pills from a housemate returning to Tennessee), and he collapsed on the cement in early April. There was also Alcohol, Cocaine, Cough Syrup, Molly, Xanax, Acid and Prostitutes, among many other stereotypical Hollywood things, in heavy rotation at the house – pushing the recovering addict to relapse, but before and after the incident with the Blue, Cliff has stayed away from everything but the safe “Red Pill” Ibuprofen. Luckily, the legendary artist was only knocked unconscious, and lost his front 2 teeth, but he also found this a good time to unveil The Depression on 4/16/16. Cliff expresses the importance of the numbers 2,4 and 16 with the release. As survival and career advancement have been exceptionally difficult for the young artist, he has had to formulate numerical – and at times paradoxical or parabolic – plans and explanations for the progression of his life. He explains the importance of God, Math, Work and Art in overcoming Poverty, Torture, Drugs and Depression on the project.
Around this time, Beef also uncovered the music video for “Old Thompson & Marb Reds”. Arcani of ATM Visuals did the edit. Cliff had recorded the song 2 years prior in 2014, 2 years since his last stint in any sort of rehab, although it was DeForest, Wisconsin’s Jacob Weisenburger who added the final vocal touches to the mix in Hollywood, and Michael Cooper who did the engineering. The artist realized, at the time of release, that he was in sunny California – living life off his “Bars”.
On April 18, 2016, Clifton “Beef” Grefe was added to Wikipedia.
The artist was also nominated for another Madison Area Music Award in 2016 – for the “Breathe” collaboration with Anthony Lamarr, D.L.O. The Iceman, Smokes, and Trevor Banks. A powerful record, the song speaks out against the Police Brutality that Black Americans face in America, considering the recent tragic case of Tony Robinson in Madison, Wisconsin. They recorded, mixed and mastered the song at Blast House Studios in Madison. Scott Lamps engineered it, the bass and keys, Pete Ross the Saxophone, Charley Wagner the Trumpet, Ida Jo the Violins, and Joey B. Banks the Drums. Trevor Banks handled the lens, and Demetrius Kigeya starred.
The artist speaks of Madison’s legendary night scene and his past of bar life on The Bars EP. He teamed up with Chaos NewMoney, Swisher Sweez and Big Daddy Earl of A Few Good Men (AFGM) and Dflo for assists. Scattered Brains mixed 2/3 records and made the last beat. Beef mixed “Dive” and crafted the other 2 beats. The project is much more energized than Beef’s prior projects of 2016. He flows about the wild side of Mad City. Beef unleashed a record each night during the drop: “Thirsty Thursday” (June 9), “Dive” on Friday (June 10), and “A-Bar” on Saturday (June 11). Clifton, Anthony Lamarr and crew won their 2nd “Hip Hop Song of the Year” at 2016 MAMAs for “Breathe”, making it 3 for Beef overall.
The Move Out West
Also, over the first year and a half that he spent in LA, Beef was pushed to dedicate much of his time to speaking out and taking action against the “Slumlords” of Los Angeles – who attacked the artist and other residents (largely low income, disconnected and/or foreign) over the course of their stay in Hollywood, resulting in at least the death of an elderly, disabled Douglas Stingley (of Oregon) – who was placed in an upstairs bedroom, with a boot on his foot, to come down a slick staircase. One of the owners stabbed another student, and he fled the country. Cliff took divisive action with the city and community organizations, and it took time, but he and Lauren Benn have since exposed and brought an end to the organization as it operated. Another critical piece, “The Truth About Student Artist Housing” self-documented activism is now #1 in Google.
Cliff appeared in the Fall 2016 OnWisconsin Issue in the “OnAlumni” section. He also popped up in the Halloween 2016 episode of ABC’s Black-Ish, called “The Purge”, the promo poster for CBC’s Schitt’s Creek, and continues to push for bigger opportunities in the arena of Hollywood TV & Film. The artist moved around October 12 and started outlining a more expansive piece. He also took a few photos with Eric Einhaus, from Plano, IL, of Broken House Media.
Anthony Lamarr dropped his T.R.Y. (Trials Raise You) project on January 1, 2017, with another heartfelt track from a similar looking crew. The “Service” record is up for another 2017 MAMA award.
