GMK has been through hell and back, and he’s here to tell his story through his music. From multiple run-ins with the law to experiencing mistreatment behind bars, the rising star creates his own version of heartfelt, pain music, speaking nothing but the truth in all his songs.
Originally hailing from Jacksonville, Florida but now based in Houston, Texas, GMK is excited as ever to be releasing his highly-anticipated debut album titled Born To Be Free.
The 15-track project features standout appearances from Future, Toosii, and frequent collaborator Yungeen Ace. It’s also home to previous singles “Get Back” feat. Lil Kooley, “Free Ksoo” featuring Backstreet TK and JayDaYoungan, and “Letter To Yasir.”
Speaking on the project, GMK states, “I want people to listen with an open mind, listen to the lyrics. Take every song for itself, because every song delivers a different message. All the messages accumulated still deliver the same message, Born To Be Free. Tap in and think about that when you vibing. But most of all, enjoy the music. Because that’s what I do it for.”
AllHipHop spoke with GMK to discuss the new project, the cover art, the making of “Free Ksoo,” collaborating with Future, “Hood Vet” with Yungeen Ace, and more!
AllHipHop: How are you feeling? Happy release day!
GMK: I appreciate you, I’m feeling good. I keep refreshing and it keeps going up, so it’s doing what it’s supposed to. It’s been a long time coming.
AllHipHop: You’ve been working on this since you got released on October 1st, 2021. How’s it feel to have it out?
GMK: I feel the progress, I see the progress so it feels good. But I still don’t feel complete. I’m still not out of that grind mode, I’m still not out of that drive mode. I’m still turning up. I’m already thinking about when I’m going to get back in the studio, what my next project gon’ be. I’m ready to grow. I want to snowball this s###.
AllHipHop: Why’d you call it Born To Be Free?
GMK: That was a logic that I came up with, going through all the s### that I went through in life. At the end of the day, regardless of what nobody was going through, regardless of our different perspectives on situations, everybody’s born to be free. We gon’ thrive the best when we’re in our freest environments. That won’t always be physically, sometimes that be mentally. Wherever you free at, wherever you thrive at, wherever you prosper. Everybody’s born to be free, just have their own s### going on.
AllHipHop: What’s the meaning behind the cover art?
GMK: The cover art was so meaningful to me. They’re both me. The way that the cover art was made I basically took half of my mugshot and half of a more recent photo to show the contrast. I had it with a lot of memories. If you look at the middle left, that’s my little brother. He got 17 right now. That’s who I be talking about. You got the bottom left, that’s one of my homeboys. He passed away. Bottom right, you got Ksoo. Middle right, you got my son. My first son I had when I came home. Top left, you got a picture of me on a video visit when I was doing 23 hour lockdown in the box. Top right, you got a most recent photoshoot that I had. You see the jewelry, you see everything. I did that to show now from then, n*gga had to go through a lot.
AllHipHop: I want to touch on “Free Ksoo” real quick. I was watching the music video and it was so crazy to see him being handled like that by the correction officers.
GMK: That’s a b#### ass officer though. That b#### ass officer was in there with me when Ksoo and I was in the room together. He’s inhumane, they know what’s going on in there. They overlook it because they feel like we got it good or some s###. Because they see who you is, they see what you done made. But they don’t know what you’ve been through to get through that. They see you in there and feel like you got clout or you’re a rapper, and they try to make an example out of you.
AllHipHop: What was Ksoo’s reaction to the song?
GMK: Ksoo loves the song and the video going dumb, we about to hit million in under a month. Ksoo loves that s###. At the end of the day, he going through what he going through, but he got high spirits. Everything’s looking good.
AllHipHop: Talk about having JayDaYoungan in the video too.
GMK: Okay, so JayDaYoungan himself wasn’t in the video. What happened was, that’s JayDaYoungan’s brother. Me and Jay were gonna make the “Free Ksoo” song, we had locked in the studio. Unfortunately, we had to leave earlier. Me and Jay was talking throughout that week, he was supposed to come back out and finish it. We had literally started the song a week before he passed. He never got the opportunity to finish it.
All he had was me and him going back at first. We still wanted to produce the “Free Ksoo” song and push that, and now it’s meaningful because it’s Forever 23. We’re going to put it all together and send it that way with a bang. I’m thinking who will be best for it? Who better than Ksoo’s blood cousin, my main man. I put my spin on it, all of us did our thing. Whenever we get together, the songs go down like that.
AllHipHop: Someone said they love the whole album, it’s a masterpiece.
