For the last century, Detroit has continuously pushed music, fashion and culture forward. From the earliest days of the Ford imprint to the rise of Motown, the Motor City has added to the fabric of American history in ways that are impossible to quantify. As we enter the thick of the year 2021, not much has changed. Royce Da 5’9 is fresh off of a GRAMMY nomination, Starz continues to develop the Black Mafia Family series and Big Sean is in the studio working on new music with Hit-Boy. Rising beside veteran acts like Royce Da 5’9 and Big Sean, a new crop of artists is emerging out of the midwest city. Kash Doll, 42 Dugg, Tee Grizzley and several other artists are cementing their names in the city’s history books. Just last year, Sada Baby’s “Whole Lotta Choppas” earned a Nicki Minaj verse. Not to mention, Babyface Ray has tapped in with the likes of EST Gee, Moneybagg Yo and even Future. Right beside Babyface Ray is another Detroit native looking to bring the sound of Detroit to every corner of the world, G.T.
Growing up alongside Peezy and Babyface Ray, G.T. is a solid reminder of what Detroit rap has always been and what it could be. Covered in honesty, G.T.’s straightforward style, blunt nature, wordplay and laidback flow help him stand in his own lane as an artist. With his latest, project, Call Me G.T., the Detroit native capitalizes on what has made him stand out as an emerging artist in the state of Michigan. Backed by soulful production that draws on classic R&B tracks, Call Me G.T. takes you through the streets of Detroit and explores his life as an artist looking to take his music to the next level.
Ryan Shepard: Thank you for doing this, man.
GT: I appreciate you all very much.
No problem, man. Is everything good with you?
What do we got going on?
Not too much. I just wanted to chop it up with you about the album and see what you’ve been working on.
We’ve got new music dropping this month. It’s quality G.T. It’s self-titled. This is the project to get everybody ready for what’s to come. I’m about to follow up with something crazy, right behind it.
When I was getting ready for the interview, I read that music is something you’ve been interested in since you were 11 or 12 years old. You would go to your uncle’s studio and just be around music a lot growing up. When did you make the decision to start focusing on music full-time?
I’m not gon’ lie. It was Uncle Earl and DJ Vince [that got me interested in music]. They had this studio in the back and they would have the hardest rappers in Detroit there. Being around that made me want to be a rapper. I was influenced by all of that as a kid.
I also wanted to learn more about your musical influences growing up. I’m interested because your music samples a lot of older R&B and soul music. When I listened to your music, I heard René & Angela and Nivea samples. Did you listen to a lot of R&B growing up?
That comes from my grandma waking me up early in the morning. She would always have music playing. When I was little, I would be listening to Johnny Gill with my Grandma. Then she would have me rapping, “You down with O.P.P? Yeah, you know me.” She would also have me rapping, “Hip Hop hooray, hey, ho!” She had me listening to all that back then.
I’ve always had a microphone in my hand. Do you remember those speakers that used to come with a microphone attached? Those used to be the hardest things to get when we were kids. I used to go down the street and sing to this older girl. I would be rapping, singing and doing all types of stuff with music.
I feel that. Growing up, I knew if I heard Mary J. Blige or something like that before I woke up, we were about to hear that all day in the house. It usually meant we were going to be cleaning the house that day too, but hearing that music sticks with you as you get older.
That’s real. Do you remember that Mary J. Blige song where she sings, “Since you’ve been away, I ain’t got no plans. No, no, no.” I don’t remember the name of the song right now, but you know what I’m talking about. That Mary J. Blige song used to be banging in the old days, no cap. You know what I’m talking about. That’s how I know you’re musically inclined because you know music from back in the day.
Following up on the music you listened to growing up, I read that you grew up with Peezy and Babyface Ray. In most places, three successful rappers don’t grow up within the same block or neighborhood, but that’s common in Detroit. The members of D12 grew up together. Going back to the Motown days, Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson were neighbors. How does it feel to grow up in a city that always produces musical talent?
It’s a beautiful thing. It’s just really a blessing and I’m grateful for all the stuff that’s coming our way, but we really worked hard though. We went through the motions. For anybody that [reads this] and is out there working, it just might not be your time [right now]. There were times that they told us that our beats were weak or our tempo was the weakest that they had ever heard. They would tell us that it was too fast and it was offbeat. Now, the whole world sounds like they’re from Detroit.
We’ve been doing this our whole life. Since we were kids, we were working hard. We had to get something out of this. We didn’t do anything else. We just rapped.
I relate to what you said about the world wanting to sound like Detroit. Growing up in New Jersey, it always felt like people bit New Jersey style, but the focus was always on New York.
As you said, there’s a lot of Detroit style being used in music. From Kash Doll to Big Sean to you to Royce Da 5’9 to Peezy and so and so forth. There’s a lot of people pushing Detroit forward at the moment, but they don’t always get the credit they deserve outside of the city. Do you think Detroit gets overlooked sometimes?
