GLC: Heaven Knows

I n the Hip-Hop world, a memorable cameo appearance and endorsements from A-List artists can be both a gift and a curse. After impressive guest spots alongside one-time mentors on EPMD’s “Hardcore” and Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover,” Redman and Snoop Dogg respectively proved that artists can parlay a quality 16-bar verse into a successful solo […]

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n the Hip-Hop world, a memorable cameo appearance and endorsements from A-List artists can be both a gift and a curse. After impressive guest spots alongside one-time mentors on EPMD’s “Hardcore” and Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover,” Redman and Snoop Dogg respectively proved that artists can parlay a quality 16-bar verse into a successful solo career. Less fortunate acts who couldn’t execute the strategy as well became the subject of barbershop gossip, or worse yet, were forced to go back to their day jobs.

Enter GLC. After scene-stealing performances on Kanye West’s “Spaceship” and alongside Paul Wall on Late Registration’s “Drive Slow,” GLC has his sights set on being much more than The Louis Vuitton Don’s right-hand man. The self-proclaimed “bad seed of G.O.O.D. Music” is taking a proactive approach by bringing his message to the masses in the form of a new mixtape, “Kanye West Presents: DJ A-Trak and GLC-Drive Slow.” Over ten years after Kanye told him to embark on a solo career, GLC explains what took so him so long, and how his newfound celebrity has changed his life with an insight that contradicts what some listeners may have become accustomed to in his feature performances. Everyone came to know you by guest starring on Kanye’s solo projects, how did you two hook up?

GLC: We’ve been homies since we were 15, man. Since 1993, we’ve been tight. That’s my mellow, he’s like my brother, straight up. You and Kanye go way back, before you two were in the group The Go Getters together you were rapping under the name Ab-ski, right?

GLC: Yeah, that’s what they used to call me, I was trying to have a motherf**kin’ rapper name ’cause they were already calling me Gangsta’ L since I was a GD [Gangster Disciple]. Then I was like, “I need to try to find a Hip-Hop name,” so I picked Ab-ski for abstract skills and said, “F**k it.” I just thought it sounded really Hip-Hop, writing raps kept me out of a lot of trouble when I could’ve been out doing all kind of other crazy ass s**t. In some instances, I did do other s**t too when I was f**king up and doing the wrong thing. How did being in the GD’s, The Black Panther influence and the rest of the Chicago scene affect your sound?

GLC: I grew up under these laws and policies; people are always thinking gangs are negative due to what is portrayed on TV. They only show the negative s**t, so I can’t knock them for thinking that. Really though, it was the s**t that I learned from my brother, he wasn’t a GD, but he was a dude that was going to colleges speaking about positivity, and the upliftment of African people. Now with the GD’s I learned s**t like The Five P’s, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” and I apply that to my everyday life. It’s like how people are always saying, “Stay ready so you never have to get ready,” The Five P’s take care of that. And if I add love, life and loyalty-love is the source of life, without love there ain’t s**t, and without life there can be no love or loyalty. Do you think the media are the only ones responsible for that negative perception?

GLC: When that crack hit, that f**ked up a whole lot of s**t, man. When Reagan put that crack in our hood, that s**t made motherf**kers say, “F**k this s**t! Why would I go to school or try to be like Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan when little Mike from up the street is getting paper? I can touch this man and I can shake his hand. It was good to want to be like Mike with the Gatorade and stuff, you know positive role models is something that we always needed. But, when you see a man change his whole family’s life off of street s**t, off of hustling and he’s not working a nine-to-five and probably didn’t finish high school, it looks easy. That makes you want to take the easy way out, but the violence really got worse when that crack hit. After that it wasn’t just about a motherf**ker having his hat broke off or this or that, it was mainly about that money. When they say that money is the root of all evil that s**t is not fictitious, it’s serious baby. Speaking of hustling, what enables you to speak so freely about personal subjects like hustling, or the loss of your mother?

GLC: That’s the only way I don’t go crazy. If I kept all of this s**t to myself like [having] diabetes, losing my momma, losing several friends, going to funerals like it was motherf**king Sunday school, I’d be sitting up in a mental hospital. I talk about it without going so far in depth as to incriminate myself or someone else, because I’m not stupid – but the bottom line is that if I didn’t talk about it I’d probably be f**ked up somewhere. This s**t is a bit disturbing.

