Chicago’s Lil’ Herb has carved out a nice little niche for himself in the city’s ever-growing rap scene. Wild enough to hang with the Drill rappers and lyrical enough to bang on tracks with the likes of Earl Sweatshirt, G-Herbo stands tall in the streets with an uncontrollable delivery and a keen sense of honesty in his raps.
He started 2014 off with his debut Welcome To Fazoland mixtape and ended the year off with the surprise release of his Pistol P Project. Both tapes are meant to act as appetizers to the main course, Ballin Like I’m Kobe, which was named after one of his late friends.
In between studio sessions, Herbo stopped by VIBE headquarters in New York City to discuss his plans for 2015, upcoming projects, being influenced by Dipset, who he wants to work with the most and more.
So, was it your original plan to surprise fans with the Pistol P Project?
Lil Herb: Yeah, that was my plan cause originally just to keep the fans on until Balling Like I’m Kobe drops cause I don’t really have a release date yet. And, people kept asking for it, so I just wanted to give them some solid music.
I know there have been bunch of labels have been trying to sign you. Any takers?
Nah, I just being doing my own thing. Just working, recording songs and doing shows. My lane is wild open, though. There isn’t just one direction I’m going in. I’m just keeping my lane wide open.
You’ve been working on the Ballin Like I’m Kobe project for a while now. When will we get that?
Yeah, I haven’t really dropped a lot of songs, and I’m not sure if I want to make Ballin Like I’m Kobe a mixtape or an album. I don’t really want to drop too much free music. I ain’t really trying to rush it because I want it to be perfect. I don’t really want to limit myself too much. That’s why I try to do soulful music, party music, street music, and something for everybody.
I feel like Welcome To Fazoland was an introduction. Balling Like I’m Kobe is really just my life now. From really Welcome to Fazoland and the all shows. [It] just shows me growing as an artist. So that’s why I feel the concept of Balling Like I’m Kobe is going to be of course street music, soulful music or what I’m going through and how rap changed my life. There’s going to be all types of different types tracks on there. Really, the concept is just the growth.
You’re already known for the street shit. That’s pretty much how you got your name.
Right, I could do that with my eyes closed so I really just try to do different stuff. Like the street shit, that ain’t going nowhere. My lane is wide open so I just want to show people what’s the different stuff I can do.
Outside of Chicago, what has been your favorite city so far?
My favorite city I would say would be L.A. I love LA. I love the environment, the weather of course. Chicago too cold for me [Laughs].
What about New York? Obviously this is the birthplace of Hip-Hop, where it all started.
Right, New York. I love New York.
Do you see some similarities between New York and Chicago?
I see a lot of similarities between New York and Chicago, I mean just like the style and a lot of rappers who I grew up listening to are from New York, like Jay, Jadakiss, Nas — real soulful artists.
I notice you have more of a New York influence in your style. You’re more of like a storyteller, kind of like a spokesperson for the streets.
Yeah, I just try to tell stories of what I’ve been through. My life, I’ve been through a lot for me to be young. So, I just try tell the world what I’ve been through and just how I’m blessed to be where I’m at right now for me. [Just] raveling as much as I’m and just making a way for myself and my family.
Have you worked if anyone from New York on this trip?
I’ve been hollering at Juelz. He came to Chicago and he was messing with me and my homie Reese while he was out there. So, I want to go holla at him and see what he on. I grew up listening to Dipset, looking up to Juelz, Cam, Jim Jones everybody.
(Lil Herb on the similarities between New York and Chicago and being influenced by Dipset)
I always heard that Cam was going to Chicago back in the day to do shows and all of that. For you, was it the style, too?
Yeah, the style, they clothes — that’s why I wear Pelle’s and stuff . Cause I really got that from Dipset. I saw them wearing Pelles. When I was younger I had like three pink outfits because of Cam’ron.
If you had a chance to work with anybody in the rap game, who would you work with?
Who would I want to work with…
Like if you could bring anybody right here, who would it be?
It would kind of be like a tie between Hov and Drake. Them two.
Last thing, I wanted to know how your collaboration with Earl Sweatshirt came about?
We linked up with Redbull when I did SXSW. And I was in Cali and they just reached out to me and I came to the studio with Earl. I was already familiar with Earl’s music and shit like that. So when we got in the studio, we connected and [he] made the beat from scratch right in the studio. So we were just connecting and got it done. He’s a cool ass nigga.
Did you met him before?
Nah, we had just met. First time meeting, we were just in there cooling, smoking and shit like that.
The track is so ill, and your verses are like the opposite of each other.
Exactly, that’s the reason why I think the record is so big cause like most of the time rappers will try to cross over into another lane or something like that. That’s why I try to stay in my lane but be different and that’s the same with Earl. We met in the middle. We lived damn near totally different lifestyles. But we still made the songs make sense. Whether you a knuckle head in the streets or just a common knucklehead.