G Herbo blossomed as a rose from the concrete of Chicago’s genre-shifting drill music scene and is now well on his way to a successful rap career. Following a string of gritty mixtapes and his Humble Beast debut in 2017, the 22-year-old is gearing up to unleash his highly anticipated sophomore effort next month, where he will shed his usual street rapping mentality to morph into his carefree alter-ego of Swervo. As part of the transition, Billboard learned that Herb has diversified his portfolio by inking his first-ever partnership deal with Luc Belaire, to be a global ambassador for the brand.
“[Luc Belaire] respects the culture and are fans of rap music. They make you feel at home,” G Herbo exclusively tells Billboard of the France-produced fine wine company. “I actually feel like I’m a part of the brand. It just made a lot of sense and it’s definitely a good drink as well.”
The Chicago native toasts to the good life alongside some of his hip-hop compatriots that already appear on the star-laden Luc Belaire roster which includes DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Steve Aoki, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Dave East, and Ski Mask The Slump God.
“We’re building such a strong, powerful network at Belaire. [G Herbo] has much to celebrate so it only makes sense to welcome him into the Belaire family,” says Harlem’s Dave East.
The Humble Beast rapper will be appearing on Belaire’s Self Made Tastes Better series soon for an in-depth conversation with Sovereign Brands CEO Brett Berish. The two discussed a multitude of topics surrounding Herbo’s rise and the state of their city of Chicago, which Berish also called home as a child.
“G Herbo’s story is truly amazing and we’re inspired by what he’s doing and what he stands for,” Berish says. “We look forward to working with G Herbo on creative projects that push culture forward and make our city of Chicago proud.”
Billboard connected with Herbo — who recently became a father to a baby boy in April — to discuss signing his first endorsement deal with Luc Belaire, crafting Swervo alongside Southside, 6ix9ine’s beef with Chicago, his fascination with Lil Tay’s rise, Drake‘s push to have him release the “Who Run It (Remix),” and much more below.
Billboard: How did your partnership with Luc Belaire come about?
G Herbo: They reached out first and then the relationship started. I met with Brett [Berish] not too long ago in Chicago and we got to know each other. We talked about business and some opportunities in the city and they kept following up. I always felt like it was a good opportunity and wanted to do the deal. Then my first endorsement came about.
Are we going to see you on an episode of their Self Made Tastes Better series soon?
For sure. We touched on some good topics, with Brett being from Chicago. I can’t wait to see it.
How does this make sense for your brand going forward?
It’s definitely a good look. A few of my peers already are a part of the movement, like A Boogie and Dave East. Those are my guys. It just made a lot of sense culture-wise. It’s definitely a good drink as well. I actually do drink Belaire, so that’s always going to be a plus. It made the most sense and it was a natural thing.
What makes Luc Belaire a good match for hip-hop artists?
They respect the culture and are fans of rap music and make you feel at home. I actually feel like I’m a part of the brand. It’s all good.
What can we expect from your sophomore album Swervo?
It’s dropping in July. Some big things going on with the album and we’re finishing it up now. I’m planning a big promo run and hitting radio. It’s definitely in the pipeline for sure. The whole album is being produced by Southside.
Swervo is my alter-ego. It’s the opposite of G Herbo. I’m not being humble. I’m not really telling you stories or filling you in on my past because you got that already. This is more of me having fun and party records. I’m kind of dumbing it down a bit as an artist. Doing the shit that people don’t think I can do. I feel like it’s actually a very good album.
The pre-order will be out in a few weeks, but I want to surprise my fans with the features. We got a few on there. I want my albums to be true to me. Whoever I’ve had a feature with is someone I really fuck with. I don’t get with an artist because they’re hot.
Why did you want to lock in this one producer for the project?
Southside is my brother. He wants to see me win. That’s one guy I can genuinely say wants the best for me no matter if he gains from it or not. He doesn’t even have to make a dollar. That’s just something I feel not all artists have. If you do have someone like that in your corner, you should appreciate them and try to make the best of that relationship. Southside is already an established multi-millionaire.
He doesn’t have to be doing any of the shit for me but he wants to. It’s a brotherhood more than anything and the music is there. We’re going to make shit regardless. We can make another album in two weeks if we want to. The chemistry is there.
Walk me through the creative process for your latest single, “Focused.”