Clifton Beef published his first Book, entitled Why Wisconsin Voted For Donald Trump: The Coastie Privilege on President Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day (January 20). Since October-November, he started putting many ideas together into one big body. Even though Beef includes extraordinarily detailed personal accounts, and exceptionally expansive research, it only took him about 3 months to write Da Book. His content includes striking insights into American history, culture, community, social and beaurocratic structures, work, science, values, demographics, biology, genetics, music, film, broadcasting, entertainment, internet, family, relationships, politics, crime, slavery, and much more. Sadly, Carter Jordan of Burke passed around this time as well. RIP to a great artist and friend. Clifton released the single “Back To Work” less than a month later. “The Midwest Renaissance” piece covers ensuing releases from other area artists.
Clifton started getting strange clicks on his phone, before calls, around this time. Beef also realized he had become, especially as of late, the muse and scapegoat for many industry Hip Hop artists and writers. In addition, Beef got a rush of flashbacks from dark parts of his past that he’d forgotten, and emotions he hadn’t felt in years. He remembers these dreary and hazy states that he was in, as well, particularly at the Brown family farm, throughout his first house, the basement of the second, Dope’s basement, Cancun, his room at Phi Gamma Delta, Dane County Jail, his studio apartment at 2 Langdon, out back at night at the Hollywood house, and most recently – Meriter Hospital. Cliff also started recognizing that some of his body’s movements and functions were tied with live thoughts going through his head – as if to lead him to a certain on-the-spot decisions. He was hearing compliments, but also an abundance of unwanted slurs, adlibs and full phrases, mentally, sprinkled throughout his daily life, that were coming from many different voices. Knowledge of these senses, paired with a eye-opening family incident at his Koreatown apartment in LA, sent the man on a long walk for answers. Eventually, Beef returned to Wisconsin, in late March, excited about the new possibilities to follow his recent hard-fought achievements in a major city, but he was met with no opportunities – leaving him homeless for about half of 2017. The only person (outside his parents) to offer him a place to stay was Milwaukee artist Hakeem Paragon (who Grefe had interviewed but never met). Cliff lived out of a few local shelters (until the Black male of 50-70, in charge of the E. Wash facility, banned Clifton from Porchlight shelters as a personal vendetta), in parks, backyards and swamps in the downtown area (UW left a note for Clifton, on his things, threatening him to stop “camping” in their Arboretum swamp, or be removed – on the day that Beef started moving into his Fall 2017 apartment). Cliff recognized that certain frequencies and pulls were coming from different electronic sources around town, and this was having effects on his health too. In Madison, he found the strongest were coming from government and UW buildings, hospitals and city parks. Electromagnetic radiation is a factor. Outside of Madison, since this time, these mental (and physical) attacks have been strongest in Chicago, Cleveland and Ann Arbor. Cliff does not have Dementia or Schizophrenia but he could be diagnosed as having Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. Beef also studied patterns of the North-East-South-West model of the U.S. and its cities, plants and animals, and programs for the low-income and homeless. Finally, he realized his enslavement by America, and a gross amount of factors preventing its humans from accepting Clifton as one of their kind, granting him safety, quiet enjoyment, equal rights and opportunity, freedom of speech, justice and compensation. Cliff has also found that he has superior memory and senses, strength, sex drive, vision, hearing, body control and adaptability to humans, and has a higher tolerance for pain, which has made him more brilliant but also easier to compartmentalize and track.
Despite the setback, Beef released the Chapter II: Double Major album on July 5, 2017, while living on the streets. The 46-track project is composed of 9 different EP’s – each representing a different part or period of his life. Most are about his life in Wisconsin but several were inspired by the 2 years in LA. Cliff put together a visual for “Nightswim” and dropped that on July 10. Shia Fisher of Something Media filmed and Dee Foote co-starred.
After picking up a moving job at Two Men and a Truck (winning “Mover of the Month” back to back), and getting off the streets, Clifton released “Holidays Are Over” in January of 2018. He traveled the country in late 2017-2018, and has completed jobs all over Wisconsin, in Jersey City, NJ, Northampton, MA, Durham, North Carolina, Columbia, SC, Cleveland, OH, Ann Arbor, MI, San Antonio, TX, just east of Nashville, TN, Columbia, MO, Marquette and Northern Iowa, Peoria and Chicago, IL, Mankato and Minneapolis, MN.
Beef followed the powerful song up with a much more cooled out “28”. The lyricist dropped the memorable “Up Nort Cold” joint shortly after that. Then “Basement Made” in April and “Spring Thaw” in May. Beef laid out a juking “Finesse record in July.
The bigbody moved into his first ever apartment, that is larger than a studio, in October, and got right to work, recording and releasing the epic “King in The North” single. The singer shows his range on the Scottie Flames beat. Cliff mixed it.
The Artist, Scientist, Leader, Survivor, Award-Winning Multi and University of Wisconsin – Madison Alumnus currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin.