Rittz / King Lil G
Zac Ivie, JR Trill
536 West 100 South
Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
Watch & Listen
The Atlanta metropolitan area stretches on for at least 30 miles beyond the Georgia Dome and the World of Coke. Peachtree Street (conspicuously void of actual peach trees) stretches up through several counties, changing its name a number of times, confusing the tourists and the transplants. Furthest to the north of the metro area, sits Gwinnett County; sprawling and well-populated by a mix of out-of-towners hoping to indulge in a slice of that oft-mentioned American Pie: a house in a subdivision with a yard for the kids. After closer observation though, it’s apparent that the suburbs of Gwinnett are the digs to many who don’t fit the cookie cutter, Stepford lifestyle. The county, more frequently being referred to as the Northside, boasts both million dollar homes on golf courses as well as drug hubs in neighborhoods riddled with gang activity. The Northside, essentially, is in stark contradiction to itself. Rapper Rittz is the Northside.
Raised in Gwinnett County, Rittz embodies the same level of irony and self-conflict as his hometown. Born into a musical family, he, his twin sister and their brother had always been exposed to the inner workings of music. The fact that their parents were heavily into rock and roll ensured that the kids were always around instruments or in studios. The family moved from small-town Pennsylvania (Waynesburg) to the Atlanta outskirts when he was eight years old, and once Rittz got to junior high, his musical tastes evolved. Atlanta’s booming bass and rap movement had traveled north on I-85 to get the entire metro area jumping.
”When I moved here, I was introduced to rap music. When I started rapping, I was listening to any early Rap-A-Lot records, like Willie D, Geto Boys… Kilo [Ali] was like the first. So when I started at 12 years old, my early raps, I tried to rap like them,” he explains, “But the early Outkast, and Goodie Mob was really the beginning of me wanting to rap and imitate them in finding my own style. Me and another guy were actually in a group called Ralo and Rittz [1995-2003], we were like the white Outkast, or we tried to be like that. I had a studio in my basement, and we put out a bunch of tapes in Gwinnett. I felt like we were one of the first, if not the first... There were only maybe one or two other people rapping in Gwinnett at the time, from ’95 to 2000.”
During the earlier part of the millennium though, around 2003, Rittz had hit a wall. After eight years, he and Ralo had matured in different directions. His promising buzz had led to countless disappointments. “I won Battlegrounds on Hot 107.9, got retired and shit and felt like I was ‘bout to make it. But, so many industry up and downs, with managers, contracts…” He was dead broke, feeling dejected, and living with friends- ready to resign from the rap game before even taking his rightful place in it. It wasn’t until 2009 when he’d randomly received a call from another flamespitter who was repping an area as under-the-radar as Gwinnett was. “I had some money behind me.” Rittz says, “Everything was going good and then everything fell out, at the same time, I’m getting older, thinking it’s time to hang it up. This isn’t gonna happen and that’s when Yelawolf put me on ‘Box Chevy.’ [on Yelawolf’s Trunk Muzik].”
Nowadays, the rap career of Gwinnett-raised Rittz is rapidly on the rise. From his affliation with one of the hottest new rappers coming out of the South to his first mixtape, Rittz White Jesus (hilariously inspired by a friend’s term of endearment), everything is coming together now, two years after he nearly lost everything. These days he’s booking late night studio sessions, and still clocking in to work early the next day. “I see both sides: the regular, working class type shit and then I’ve also seen a lot of the street shit that goes on here, some people that are blind to that here, may never have seen it.” Rittz says he’s “just a normal guy who raps”- a contradiction if there ever was one- but he makes you believe, with the humility of the everyman and the talent of a superstar.
King Lil G
On the surface, King Lil G is a rebel. He's been involved in gangs, he's been arrested and served time, he fathered a child before adulthood, he dropped out of school and, to match his record, his body is covered in tattoos. But beyond his troubled past and rough exterior, G is a true artist with a message of HOPE.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California by his single Mexican mother, King Lil G turned to the streets shortly after his parents divorced when he was 12. Soon enough, gang activity would catch up with him, landing him in Juvenile Hall and then house arrest. But G didn't let the imprisonment discourage him, instead, he used the time to reflect, finding solace in writing rhymes.