I think when I go to Miami and record with Southside, we just make good music. A lot of my favorite songs from the album were recorded out there, like “Everything” from Humble Beast. “Focused” was one of the last songs that I created down there. I’m just letting you know I can touch on both ends. I’m a street artist and I can do the real rap all day as well.
How has being a father altered your career?
It’s been good so far. It’s not hard at all. Definitely not as bad as people make it out to be. Just when you’re sleepy and he’s not, that’s when you’re in trouble. They grow fast and with the career that I chose for myself, you have to work and time doesn’t slow down. The hardest thing is being there and home, but also being able to create opportunities for yourself. In the music industry, It doesn’t stop for anybody. You could have a newborn kid, but you gotta get right back to work.
Has fatherhood increased your motivation for this album?
I think so. I feel like it’s definitely been motivating. I’m more motivated for sure on a whole other level. My son just makes me want to be more successful. It makes me want to record more music. I can’t say it impacts the kind of music I’m making, though. It just makes me want to stay creative.
That “Who Run It (Remix)” with Lil Uzi Vert really took off. What made you want to craft a record like that and get him on it?
That was crazy. I wasn’t even going to do that interview. I knew the interview was with Bay Bay but I wasn’t feeling good and I went it did it anyway. I dropped the freestyle and the shit went crazy viral. I just sent it to Lil Uzi Vert and he was really fucking with it. He jumped right on the [song] and I didn’t even tell him to put a verse on it.
Drake inspired me to drop it, but it was already out with the freestyle. When I got back to Chicago, the next day, I went to the studio and actually recorded it because it was getting so much attention. So when Drake said, “Make it a real record and drop it!” I already had it done. So if Drake told me to drop it, I might as well. I’ve been in contact with Drake since 2014 on and off. We’ll text for a little bit then not talk for a whole year.
I know you’ve previewed a “Nice For What” remix recently as well. Do you plan to drop that soon?
Yeah, I think I’m going to shoot a video for that as well. I really do like that song. I hit Drake and spoke with Murda Beatz also. I’m going to put that up real soon. I just recorded it on some random shit and it worked. It was kind of fun. I’m going to put it out with a viral video to go with it for sure.
What are your thoughts on the whole 6ix9ine versus Chief Keef situation with Chicago?
I’m going to say this and I’m not speaking on it again. I don’t give a fuck what [6ix9ine] does. I don’t have beef with New York and I don’t have anything to do with none of that shit. I don’t care. I would never tell my fans to say “fuck [6ix9ine]” or anybody because it’s irrelevant to me. I’ve been in real beef and I’ve had people try to kill me. That’s the not the situation here. We all making money and are millionaires. I don’t have any reason to be into it with [6ix9ine] or try to hurt him. I could give two fucks about that shit, honestly. That’s not my altercation and I have nothing to do with it.
Is 6ix9ine okay to walk around the city of Chicago?
From what I know, it’s a free country. If he’s okay to walk around New York, it’s okay to walk around Chicago.
What do you have planned for the Chicago community?
A lot of good things are going on. Chance The Rapper and I are doing something real soon. It’s a sensitive subject, with everything going on in Chicago. We want to do something touching on mental health. Even with post-traumatic stress disorder and stuff that we deal with on a day-to-day basis. I just want to create opportunities for the kids that are in a hostile neighborhood or unsafe home environments.
It’s about creating opportunities that we didn’t have. You get in life what you put in. We’re going to have something on the Southside of Chicago for kids that want to produce music, shoot videos, or just have a place to get away from the streets and be creative. I’m involved with a lot of stuff like that coming soon. If you could save even a few people, then it’s worth it.
I noticed you were reposting videos from Lil Tay to your social media accounts.
I fuck with Lil Tay — that’s some funny shit. I actually wanted to sign Lil Tay. I feel like it’s an open platform and it shows there’s no excuse for anybody in the world. You could get rich off talking shit nowadays. It doesn’t matter what your niche is. Find something you’re good at and do it by any means. If it creates a better life for you, then do it. People get rich off of selling clothes or modeling for Instagram. There’s a lot of money out here, so go get it! Get your money by any means.
Is there any update on the joint project with Lil Bibby coming out?
We’re still working on our joint project. It’s just a matter of us being in the same place. We’re both busy right now but it’s coming.
Do you have anything else planned for the rest of 2018?
I got about 50 new songs that I just recorded. I got another album that I’m going to drop after Swervo. I’ve been working with No I.D. a lot lately. We a lot of good shit coming and I’m still independent.