A veteran of the G.O.O.D. Music roster, GLC is best known for his appearances on the songs “Spaceship” and “Drive Slow,” alongside label mate and long-time friend, Kanye West. With a slew of high-profile guest verses, an appearance on the “American Gangster” documentary, and a few world tours under his belt, GLC. is preparing to step from background of his label’s roster into the spotlight.
BallerStatus caught up with him to discuss his upcoming album, Love, Life & Loyalty, Chicago music and gang culture, touring with diabetes, and what a $50 Kanye West beat might sound like.
BallerStatus.com: I read something in your bio that caught me. You describe Chicago as “cold temperatures and cold shoulders.” Elaborate on that. Do you think it’s harder to succeed in Chicago as a hip-hop artist than in other places?
GLC: Aw yeah man, definitely. Only due to the fact that man … the unity. It’s getting better though as we speak, right now. A lot people beginning to embrace other people’s concepts and people are beginning to grow together man. Cause you know Chicago, from day one, it’s been a very segregated city. Perhaps the most segregated city in America. And it’s not only because of race or ethnicity, it’s also due to the gang culture … the street organizations. So it kinda set us back as a whole ’cause the unity wasn’t there. Because this dude’s in this organization or in that organization and it was kinda hard for different people to work with one another just due to their backgrounds. But a lot of us are maturing, growing up, getting wiser and realizing that that ain’t sh** but genocide and something to set us back. So now that we coming together and standing with another and not against one another it’s making things a lot easier.
BallerStatus.com: Let’s talk about the gang culture for a minute. I know you have part of your background coming from the streets, how were you affected by that? I know personally, we had gangs in my school and in my neighborhood and everything…
GLC: The way that I was affected is that it really taught me at early age how to deal with losses. Due to the fact that, you know, a lot of my friends that were affiliated, you know, I lost them due to the gang culture … but it also kinda prepared me for corporate America and the real world and the music industry. ‘Cause it’s cutthroat, it’s a lot of the same things that you learn in the streets and if you apply to this music business, or you apply it to any type of business, then you will excel at it. You know what I’m saying, so I thank God for that. I thank God for the losses that I endured over the years. And I also thank God for the knowledge, the wisdom and the understanding that I picked up from being a part of that whole thing.
BallerStatus.com: Yeah man. We touched on Chicago and the whole cold shoulder thing, is that the inspiration for your “Haterville” cartoon?
GLC: (Laughs) Well yeah man, the “Haterville” cartoon is something crazy man and it really is inspired by the things that I witnessed growing up in Chicago and just different experiences in life. Ways that I’ve seen people deal with certain situations and how a person will look at another person and this and that, just due to where they are economically … where they at in the workforce or if they don’t have a job and this and that … everything. Just a lot of things spawn hatred. But it’s kinda crazy that we found, at the end of the day, ways to make jokes from the sh** and make a mockery of it. As long it didn’t involve bloodshed.
BallerStatus.com: Absolutely. I want to stick with Chicago for a minute. You touched on the fact that Chicago is one of the more segregated cities in the US and I’ve had that same experience with it. How do you think that affects that scene, musically? For instance, Southside hip-hop vs. Westside hip-hop…
GLC: The thing is with the Southside and the Westside … people that grew up on the Southside, they just probably didn’t feel comfortable going to the Westside and vice versa. Only ’cause it was like two different worlds to us. The Westside just had its own, different way of life. It had its own different rules and regulations, different gangs, different beliefs and this and that, and the Southside generally had the same thing. But, as people have gotten older and wiser, that’s starting to deteriorate and people are really beginning to f*** with one another man. So, I don’t even see it as Westside vs. Southside. I can’t say that because we are all one. It’s just some people who are still in the dark and they don’t understand that.
BallerStatus.com: Well I know you’re crossing over ’cause you’re a brother from the Southside and I went to your MySpace page and saw you had a joint with Crucial Conflict.
GLC: Yeah, one of my favorite groups of all-time. They are from the Westside, I’m from the Southside, but they are a group that showed me that I could get on as a rapper coming from Chicago. They came out, they did they thing and they gave me hope man. They inspired me. I honor Crucial Conflict, I honor Psychodrama, I honor Do or Die…
BallerStatus.com: You mentioned Crucial, Psychodrama, and Do or Die, are there any other artists from the Chi that have really influenced you and had an impact on you?
GLC: Man sh**, when I saw Twista on that Adrenaline Rush album cover with a Coogi on. I was like “Damn, that’s something we really do here at the crib.” It made me feel good. Man, I really don’t know what Kanye did ’cause he was a dude that was counted out. People felt like he wasn’t never gonna make it as a rapper, but he did his thing, went real hard. Common for his longevity in the game. It’s unbelievable how long he’s been in the rap game … and he’s still relevant.
BallerStatus.com: Right, in fact, in some ways more relevant than he ever has been before. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line, he became a pop artist, and I mean that in a good way. You mentioned Kanye … I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but how did ya’ll hook up and how did the feature on “Spaceship” come about?
GLC: Aw man, we met through a mutual friend by the name of Andre Frazier. He went to elementary school with Kanye and went to high school with me, but Andre was from my neighborhood. He told me he had a buddy that made beats and he was pretty decent with it. This was back in the early 90s. I go over Kanye’s house, Kanye over there making’ beats back then, he was like 15. And we just kinda connected and bonded and became really good friends over the years man, you know, as he grew, I grew and as I grew, he grew. It’s just been a wonderful ride. The way that “Spaceship” came about was, I told Kanye that I wanted a record that I could have on the radio in Chicago ’cause that just really meant something to me. He was like “Aight,” so he made me that beat. I put my verse on it and he was like “Man that’s gotta go on my album!” So I was like “Aight, cool.” So I was on Kanye’s album (laughs).
BallerStatus.com: So it was originally for your project and he scooped it up?
GLC: Aa hell yeah, but I wasn’t mad ’cause I was on a Grammy Award-winning album. Some people probably would have been like “Man, this some bullsh**!” You know, on some dumb sh**. Me? I’m like, “Yes! Is there anything else you put on your album? It’s all good.”
BallerStatus.com: You’ve known ‘Ye since the early 90s … every producer has those wack beats they made at the start then they get better. So how were the beats back then?
GLC: He was always ahead of his time. Back then he had some sh** … and we thought it was the dopest sh** in the world. Back then he was selling beats for like $50. Some people would bite, other people wouldn’t bite. And those that didn’t bite, I know right now to this day, they probably feel like, damn!
BallerStatus.com: On a personal level, you made the transition from working nine-to-five at clothing stores and street hustling and whatnot to traveling the world and touring and keeping some pretty prestigious company. Was there a single event or a single moment when you looked up and realized, “I’m on my way right now.” If so, tell us about that moment.
GLC: Man, it was back in ’03 when I was able to go on tour with Kanye and Talib Kweli and Common. It was the Electric Circus tour, for Common’s album. I got to meet Kweli and we was in the room freestyling and Kweli heard me freestyling and he was like “Yo, that’s dope.” Then, a few days later on the tour, we was in Montreal, Canada and he was like “Yo, G, you got a verse for me tonight?” And I was like, “Hell yeah.” So I got to perform in Montreal and when I did that sh**, the crowd went crazy man. So, right then and there I was like, “Man, I’m on my way.”
BallerStatus.com: When I first heard of you, I remember wondering what “GLC” stood for. Now I know it’s know it’s “Gangsta L. Crisis.” Break that down for us…
GLC: Man, it’s just my life story. My name is Leonard and I’m leaving a Legacy. It’s Gangsta Legendary Crisis because see the thing is, I lost my father when I was eight months and I lost my mother when I was 12. And people look at that sh** and are like, “Damn that’s a crisis.” Then I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 14. Then I lost my house in a fire. It’s just so many negative things that happened in my life that I made something positive come from. But to the average person that would have just been as a crisis. So now with the whole “GLC,” it’s basically just a matter of how I feel at the time. It could be “Gotta Lotta Cash,” “Getta Lil’ Change,” you know what I’m saying? It could be “Gotta Lotta Chicks,” or…
BallerStatus.com: You mentioned you’ve got diabetes. At the same time, you probably spend a lot of time on tour. How do you maintain your diet and exercise, or whatever you’re doing for your diabetes while you’re out on tour?
GLC: Man, ’cause I wanna live (laughs). That’s how I maintain. It ain’t even no rocket science behind that sh**. If I didn’t do it, I probably wouldn’t be here. I ain’t come out with album yet. After I come out with my album, I might start slacking up a little … nah I’m just playing.