GMK: Nah for real for real. It took me a long time to make an album. A lot of songs were written without no beat. I just dropped the video for “Out For The Season,” I wrote that I wrote that whole song in the box. Without no beat, without nothing. I just wrote it with a pen.
AllHipHop: How do you find the beat afterwards?
GMK: By the grace of God. It be so hard to find it, that’s what be taking so long for the tape. I be taking so long. They send me beatpacks, I’m scrolling through the beats. I’m trying to see what fits, but I ain’t gon’ force nothing. I gotta feel it.
AllHipHop: Definitely want to touch on “Dark Days” with Future.
GMK: I f### with that track. To me, that was one of the most significant tracks I had made because it was something I had waited a minute for. I ended up being in the studio with Future. I was listening to my music, he was showing me s###. This right before he dropped his last project. He was showing me some songs the week before they had dropped. He playing music, I’m playing mine. When I get to playing mine, “Dark Days” came across. It was a song I already had complete, but he said “load it up, I want to put something on this.” I loaded it up, his engineer cooked it all up and got it right. Opened a verse for him and he slid.
AllHipHop: How did y’all tap in in the first place?
GMK: Through Scooter. I f### with Scooter for real for real. I f### with Scooter in general, whether it’s on some studio s### or not. If I’m in the same city with bruh, we tap in. I pull up.
AllHipHop: What about “If I Called” with Toosii?
GMK: We already knew who each other was, but Toosii showed love when I came home, definitely. I always had f##### with his style of music. I f### with more that melody too sometimes, so I really wanted to tap in with that. I ended up getting that sample beat sent to me. When I did that, I knew what it was. Off the bat when I made it, I said oh yeah, I need to put Toosii on this b####. I sent it to him, then we ended up being in the studio together in Atlanta one day. He hopped on the verse and we made it.
AllHipHop: Do you have a favorite song on the album? I know they probably change every day.
GMK: It’d definitely one of the melody songs. It’ll probably be out of “Out For The Season” or “Letter to Yasir.”
AllHipHop: I love “Letter to Yasir,” That video was so beautiful.
GMK: That’s what I’ve been on lately. I’ve been doing my run and guns. All my videos, I want to be more personal. I don’t want everything to be me performing and singing songs. I want people to see what I’m talking about and feel my perspective, so that’s what I tried to do for “Out For The Season.” Show people know where I was from, everything like my family.
AllHipHop: You and Yungeen Ace have bangers on bangers, but talk about “Hood Vet.” Was that just one of them ones you guys made?
GMK: That’s crazy because me and Ace just got off the phone talking about “Hood Vet.” I might end up shooting a video to that. This was towards the beginning when I first came home, so I wasn’t really booking a whole lot of sessions. Ace was working on his All On Me tape at the time, so we was in the studio every night. I’d pull up and be vibing. But I hop on the mic every once in a while. If he got a little block, I might try to lay some s###.
I was more so listening to beats and trying s###. I just felt the beat. I don’t even be high in the studio, just feeling s###. I felt the beat and that’s what I produced, he hopped right on it. We made that song in under an hour, but it’s a great song. At the time, it was definitely one of my top 5 songs. As the months go by, I feel I make better songs, new songs every day. But it’s a great ass song. Everything on the tape is pressure.
AllHipHop: Ace said this is your first project ever?
GMK: Yeah, this is my first project that I ever dropped, ever. I’ve never dropped a mass collection of music.
AllHipHop: Why is that?
GMK: Just circumstances. Anytime I was building up or I had an idea for a project, life had obstacles in the way. I come home or whenever I overcome whatever I overcome, now I got a whole new idea for the project. I already had it to myself. In the room, I sat there with me and Ksoo. I said I’m a make my s###, I’m a call my album Born To Be Free. We’re like that’s a bet. He’s like “that s### raw.” [laughs] See but as far as this mug shot right here, I was trying to obtain my juvenile mugshot. I had a mugshot from when I was 14, but I wasn’t able to get it. Just legal issues, so I went with the next best choice.
AllHipHop: What was GMK like at 14?
GMK: GMK at 11…hmmm. Like a little parana or some s###. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Yungeen Ace said he can’t wait for you to reach your full potential. Where do you see your full potential? What does that look like?
GMK: I don’t know, I know it’s up though. I gotta see which way Allah takes me, but I’m happy with how far I made it right now too. I’m not satisfied, but I’m happy. I’m ready to keep leveling up, keep progressing. This the first tape and look how that s### turned out, off the muscle. Everything on the tape off the muscle. It wasn’t no label s###, it wasn’t no payments or nothing. Everybody was showing me love, I was showing them love. They locked in, it was all a vibe. Everything was creative ability.