You just released your video for “Honor Me”. Are you happy with the feedback you’ve received so far?
Everybody is a rapper nowadays, so everybody is going to think they’re better than you. There’s going to be people up there saying negative stuff again. I chew it up and then spit it out into something positive.
What inspired you to write “Honor Me”?
(quotes “Honor Me”) “When Freddie got killed I felt nothing but guilt.” I had to get that off my chest. I had to paint the picture about what it was really like growing up in Southside Chicago and not make these things seem like it was something cool to do. I want people to understand the consequences of their actions if you move outside of the guidelines. I try to tell people to focus. Everybody wants to grow and everybody wants to prosper, but if they see you on TV or in the magazines, they think, ‘Oh, this dude really made it,’ but there are so many things that came before this point that let me get here.
Are you ever surprised at where you are in the game today?
I wouldn’t say “surprised” because I always believed in myself. I’m happy at the rate that it’s going because a few years back, everyone wasn’t really feeling GLC like they’re feeling GLC today. There’s been growth. Some people, they try something and they don’t make it or they don’t get the responses that they want and they say, “Maybe this isn’t for me.” Me, I’m finna raise the bar. I’m like AT&T. I’m finna raise the bar.
It was dope how you referenced Freddie in “Honor Me”, which was a Curtis Mayfield song (“Freddie’s Dead”). What kind of an impact did Curtis Mayfield have on you?
Him being from Chicago and all, he was compelling. It makes me want to raise the bar on my storytelling songs. He makes me want to paint that picture, that sort of picture. He’s one of my idols and one of my biggest influences on my music how his music was so soulful and it was so street at the same time and he was embraced by everybody. He was definitely a pioneer to the city of Chicago as well as to the music industry. When he’s telling his story, I can see everything he’s saying. I try to make people see what I’m saying. You know how people say in a conversation all the time, “See what I’m saying?” I paint those pictures when I get in the studio.
Curtis Mayfield was also known for having an incredible grind, as he recorded his album New World Order on his back due to paralysis. How hard is your grind today?
Due to the fact that I haven’t had a really big push from my record label, man, my grind is out there. My grind is like those Columbian coffee commercials. I’m really on it, man. I’m really making it happen. Like, some people can sit around and wait for someone to say, “Hey, let’s go.” I’ve never been a sitdown man. I’m a standup guy. I have to make my day come. There wouldn’t have been a Dr. Martin Luther King if he had just sat around. And that’s what I’m on.
Has it been hard waiting for a release date and a major push from Good Music?
Well, in all honesty, it really hasn’t been because the love that I’ve been getting has been making me very happy and it’s been making me work even harder. I’m sort of doing my thing from the ground up. I’ve had a few major appearances and those were wonderful. Some of the best things to happen to me in my life was to be on Kanye West’s first two albums, but when you’re signed to an artist and that artist is No. 1, his focus is on staying No. 1. That’s what he has to do. So what are you going to do? Are you just going to sit around and chill and wait until you get your chance? Hell no. You have to grow and develop. I always tell people, there are three kinds of people in this world – there are people who sit back and ask what happened, there are people who sit back and watch things happen and then there are other people who sit back and make things happen. And I’m that person.
Have you been able to make the necessary moves to be successful without having a major label budget?
Well, in all honesty, I’ve been growing and developing just off of my main grind and due to the fact that I did sign a record deal and I did get a little paper, but when I did get that paper early on, I was like, ‘Hey, I got paper!’ I was going hard. I was traveling and I was going on tour and I was seeing the world. I was seeing new things and it felt really good, but now that I’ve been in the game and I’ve sat back and I’ve watched other people’s mistakes, I’ve learned from that.
Some people say that experience is the best teacher and some people have an ability to learn from what they see. In my neighborhood where I grew up, there was a guy who was very good with electronics. He began smoking crack and the next thing you know, he was climbing up a pole in my alley to hook up my cable for $10. I knew then that I wasn’t going to smoke crack. There are things that some people do that are profitable and lucrative and I focus on that too. I don’t just focus on where people went wrong. I thrive off of that and it allows me to grow and develop.
In “Honor Me”, you detail your struggle and come-up. How important was it to you to get that truth out there?
