Shy Glizzy Talks New Mixtape 'Quiet Storm,' Being Grammy Nominated & His Hometown Support: 'I Am Trump in D.C.'
In just a matter of years, Washington D.C. has become a hotbed oozing with hip-hop talent. After Wale carried the torch for several years as the city's ambassador, dozens of hungry new acts have bloomed from the nation's capital, most notably Shy Glizzy.
Born Marquis Amonte King, Glizzy's unflinching demeanor -- courtesy of his upbringing in the hard streets of D.C. -- groomed him in preparation for the cutthroat life of the music industry. Mixtapes such as Law and Law 2 were laced with hard-nosed lyricism and grit, winning him a wave of new supporters outside of his DMV radius.
In 2014, he released two bangers: "White Girl" and "Awwsome," "Awwsome" was a swaggering cut that ended up getting blared through the speakers at countless house parties and college campuses. The record quickly bubbled over to the mainstream and landed at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. Glizzy capitalized off the record's booming success and tapped A$AP Rocky & 2 Chainz for the "Awwsome (Remix)" in October 2014.
The following year, Glizzy watched his hard work pay off as he was rewarded with a spot on the XXL Freshmen list. He continued flooding the mixtape circuit with myriad projects, including his joint effort with heavyweight producer Zaytoven titled, For Trappers Only. Earlier this year, Glizzy netted his biggest accomplishment when fellow D.C. native, GoldLink, recruited him for his single "Crew." The record has peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was nominated for a Grammy last month.
With a new mixtape titled Quiet Storm out today (Dec. 12), the 25-year-old can smile at his banner year and continue to build off his momentum. Glizzy spoke to Billboard about his new project Quiet Storm, being nominated for his first Grammy, Meek Mill's sentencing and more.
Billboard: You were just nominated for a Grammy. Are you feeling the pressure to go harder in the studio?
Shy Glizzy: Nah. Not when it’s organic. That’s what’s supposed to happen. That’s what I work for. It won’t go to my head too much. I ain’t never really thought about a nomination like that. I thought about it, but I’m still working every day like that never happened. Same way I was before.
How do you manage to keep this hunger and not get comfortable even after just recieving a Grammy nod?
Shit, man, I mean, the things that I go through on a daily basis. I go through regular situations, so I’m motivated by it. It don’t really bring me down. It just keeps me going. The next guy, he might give up on what he’s trying to do going through some of this shit. And you know? We always been musically inclined, too. We always had the high energy.
Talk to me about the “Take Me Away” record? How did it come together?
I did it out [in New York], actually.
New York inspired you?
I had like three different sessions. One at home when they first brought it to me, and then I think I got to L.A., then we brought it back to New York. I just knew it was a good beat. I was feelin’ the beat, but I didn’t know exactly how to get what I wanted to say out. So I sat with it for three, four hours -- 5 a.m. I just went and went crazy. It took me like 30 minutes to do because that was like my mood at the time. I really just go off my vibe and really how I’m feeling -- what my instinct is -- and just put it on wax. What I’m going through and shit.
How do you still suffer from these every day issues despite having so much money and success all around you?
Some people got people that bring ‘em up. Some people got people that bring ‘em down. We just all on the same platform, the same pedestal. Like, what I’m going through, they going through, and what they going through, I’m going through. So it’s like me just trying to put on a whole movement. That’s really the biggest thing. Because everybody just ride the waves of someone else when I just like -- I’m me. I just started my own lane and it’s just me and Glizzy Gang. We just create our waves, and people ride ‘em.
You mentioned Glizzy Gang, so I wonder how have you managed to keep your circle so tight and not get lost in the industry nonsense?
Because I’ve been going through those problems my whole life, or facing that reality, so it’s like -- I already know how to be around 100 people going through the club 100-deep. I know how to control those things. I don’t get ran over by my peers. I don’t gotta have people around just because -- I just don’t have to be deep because I’m a rapper, or just because everybody wanna be a part of my success. It’s really my choice. I control who around me, who I want around me versus everybody else. They got everybody in their ear, and they just so weak that they like, ‘Huh? Huh? Huh?’ I just be like, ‘No.’ I put my foot down every time, and everybody can’t say no. They got no one to say that.
How did "Dope Boy Magic" with Trey Songz and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie come together?
Trey, we did a couple joints in the studio, and then he just felt as though that was just the best vibe. He was like, ‘Man, this just fit you so well,’ because of what I did on it. So, then I sent it to A Boogie. A Boogie wanted “Take Me Away,” actually. And then I told him, ‘Look, I got this joint for you. This thing’s serious.’ And then he sent it back the next day. I think he was on tour -- sent it back the next day. Then, it was a smash after that. I knew it was a smash.
I always said it would be crazy if you, A Boogie, and PnB Rock did a collaboration project together.
The thing about music, like, it just means so much to me. I feel like, even someone just hopping on one of my records, they might not be going through this type of stuff that I’m going through, or they might not be the same person I am, so it’s like -- it’s deeper than the music with me. I just don’t make it with people just because they have good music.
I like A Boogie personally, and his music, so that’s why it was a perfect fit for “Dope Boy Magic” and all that versus “Take Me Away.” It’s just so personal to me because I’m wishing death upon myself. Do them type of guys talk about that? Nah. So it’s like I’m bringing them into a whole other world. At one point, we was living. Like, I don’t know if everybody was living like that.
Are you still out in D.C.?
Oh yeah, yeah. Every day.
What’s the vibe like in D.C., especially with Trump in the White House?
I don’t even get the Trump vibe. I am Trump in D.C. The environment I’m in, they don’t even get caught up in that, because he ain’t helping us. They looking up to me to help that situation, so it’s like I don’t even get caught up in the politics. Like, for me, I’m just active. The same guy I’ve been. They just treat me with more royalty because of the stuff that I’m on now, but for the most part, people already know how me and my crew get down. It’s really just the same as it’s always been.
What kind of optimism are you giving the kids out there?
They watching, you know what I’m saying? Everybody go through their situations. I been doing stuff for my community, but you know, the environment I come from, people over the top of me. Like certain law systems, they don’t like to see that type of thing because I had run-ins with the law. I’m from a crazy environment where different stuff goes down, so they don’t expect me and my peers to always be off the chain. That’s when we come in and prove our worth.
We about to throw a free show. I want to start an organization, too. I been thinking about it lately. So you know, that should help a lot of kids in my city. But I really feel as though I influence a lot of the music out there.
What are your thoughts on Meek Mill's sentencing?
I don’t want to see nobody done bad like that. I mean, shit, he gonna keep his head up in that motherfucker. He’s a soldier. Free Meek. I can’t really speak too much on the next man’s situation, because we’re all through those same [adversities] and those same situations, so only thing I can do is pray for the man.
How do you feel you’ve grown and matured since your 2014 mixtape Young Jefe?
I feel as though I was getting it then. I was in my zone. I learned a new form around that time where I mastered my craft. Because I came in the game writing and then I could do the freestyle shit, this or that, but it’s like everybody falling in form [with that] right now but they ain’t really thinking about what they talking about. But with me, it’s moreso like I’m talking about everything that’s on my mind, like I’m relieving some stress off my shoulders.
It ain’t really just like hopping on there just saying anything. I gotta think carefully before I say anything on that mic. So I only could talk about the realness of my life at this point. I can’t talk about nothin’ that don’t make sense. I just want people to pay attention to the words and what I’m saying.
People gravitate to that kind of realness.
That’s kind of how Eazy-E was, though. That’s one of my biggest influences, too. Sometimes, I want to make my voice howl on purpose. That’s the beauty of music, too. It’s art. I like bringing my own approach to it.