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Fragmented by a stark class divide, Chicago is widely considered one of America’s most segregated cities.
Plagued by a looming public perception of poverty and violence, the dominant narrative surrounding Chicago speaks to very distinct stretches of abandoned buildings, boarded houses and notorious neighborhoods. However, buried beneath this popular stigma exists a more triumphant story of resilience expressed through the legacy of artists, athletes and prominent figures who’ve emerged from the trenches to pave their own path.
Dropping out of high school at the age of 16, Chicago native G Herbo appeared destined to be another unfortunate statistic consumed by his circumstances. Instead, the 23-year-old emcee has swiftly emerged to not only solidify a formidable rap career, but further position himself as a promising addition to a roster of hometown legends like Chance The Rapper, Common, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco.
For the second installment of Self Made Tastes Better season two, Luc Belaire CEO and fellow Chicago native Brett Berish sits down with G Herbo to discuss his early come up story, beating the streets, and the spark that inspired him to create a legacy of his own.
Herbo first stepped into the spotlight in 2012, capturing the attention of fans and critics alike with the Lil Bibby assisted “Kill Shit”, a song that has since grown to surpass a staggering 37 million YouTube views. The duo later followed up the success of their early standout with “Ain’t Heard Bout You”, a record that has generated just under 33 million views to date.
Since making his formal introduction, G Herbo has released a slate of critically acclaimed mixtapes, including his 2014 debut “Welcome to Fazoland”. In 2016, after attracting widespread attention, Herbo was added to the 2016 XXL Freshman Class, gracing the cover alongside celebrates artists like Anderson .Paak, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Dave East and Kodak Black.
Leveraging the heightened momentum, Herbo released his anticipated debut album Humble Beast in 2017. In 2018, he teamed up with Grammy nominated Atlanta producer Southside of 808 Mafia for the release of Swervo, a joint project marking his first full-length project under a major label imprint. He has also collaborated with a growing roster of notable stars such as Nicki Minaj, Chance The Rapper, Joey Bada$$, Lil Durk, Gunna and Don Q.
How do you define being Self-Made and how has that shown up throughout your career?
G Herbo: If you look at everything I’ve done throughout my career, I’ve always been self-made. I’ve been rapping for six years, and I’m still independent. Of all the years I’ve been rapping, I’ve only been seriously focused the last three. Before, I was too focused on other stuff, being young and in the streets. It was about making a little bit of money and having fun. When I took the time to focus on rap and really make it my career, that’s when I started reaping all of the benefits. I’ve kept the same people around me and have been with the same team since the start of my career. It took me making a decision to take rap seriously, because I had all of the motivation and push I needed. Everybody around me wanted me to become the best version of myself as a man, and as an artist. Even with that push and support, it was always ultimately my decision to fully focus and pour all of my time and attention into music. That was a self-made decision. You have to stay focused and have faith in yourself.
What was the spark or turning point that drove you to finally make the decision to take your career more seriously?
G Herbo: I always saw myself becoming what I wanted to be, but I never understood what it took to get there. I just thought talent could get me to where I wanted to be in life, but it takes a lot more than that. It was also a combination of life and going through different experiences. I’m smart and I pay attention. You can fool me once, but you won’t fool me twice. After having different experiences, I knew what I had to do to get focused. If I didn’t move smarter or take things more seriously, I knew that was going to fall on me and nobody else. I’m going to be the one reaping the benefits if I do it, and I’m going to be the story they talk about if I don’t. I’ll be the talented young rapper that couldn’t make it out. Manifesting the future I saw for myself was ultimately up to me.
We often hear about the self-made success stories, but rarely know the years of adversity — How have the challenges shaped your path to success?
G Herbo: When people see me now and have an opinion on the way I live, I don’t think they remember the times when I was really grinding. Thank God for YouTube, because you can really see my whole career and the process to reaching this point. You can see the growth through all of the years since I started to right now.
What have been some of the notable challenges you’ve faced jumping all the way into music and what lessons did you take away?
G Herbo: Being in the streets was really my biggest challenge. That’s where 100% of my focus was directed. I was a full-time street dude, part-time rapper. Rapping was the easy part, which made it harder to take seriously. Things like getting in the studio, doing shows and interacting with my fans came naturally. I’m a regular person at the end of the day, and charismatic, so connecting with people was easy as well. I had to shift my focus from being in the streets to building my career. I had a song with Nicki Minaj when I was 18, which was five or six years ago, but I’ve only been a millionaire for two.
December 13, 2018 at 07:01PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs