G Herbo is only 22-years old, but he’s already seen and accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. Formerly known as Lil Herb, the rap prodigy hails from a neighborhood in Chicago’s South Shore known as Terror Town, named for its high rate of violent crime. When he was only 17 years old, Herb himself was a victim of one of these crimes, after a drive-by shooting left him with a bullet through his foot.
“It wasn’t my first encounter with bullets, guns or shootings,” Herb said in a subsequent interview. “It’s normal. Life goes on and I just try to move past it.”
Five years later, Herb has gone on three tours, put out a merch line, released five mixtapes, appeared on tracks with everyone from Earl Sweatshirt to Nicki Minaj, and was even named the honorary principal of a Chicago high school in recognition of his work with the youth.
In September, G Herbo will drop his debut album Humble Beast and then head out on tour. PRØHBTD caught up with Herb in Chicago to talk about the new record, what it’s like growing up in Terror Town and how he’s giving back to the kids.
You’ve put out five mixtapes in as many years. How is Humble Beast going to be different?
This album is going to be different, but it's still going to be the same. It's going to be unique. It's my debut album, so it's really my opportunity to show who I am to the world. It's going to show growth from where I come from—there's people who don't know who Lil Herb was. They can go back to my old mixtapes and see what I did. What I've been through to get to where I am. I'm gonna put it all out there, leave it all on the track. It's my baby, it’s what's special to me. It's gotta be perfect.
How did your experiences growing up in Terror Town shape your music and career?
It's different in a lot of ways. People who grew up in different areas haven't had to witness the things I have. I feel like I wouldn't be the man who I am right now if I wasn't from where I'm from. I've witnessed a lot. I don't even really know how to explain it. People from Chicago stand out anywhere. You could put a person from Chicago anywhere on Earth, and they'd be able to maintain. You can't do that with anyone else.
You were working with youth in Chicago in schools. Are you still doing that?
Yeah man, of course. It's really just the beginning. The more I grew, the more I wanted to be able to give back to the youth. Especially in my city. It's not even music. There's so much going on in Chicago, man, it's just really about being a mentor. Guiding them, helping them make the right decisions through life. Music is one thing, and they love the music. I've touched them in a whole other way through my music, and they get that.
Who are you listening to now?
I like everything that's going on in Chicago right now, so many different artists like Bibby, Durk, Chance—everyone's got their own style. I listen to everybody, though, because you feel different everyday. I listen to everybody, all my peers: Yachty, Uzi, literally everybody.
What is the Chicagohip-hop scene like right now?
Chicago is good as far as hip-hop goes, period. There's a spotlight on Chicago. I feel like anybody who works hard and is consistent can make it. You gotta have talent, but also hard work on top of that.
You recently did a merch line that sold out immediately. Was that your first foray into clothing design?
I never really put out any merch so the fans were always waiting on that from day one. So as soon as I dropped it, they just jumped right on it. I had my input for the design—it couldn't be anything that I wouldn't wear. I want to be comfortable in my own shit. But as far as designers went, you gotta find someone who you trust and who can go with the flow so I can focus on music.
What are your touring plans after the album drops?
Definitely going on tour, the Humble Beast tour is going to be crazy. My first three tours I went on were super crazy and good. I got my feet wet with touring. But this is going to be on a whole other level. It's going to show my growth as an artist, performer and entertainer. It's going to be fun. I can't wait.
What's up with No Limitations, the album you’re doing with Lil Bibby?
We got a bunch of songs. Everytime we get together we record music. That's not the problem. We just need to be in the same spot and focus on the project, do the promos, shoot all the videos. It's going to be something special. We've known each other for over 10 years, and we ain't nothin’ but 20. Shit, we knew each other way before rapping. Bibby was one of my closest friends growing up, my best friend. This is our first album together so of course it's going to be crazy.
Inline photo credit: Bryan Lamb.