Inspired by his own struggles, trials and tribulations that had shaped him, G looked no further than his own life for material. With no formal training or music background, he began to self-teach and, as a result, master the art of storytelling in its most raw, honest and simplest form of wordsmithing. Additionally, he was influenced by the G-funk flavor of 90s West Coast rap about women, weed and palm trees, especially that of California hip-hop staples Snoop Dogg, Too $hort and Dr. Dre, among others, as well as Mexican folk ballads called corridos music and the passion and emotion of one of his all-time favorites, Tupac.
"I wanted to rap about the struggle - real street stuff that I was going through," says King Lil G of his gangster hip-hop sound. "I also started reading, including a book called Quotationary (Leonard Roy Frank)… [which] inspired me to write a lot of the songs I write now. It taught me a lot about friends, women and family."
And, in the bigger scheme of things, G hoped to inspire others to stray away from committing some of the same mistakes he made and instead strive to achieve their goals and dreams, just as he was attempting to do then. His mentality was, and continues to be, if he can make it so can anyone. Furthermore, if he can use his platform, however small or big it may be, to help others, then that's exactly what he plans to do.
"There are so many things I want to do, but to begin with I want to do a lot of things for kids… not just the kids that aren't healthy, but how about kids that have no hope?" G explains. "The ones that can get help but don't have money and parents don't know a way to help them out. I want to be that person."
With this goal in mind, Lil G compiled a slew of his best music and released it via the mixtape Blue Devil 2 in 2011CK, followed by his second release, King Enemy, in 2012CK, and before he knew it, he had gained a sizable viral buzz and hardcore, loyal fan base (currently he has over 22k followers on Twitter, over 161k likes on Facebook, 72k subscribers to his YouTube channel and 80k followers on Instagram).
He began performing locally while quietly building an army of fans across the country. Today, he's selling out performances around the country. His fans came in a myriad of colors and shapes, from Mexicans to Whites to Blacks and others, and his word began to make its round and stick with even the unlikeliest of listener. He made the hopeless feel hopeful and the grittiest of gang banger feel like today was a better day, maybe even good enough to put the gun down and seek a different path, a more positive one, much like G did.
It was this very appeal that made Lil G a hot commodity to labels and, as a result, in 2012 he was scouted by and signed a joint venture deal with MIH Entertainment, LLC. With a bigger machine to help him spread his message of optimism and promise, and motivated by his vastly growing popularity, King Lil G created the Sucio (Spanish for "dirty") Movement, which, in his own words, is "a positive movement that has to do with freedom and not being afraid to accomplish and do things… it's empowerment for those that don't think they can make it and come from nothing."
Similarly, his latest project, AK47Boyz, hopes to motivate and inspire. Unlike what might initially come to mind when reading the title, the reference to an AK 47 riffle represents "power and knowledge," says G. "It means do whatever you want. When you figure out that person out there is not smarter than you yet that person is doing great things, you will see that you can, too. This is what I want to open people's eyes to."
Released last March, AK47Boyz is his most well-received album to date; it's been downloaded over 50,000 times on Datpiff.com, with 140k views to date. Songs like Hopeless Boy, a true-to-life depiction of his bout with drug dealing and going through financial hardships, finds King Lil G rapping, "Motherfucker, I had guns in my mother's closet, the day she caught me, tear drops started falling / then she slapped me in the face, looking broken-hearted, how the fuck do I explain that my hood is stronger?" over a looping snare and static drums by NutKase. An accompanying video was shot and will be released soon.
El Alpachino, with a church-like chorus topped by double-speed drums helmed by Five Oh Trez, compares G's own life to that of the character of Al Pacino from the movie Scarface. "He came from nothing and made his story happen by linking with people," explains G. "Like when he was working at the sandwich shop and then built his way up – that's my life and a lot of people can relate to that."
Meanwhile, there's Love Kills, a sexy number about unfaithfulness and relationship woes, atop a galactic production by AAP Jermz Jedi Keyz and featuring Krypto, and Joey and Jasmine, "a song that teaches the difference between a hoe and a good woman," says G bluntly. Other producers include Drummer Boy and Lewis Parker and guest appearances from David Ortiz and LA Gun Smoke, among others.
"I want to make music with a purpose," closes King Lil G. "I want to inspire others. It'd be beautiful. How much of a difference would it make if a hardcore gang member would be like, 'let's not kill today, let's change our lives'? As my career goes on, I want to keep pushing this positive vibe… and if I start helping others, that will make me successful."
Music saved King Lil G. Now, the reality rapper is ready to pay it forward.
$26 ADV / $30 DOS
Sat, November 17
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