Meet Hoolie Gu, The Rapper Growing Through Tunes And Guiding The Youth
Hoolie Gu is not letting this moment go to waste. The 28-year-old Brooklynite, whose debut EP Look At Me Now dropped in July, hustles hard and with heart, something he learned from growing in the “gutter, gritty gangster” NYC environment. A product of his environment, Hoolie’s determined, entrepreneurial spirit is evident both in his music and personal life.
“Brooklyn teaches you everything there is to know about streets and the hustle, which is reflected in the music,” he wrote in an e-mail to VIBE. “Coming from Brooklyn, [Bedford-Stuyvesant] specifically, it’s ‘do or die.’ It teaches you everything you need to know about the streets and how to be the perfect hustler. First, you watch everything, and then you hustle.”
Hoolie’s aforementioned EP features the song “Make It Or Take It,” an introspective, piano-clad track about blessings and growth. As a musician, he’s experienced tons of growth in the past year alone; he performed alongside Chief Keef for the Two Zero One Seven tour in 2017, and he is planning to release a compilation album titled The Best of Hoolie Gu Vol. 1, 2, & 3, which aims to trace his rise since embarking on his own journey. He’s also hoping to display what he’s learning and gaining as a man, which is a fulfillment of self and purpose.
“[Rap] can be a quick way to make money, but it can also be a big distraction for the youth to find out how good they can be at something else.”
“In my raps, I try to make people look in the mirror more and stop trying to be ‘down,’” Hoolie explained. “If you don’t do what’s fashionable, then nobody is really paying attention. My social media views don’t define my success. People think success is what people think of them, but it’s really your day-to-day progress and how you view success within yourself.”
Hoolie says his musical inspirations are Tupac and fellow Brooklyn boy JAY-Z. Much like the Jigga Man, Hoolie’s hustle is unmatched; he’s the founder of his own independent record label, Hoolie Records, and through that endeavor, he’s grown as both a businessman and artist.
“[JAY-Z] coming from where my grandma and I used to live [Marcy housing projects] it had that much more of an impact,” he gushed before delving into what he’s learned as a businessman. “The first lesson people need to know before jumping into owning their own business… [is that] it’s hard. Be mindful of the people around you and your business. Keep supporters who are willing to sacrifice for your business. No one can run a business by themselves.”
Such as his artistry has evolved, Hoolie continues to grow as a person each day. Not only is he involved in his own independent business endeavor, he’s matured philanthropically. He has a goal to give back to the area he grew up in and want to build recreation centers in order to keep the youth engaged and “instill hope.”
“I want to build recreational center because if kids are tired after school, they have no time to be in the streets,” he wrote. “I also want to build homeless centers where homeless people can come and get their hair done, a shape up, a shower, their nails done…whatever it takes to feel like a regular person.”
Despite being in the music industry, the MC doesn’t have much of an interest in providing music resources for the youth, primarily because “music isn’t for everyone,” and he wants them to know there are other outlets for their creativity.
“[Rap] can be a quick way to make money, but it can also be a big distraction for the youth to find out how good they can be at something else,” he explained. “Rappers nowadays make rap look easy. It sells a false dream to kids today who still has time to figure out what they’re good at and actually enjoy doing.”
“I rap for me,” he explains of the difference between rapping for attention and rapping with substance. He says his content has changed dramatically in a few years, evident by the shift in his sound from 2015’s expletive-heavy “The Truth” to his reflective latest single.
“As a person, I’m not wasting time and energy on meaningless things,” he wrote. “Growing as a person caused me to grow in my music, which made me upgrade my vocabulary and content… If you get caught up into making music for people, you’ll never be your own artist. You don’t have to compromise who you are as an artist to deliver.”