Man, that’s all I know how to do, speak the truth. I’ve never been one of those fictitious rappers. I’ve never been that type of person. If I tried to do that with the music, the people would see right through it. The type of man that I am, a man of honor, a man of respect, a man of morals, respect and dignity, if I apply that to my music, how can I lose? Plus I’m a little slick and I got some street smarts. I got knowledge, wisdom and understanding. I was really there. That’s why people embrace GLC because I speak with conviction. When you hear my music and when you listen to what I’m saying, you don’t question it like, ‘Man, I don’t believe this.’ You embrace my concepts because I present it in a way that leaves you no options. I don’t come off like, ‘Oh, I got 50 Bentley’s’ because I don’t have that and when I do get that, I probably still won’t rap about that because there’s an untold story in Chicago that people need to be exposed to. I expose the people to the stuff they fail to see.
How have you been using this time as you wait to come out to grow as an artist?
Oh, man, it’s been wonderful because a lot of people look at me like I’m not a new artist. I’m a new artist. I don’t even have an album out. I’ve had a few features, but people come up to me and ask me when my new album is coming out. People even come up to me and tell me they have my last album and when is my next album coming out. Man, I’ve never had an album come out. It’s good that they’re anticipating it though. I’m a man and I’m a child of God and I’ve really grown intellectually, so the way that I present myself is a little more articulate than how I was before because I’ve really progressed as a person. I’m able to paint a brighter picture and expose people to new horizons.
You’re dropping a new mixtape I Ain’t Even On Yet. What is this project saying about you?
What made me make this project, man, was the fact that I ain’t even on yet. It’s the fact that people, they look at me and they see that I’ve done a record with Kanye and I’ve been on world tours and I’ve been on this and that. Those are the types of things that I’m hearing and I’m like, ‘Damn, this is how y’all feel? And I ain’t even on yet. When I get on, you’re going to really see what it is.’ I’m honored that people really honor and respect what I say.
The people really want to hear me talk. It makes me feel good, bro, because I’m not going to mislead you and there’s so much bullshit in the world, man. We need somebody to come out and tell the truth about what it is. I never glorify the things that I did in my past if they were conceived as negative, but I always had a reason. I never did anything for no reason at all and I really do believe in cause and effect –because you did this, this will happen to you. Because you did this, great things will happen to you. You have to always be aware of your environment and you have to always be aware to everything that is going on around you.
Putting truth, positivity and emotion into music is definitely something that’s easier said than done.
Yeah, it definitely is, but through the grace of God, I have a magnetic personality and I can draw the people to me. I have a choice now. I have an option where I can draw you to me and I can mislead you or I can draw you to me and I can lead you to something good. I want to see people grow. That’s my main thing. I love to see growth. When you plant a seed, it’s small, but once it grows, you’re feeling great because you saw the progress and now it can nourish you. I nourish your brain. I’m honored. I’m just glad that people can see GLC. I’m like a voice of reason. I am the evolution of a G.
How is your debut album Welcome to Haterville coming?
Man, it’s been coming really, really, really great, man. I’ve been told by a few industry execs as well as people that love me that it’s a classic, man. When it comes, oh, man, I truly, I know for a fact that people won’t be disappointed. I know that once they hear my album, they won’t be disappointed. I know that it’s going to open up a lot of people’s minds. I’m really exercising my G on my album and I’m really exercising my game and my knowledge and my wisdom and understanding that I came up with over the years.
You’ve been working with DJ A-Trak for awhile now. How is he helping your album?
Oh, man, A-Trak has been on point, man. I really value his opinion because he’s a 5 time world-champion DJ. He has an extremely good ear for the music and he has an extremely good ear for what works. He knows. I’ve been getting A+’s from A-Trak. That’s been a beautiful thing, man.
How involved has Kanye West been involved in your album Welcome to Haterville?
In all honesty, he’s not going to stand over your shoulder while you make your album. He’s not going to do that. That’s not his style. He’ll ask you to play him your shit and he’ll let you know if he likes it or not. It’s kind of like big brother style or drill sergeant style. It’s like, put your shit down and go. Kanye doesn’t stand over you and tell you what to do and what not to do. Once you do you, you can holler at him and he’ll give you his words of wisdom. He might tell you that you need some strings on this one and he’ll give you pointers. He’s a crossover exception. He really knows how to reach the masses. If you take him along with the street edge that I have, man, there’s no way that I can fail. I’m going to mean to Chicago what Snoop Dogg meant to L.A. and Long Beach and like what Bone Thugs N Harmony meant to Cleveland. Not only is it going to be the streets but the people from Chicago are going to be like, ‘Yes, wow,’ like I’m the chosen one. Someone said I was the chosen one on YouTube and that made my day. I went in the studio and recorded three songs that day!