BallerStatus.com: C’mon man, you can’t just hit us with the hot sh** then disappear!
GLC: Nah, I ain’t gonna do that man. I believe God’s got a huge, humongous plan for me man, so I’m gonna continue to stay focused. I eat healthy as hell. I’ll continue to eat healthy, continue to work out, and continue to just stay focused and praise God and do whatever I gotta do to be here. It really ain’t that bad ’cause diabetes got me eating better than I ever ate before. Over the last few years, I really started getting on my sh** how I should have been. But since I’ve been on it now, there ain’t gonna be no stopping me. I’mma be here for a minute.
BallerStatus.com: Glad to hear it. You mentioned you’ve got an album coming out, Love, Life & Loyalty. What can we expect? Break it down, producers, guest features, concepts and all that.
GLC: Ah man, love, life and loyalty. Beautiful things, it’s a wonderful ride man. There’s a story from Chicago that ain’t never really been told in music. [I’ll] expose a lot of different things as far as the city goes … without incriminating anyone, cause you know, we do things on a positive level. I have Kanye West producing on it, Three 6 Mafia, Crucial Conflict, as we mentioned. I have a producer by the name of Kilo Kane out of Chicago. Man, he’s gonna be one of the biggest names in the game very soon, mark my words. I have Million Dollar Mano, he’s one of the hottest producers out the city. Lotta guys you probably have never heard of like The Trailblazers, I gotta lil’ guy by the name of Sean … that’s just his name, “Sean” (Laughs). I don’t even know his producer name, he’s just one of the lil’ guys man. I went and stacked up a lot of guys that people ain’t never heard of that I saw a lot of potential in. Being around Kanye for so long and seeing the growth in him, I’ve got a pretty good ear for music man, and what could be the next hit. So I just thank God that I’m in the situation that I’m in. But what I’m gonna do is just take it these Windy City streets. My album is a soundtrack for the city of Chicago. And not only for the city of Chicago, but it’s sorta like the liaison … introduces the urban side of Chicago to the … un-urban side, you know? The street side to the young urban professional side. From the ground floor up to the penthouse.
BallerStatus.com: Between Kanye, Common, John Legend, Consequence and yourself, it’s obvious there’s a lot of talent on the G.O.O.D. Music roster. With that bar set that high, do you feel a lot of pressure?
GLC: Not at all. I don’t do what anybody else does on G.O.O.D. Music. I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m sorta like on G.O.O.D. Music how Kanye was on Roc-A-Fella. I’m doing my own thing.
BallerStatus.com: What do you feel specifically distinguishes you from the other artists on the label?
GLC: Man, listen to my voice, look at my swagger, look at my dynamics … the way that I move, the way that I talk, the mystique. That fact that, you ain’t gonna find another G.O.O.D. Music artist on “American Gangster.” The documentary, not the movie, the documentary, the real sh**. My background, the way that I tell a story how it ain’t never been told. It’s a lot of artist coming out of Chicago that do a wonderful job, but they tell their story. I’m not saying that nobody else’s story is interesting, but my story gon’ blow you away. I make you visualize. I make you exercise your chi.
BallerStatus.com: Did you executive produce the album, or did Kanye? If not, what role did he play in the creation of it?
GLC: Well, we’re still working on the album now. Basically, he’ll send me beats, I get beats from other producers, this and that, I come up with the song concepts. I’ve got a song called “Ordinary Day” that tells a story based around my house burning down, but it tells so many things that took place during that time. When you see it and when you hear it, it’s gonna blow your mind, man. I got a record called “Blinded By The Light” that’s really off the chain, man. I’m basically letting you know that no matter how far I go in life and no matter how much I’m shining and the light shining on me, I’ll never get blinded by it. Always be aware and never forget where you came from. And that can make all the difference as to whether they gon’ love you tomorrow. And for me, I seek love, life and loyalty. I show love. I’m a man of honor and respect. A man of dignity and principles. That’s the way I move all around the board. I’m one of those rappers that doesn’t have a rap voice or a rap costume or none of that sh**. I’m me. One hundred percent, I’m one-hundred all the way down the line. The same dude that’s in this interview is gonna be the same dude on the music.
BallerStatus.com: You don’t put the cape on, huh?
GLC: No, I don’t do that. And if I did do that, I’ve got it on now.