I truly believe that a man can make that transformation, there have been times where I’ve been face-to-face with death and all kinds of ill situations, I’ve got homies locked away doing 50 years and s**t. When you become a rapper and you talk about the s**t that I’m talking about, you have the responsibility to raise kids. We are now like stepfathers-a lot of us didn’t have fathers so we were raised by N.W.A., Rambo, Commando, Hulk Hogan or whoever was the baddest motherf**ker around. Nino Brown, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and them raised a lot of us and they don’t even know it. So my whole thing is, with this music, I’ve gotta’ raise these kids ‘cause these shorties are looking at us the way we looked at all those other people. When I address certain subjects, it’s history not glorification. I ain’t trying to glorify s**t that I did, because I’m not proud of a lot of that. But, I was proud when I was able to put some shoes on my nephew’s feet and make sure that his family had a big ass supper for Thanksgiving. That’s where I felt the joy, the joy wasn’t from the hustle -– that was just the rush, just the excitement. It’s a cause and effect thing; because I chose to hustle the effect was I went to jail, or it could be because I chose to hustle I was able to put food on the table. It sounded like you were playfully taking a shot at Kanye on “Drive Slow” about having too many TV’s in his car.

GLC: “And it don’t make no sense / but baby I’m the s**t / In everything I flick you know it’s something serious.” When you get on your guy and talk about them, that’s just something you do when you love the next man. That’s how we embrace each other, since we’ve been around each other so long. There’s a lot of things that I can relate to because he didn’t grow up under the same circumstances that I did, but for those things he has me. There are also some other things that he’s introduced me to, due to the fact that his mom had him in China and s**t when he was a shorty, since his moms was an English professor. He had been all around the world at a young age, so he’s taught me about different cultures. I learn upper echelon s**t from him and he gets that street, ghetto s**t from me. During an appearance on Total Request Live you mentioned that being on the “MTV Two Dollar Bill” tour, “pushed your lady rating through the roof.”

GLC: Oh hell yeah it did, but the thing is, women always chose me. I was never out here f**ked up and unable to get girls. Women were always fond of the way I carried myself, and maybe my handsomeness had something to do with it as well. Maybe it was this Chi state of mind and that Southside 87th mentality that just worked for me. Now that I’m on TV, it’s a problem, and I just want to be a good dude because I believe in Karma. Maybe it was the fact that when I was a shorty I used to chase after girls, and now that I’m grown it’s coming back to me -– they’re chasing after me. Did things get better or worse after the “Touch The Sky” tour?

GLC: It goes together, they both coincide. You’re on stage where it’s up close and personal and it’s going down because they’re in the crowd and they can touch, see and feel you. Then when you’re on TV that’s another aspect, because TV really means s**t to people, they’re thinking, “Wow he’s on TV!” So, it’s a matter of what us that are on TV are doing with it. Once you’re on TV people just assume you’re getting money. Did you think that at first?

GLC: Yeah, but it’s a big ass responsibility that comes with it. It’s so much s**t about this game that I never even thought of or fathomed that wasn’t explained to me. It’s a whole lot to it, especially growing up in a city like Chicago. G.O.O.D. Music has a wide range of heavy-hitters from Common and John Legend to Sa-Ra, what is going to make you stand out?

GLC: I speak from my heart and my point of view-which is unique, some people may agree with it and some may disagree. It’s just like opinions, opinions are like a#######, everybody’s got them and we all think everyone else’s stinks. I’m expressing my point of view and the principles I grew up under from hanging around the OG’s to hanging around the Chicago Southside streets. I’m going to expose you to this vision of “The ‘Go” that you have somehow failed to see. Other artists that we’ve had like Kanye, Common and John Legend are bright and it shines. My style shines as well, but it’s like I’m the dark angel or the black sheep, I’m the n***a that’s still in the hood with the thugs and s**t. I just came back from my old hood just now ‘cause one of my guys died yesterday. I’m sorry to hear that.

GLC: Yeah, it’s f**ked up, I just came from signing the rest in peace board and putting the candles out there and s**t. Last time I came home from shooting a video and one of my guys died that day. So I’m still here, the hood can still touch me. Although I no longer live here, I come back four or five times a month if possible, every chance I get I’m here. Do you think that it’s a good idea to keep going back, especially considering the recent deaths of Proof and Big Hawk?

GLC: I know motherf**kers are like, “You’re at a good time in your life where you’ve got to separate from the s**t that can bring you down,” but it’s hard to separate from some s**t that you’ve loved all your life. If it was something that I didn’t give a f**k about that would be easy, but these are people that raised me and that I love. We’ve been through the same s**t, like hoopin’ and when I go up for a lay-up hearing bullets hit the pole and s**t. Is there a way to balance that out when showing love to the hood seems to keep backfiring for many artists?

GLC: Sometimes it does backfire, but I balance it out by putting it in God’s hands. You gotta’ have faith and spirituality by getting to know God. That’s some real s**t, that’s my best friend and I talk to him about anything without worrying about him talking about me behind my back or exposing me. He may not agree with everything that I do, but my God is a forgiving God. So, I’m just trying to do what I gotta’ do and lead these kids down a path of righteousness because right now we’re on the eve of destruction baby. As far as the album is concerned, do you have a tentative title or release date?

GLC: It should be out this fall, early fall. Pray for me man ‘cause I hope it’s coming out. We’ve got two different titles that we’re deciding on just depending on how everything flows. We’re either going to call it Love, Life and Loyalty or Welcome To Haterville.