That’s crazy. Just from knowing you over the years, it doesn’t seem like you’re the type of person who wants somebody standing over your shoulder while you make an album?
Yeah. I have my own story to tell and I don’t want it to come out being a replica of Kanye West. If I tried that it wouldn’t work. That’s not who I am. GLC is a man in his own right. He’s a man of vision and my visions aren’t the same as my man’s vision on a lot of different things, but there are a lot of similarities as well. When I give the people something different, that’s going to be what it is. When he came out on Rocafella, he was the only one doing what he was doing on Rocafella. That’s sort of like my situation on Good Music.
There were rumors at one point that you and Kanye weren’t on the same page. Was there ever any truth to those rumors?
Oh, no, man. Kanye’s my best friend. I love him. That’s my best friend. That’s my man. I ride for that brother. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that. Creative differences occur when it’s two different artists doing two different things, but that wasn’t the case at all. He changed my life. I wasn’t happy with Sony and when our music was distributed through Sony. I was very unhappy, but all the people I was unhappy with, they no longer work for the company. That wasn’t like it was me and Kanye. That was like it was with the record label. Now I got friends with Sony and I’m very cool with them.
What are you doing to not get caught up in the label politics that so many artists are getting caught up in now?
Man, I’m doing me. GLC is building a brand. A brand can go a long way. I’m one of those artists where the people want to actually be a fan of me and not be a fan of one of my songs. People are really going to honor GLC and honor the man and honor the legacy of fulfillment which I am of and building right now.
How’s your cartoon Haterville coming?
I can tell you that Haterville, right now, it’s really piquing the interest of some major networks and Haterville is going to come out and it’s going to be as iconic as The Simpsons and South Park. It’s going to blow people’s minds. I’m very excited about that. People were like, ‘What would you be doing if you weren’t rapping?’ I was like, ‘Man, I would be doing my cartoon or my t-shirt line or I would be acting.’ I’m about to do a movie. I’m doing things. GLC feels great, as well as the music, which is constantly getting me approval. It’s constantly getting me high marks from the people. That makes me feel well that I’m growing and developing in more than one area and aspect of my talents. It’s definitely a blessing, especially with how the music industry is.
My whole thing is that if you build a brand as an artist and your career is not just based on one song that you made and you don’t give a flying fuck about who you are, then you’re not going to have a future in this thing. People have been watching my growth over the years. When my album comes out, they’re going to see how I grew. And I’m also giving people hope because they saw me grow from square one. I wasn’t just something that was put together and thrown in their face.
You also made an appearance on BET’s American Gangster. How did that come about?
The guy who the story was on as well as his wife and best friend, they all called me and told me they wanted me to do that as well as the producers of the show. They called me and they wanted me to do it and I did it. That’s what it was. I’ve known the family for years, since my teenage years and they watched me grow. They watched me grow and they watched me prosper and they watched me gain and, man, I’m like a posterchild for something that was once corrupt and terrible and I made something positive out of it.
The story was on Larry Hoover. They don’t really be having rappers on there. I was on there because of my past life and the fact that I have really evolved. Like I say, GLC is the evolution of a G. I evolved from one thing to the next and I’ve been fortunate enough that it’s been something great. All the pieces of the young man are embedded in me, but the thing is, all the things from that, I just apply them to certain situations and I’m very happy. Life has been great, man.
What’s the next move for GLC?
The next move is the mixtape that I’m dropping this year as well as my album. My album will be out this summer as well as my album Love, Life and Loyalty as well as my Haterville cartoon as well as my t-shirt line which is called The Concept as well as my movie that I’m doing based on a Chicago basketball player. He was the No. 1 high school basketball player in 1984. His name was Dan Wilson and he bumped into somebody and got killed. It was crazy. I’m working on these records and giving hope to these kids that they can win if you apply yourself. Don’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. Make things happen.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I thank y’all for taking your time to read this interview about me. I thank y’all for giving a damn because there are so many other things that you could have been doing right now and you took the time to read this. Go to my MySpace and check out my interviews. You can even see the footage of when I was on American Gangster.