All the time. Detroit is just…I don’t think anybody can deny Detroit right now. I don’t care where anyone’s at. Australia? I bet they listen to somebody from Detroit. They even probably listen to somebody from Flint. They even like the artists that all my people brought in. Then, they start goin’ crazy and they bring in more people. Now, the whole world is listening to YN Jay and Louie Ray. Packman is going crazy too.
The world knows about Detroit and Michigan as a whole. Detroit is a special place. You have to be from here to really understand Detroit, man. This isn’t a place you just move to. You might say you’re about to move to Atlanta or move to California. If someone says they’re about to move to Detroit, they’ve already got it figured out. They know exactly what they’re about to do.
Earlier you said, “For anybody that [reads this] and is out there working, it just might not be your time [right now].” A few years ago, things got tough as you went through a car accident. Since the accident, what things have changed for you musically and personally?
I used to be so high off of Xanax, but I kicked that. That was the best thing I could have ever done because that was really messing me up. Now, I can really reach my full potential.
Focusing on your music, I think I first saw your name about nine or ten years ago. I was hearing Big Sean for the first time and he was working with Dusty McFly, Earlly Mac and a few other Detroit artists, so I started looking for more Detroit artists to listen to. I ended up finding a song called “Yo Wife” that you did with Dusty McFly. How did that song come together?
That was genuine. That was just us being together. We were just doing us, talking sh*t. It was genuine. That’s it.
Outside of music, I saw you posted on Instagram about closing on your first property. Are you starting to get into real estate?
Yeah, I’ve got another property. After I sold that, I went straight into another project, but I’m not sure exactly what I want to do next with real estate. I do know that I want to open commercial units and stuff like that. I want to have a lot of houses. I want to have houses where the city is paying me to use them or rent them. The one thing I’ll say is that being a landlord is stressful.
In addition to real estate, I saw that you post different pictures of your family and the people around you. I saw you post a magazine cover with your Dad on it and I also saw you post pictures of your son. How does your family motivate you to continue doing what you’re doing?
You know how everybody’s families are. They see you doing big things, but it doesn’t hit them until it goes beyond the neighborhood. Now, when I see them on holidays, they’ll say, “Everyone knows you, man. I’ll be at work and they’ll come up to me ask me, ‘Is that your cousin?'” It’s just stuff like that. You know how that family stuff is? They keep me motivated though.
Convincing other people to see the long-term vision that you have is tough. At first, I had to tell my friends that journalism doesn’t pay off that much in the beginning, but it’ll pay off in the end.
Yeah. At first, it doesn’t seem like it makes sense.
For you, was there a point where your family wasn’t sure that music was going to work out?
I don’t even think that they know now. They still think I’m playing. You know how that is. They still think I’m playing around with this. They’re a little older. They’re a little out of the loop. As long I’m safe and out of harm’s way, they’re all for it. If it makes me happy, they’re with it. I’ve been with this music so long that they know that I want to be a superstar. One day, I’m going to be one of the greatest.
Speaking of being a superstar, what does that look like for you individually? What would success look like for you? What would make you say, “Yeah, I did it. I made it,” at the end of your career?[I’ll know I made it] when I’ve got a big crib like Rick Ross. I want a big crib like Ross and I want my money to be making money for me. When you’ve got your money making money for you, you don’t even have to get up in the morning for real. You can just sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. That’s where I want to be 10 years from now.
Right now, it’s go time. I haven’t really been sleeping. I’ve just been in the studio all day and all night. A hit has to come out of that studio. We’ve been fishing for that [hit] like a great white shark. When we get that [hit], it’s up. I’m telling you. We’re going to make a worldwide hit.
Detroit has it on lock, but we’re missing worldwide hits like Big Sean has. He has worldwide hits. It’s time to have more hits from Detroit on the Billboard charts. That’s what I want to see. I want to see people from Detroit take this to another level instead of shorting ourselves and doing the things that we always do. We can take our craft to the next level and turn it into a real thing. We can make real videos with real videographers who want to take this to another level. It’s time to make movies and think big.
It’s funny that you mention Rick Ross because I was watching Coming 2 America and his house was in the movie.
He popped up. Did you see how they used his house and he still popped up? He was not about to let them use his house and not pop up in that movie. That’s the hood in him though. Put me in that thing. I’d be the one in there with the gun.
Is there a movie or a show you’re trying to get a part in?
Hell yeah! I’m real cool with the people that made Buffed Up. I was in a show that was going to come out. Actually, it’ll probably still come out knowing them. I’m definitely trying to get in a movie if the opportunity is there.
Wrapping things up, you’ve got new music on the way. Is there a particular song or a portion of the album that you are really excited for people to hear?
Curren$y, man. I’ve got a song with Curren$y. I’m from Seven Mile! I was on the block and I’ve got a song with Curren$y! Curren$y is my man, bro. He’s also someone who’s really schooled in this industry and in this game.
My last question is also about the new music you’ve got coming. If someone is listening to G.T. for the first time today, what would you want them to know about your music?
It’s real. Flat out. This is as real as it gets.