INTERVIEW: Sheff G's been an underground hit since "No Suburban" but the release of "The Unluccy Luccy Kid" marks a new era for Brooklyn hip-hop.
At the beginning of the decade, nobody would've really guessed Chief Keef's impact on the game. Even to this day, it feels like Chief Keef doesn't get his proper due. The sound of drill transcended its regional birthplace of Chicago's Southside, becoming an internationally recognized genre that has influenced some of today's most important albums and artists. While Drill has already made a regional imprint in the U.K, it has recently spread to Brooklyn, thanks to the pioneering efforts Sheff G.
The bleak reality Chief Keef detailed in his music is something that wasn't only a reflection of Chicago, but many marginalized neighborhoods across America-- including Brooklyn. "I was thinking like, how did they know what was going on over here, and they telling our story over there? Like, that’s crazy. Everybody was going through the same thing at one time," Sheff G explains. At 25-years-old, the rapper is a direct reflection of Chief Keef's influence, tapping into the energy Bobby Shmurda brought to the game during his short-lived, pre-incarceration reign.
Now, Sheff G is presenting his reality of Brooklyn on his own terms. With the release of his debut project, THE UNLUCCY LUCCY KID, Sheff G isn't here to give you a watered-down version of his world. Haunting piano keys, lonely vocal soul samples, and murderous drums are set as the backdrop of his debut project, a glimpse into the world he grew up in. We recently chopped it up with Sheff G, where he got candid about the rise of Brooklyn drill, Chief Keef and Bobby Shmurda's influence, and being cautious of what he admits to on wax.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
HNHH: Yo yo, Sheff G?
How are you doing, bro?
I'm good man, chilling.
Congratulations on the new project, how are you feeling about it now that it’s out?
It’s lit man, this shit is all new to me though.
How has that feeling been, especially within Brooklyn and having that hometown love?
It just had a big ass impact on my hood and everybody. Like I saw as soon as it dropped everybody was making statuses back to back. Instagram, Twitter, everywhere.
How did you celebrate the release of it?
We did a release party.
Ok dope, where was that at, New York I assume?
Yeah, in Le Souk in Manhattan.
Ok, that’s what’s up. I just wanted to talk about the project and the Brooklyn drill sound that you’ve helped introduce, pretty much. You kind of brought this in a few years ago but this summer-
It’s now starting to get real notarized right?
Yeah, and I was thinking because you’ve been doing it and you’ve had this underground buzz up until now. But with Pop Smoke’s “Welcome to the Party” it had that same Brooklyn drill feeling, but it exploded over the summer. So I was just wondering how you feel about your hood in general really having that global impact right now?
I mean, that’s good, that’s like a dream we would’ve thought of when we were younger and shit. But we took it and made it into a reality, so it’s lit.
It’s real deep man. It means so much more than music.
That’s dope, but with the Brooklyn drill sound, it’s emerging at the same time as U.K. drill sound. So, in your opinion, I wanted to see how you would define Brooklyn drill in comparison to Chicago, or even the U.K.
So like, the U.K. is different but it’s kind of the same. But in the U.K., the beats that they use are real evil to me. That’s why I drifted to those types of beats because it’s real dark. And the Chicago type drill, the way they do the beats and stuff, it was lit at a time but then it got old to everybody because everybody started using the same flow and shit. So the U.K beats were different. And now, we’re sitting with our own producers and making our own beats, so that’s why everything sounds so different now.
Yeah, like the one thing I noticed about your project, it was interesting to me because you get that authentic feel in New York but the drums still kick heavy in the same way you’d expect drill to be. For yourself, of course being in New York, being from Brooklyn specifically, that’s home of two of the best rappers ever. So I wanted to know, for you, especially in an era of music when people don’t necessarily celebrate lyrics as much, why is this necessary for you to maintain that New York tradition of lyricism?
Because I want to stand out from everybody else. That’s the thing I’m trying to show. We the same, but we not the same, you know what I’m saying?
Is there competition, in terms of being a better lyricist?
Nah. Me, personally, I don’t feel like there’s no competition
Why the title The Unluccy Luccy Kid for your debut project?
Shit, that’s the story of my life. That’s how it’s been for me since a kid, lucky but unlucky. Bullshit will happen but then something good will happen right after.
How long did it take you to make this project?
It took me about a month. I had more songs on the project but I kept taking them in and out. I kept switching songs until I felt like it was the perfect amount of songs.
People often say that a debut project is often someone’s life work because you’re bringing those stories to the forefront.
That’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to bring them to my hood. I'm trying to make the fans and everybody tuning in see my story and how I was living. What was going on.
The project doesn’t have a whole lot of features except for two. You have Sleepy Hallow on a couple of tracks so I just wanted to ask you about your relationship with him and how those songs came about? How is your chemistry with him in the studio?
Listen, Sleepy’s my brother. We grew up together and all that. We went through the struggle together and all that shit that happened, happened to both of us. And then we express it on the tracks. So that's how [we] be coming up with different shit. We just really telling our stories. Just real shit that be happening. Good and bad.
In terms of your creation process, how much of an influence is Sleepy on you, and vice versa?
There’s a big influence, I think. We both feed off of each other’s energy. Especially when we in the studio, we both push each other to go harder than each other, even though we on the same track.
You also have Mozzy on the project. I was wondering what made you want to get him on the project specifically?
Shout out to him, man. When I saw Gangland Landlord, I had to tune in with that man. He on our type of time, all the way in Cali.
Did you guys meet in person the first time? Or was it in an IG scenario?
Yeah, yeah off of IG.
Were there any other artists that you were hoping to get on this project?
Anybody else I wanted to get on the project?
Yeah, that you didn’t manage to get. Or was your goal with this project to tell your own story and hold your own?
Yep, yep it was all about the story. I didn’t want anybody else or no features or nothing.
Is that something you’ll pay attention to moving forward?
The way I’m doing it now working, but I’ll work with any other artist that it makes sense to work with. But right now I don’t feel like I need to. I just gotta tell my story real quick. Let them tune into me.
Photo By HNHH
Of course. So I also wanted to talk to you about Bobby Shmurda. How influential was he while coming up? Can you remember the first time you heard his music?
Yeah, the first one I heard was “Hot N***a”. That’s the first one I heard. It was blowing up, it was lit because it was just a real lit time. It was summer, everything was just fucking lit.
You were probably pretty young at this point, like early teens I assume?
Yeah, I was probably 15 or 16.
Then that song took over the world.
Facts, and that’s the life everybody was really living. What he was talking about, everybody was really living that type of life.
So seeing someone like Bobby Shmurda, like from Brooklyn, have that much of an impact, was that something you aspired to do when you dropped “No Suburban”? Or when you released this new project?
For releasing a project, yeah. But when I first was putting out music, I didn’t expect myself to really become a rapper or really blow up enough. We were just doing it to put on our hood, because everybody was rapping. We just wanted to put our hood on, that’s all we were thinking about. To become a real rapper, that’s like a dream. So when we really posted it and it blew up, it was like, “Oh shit, I gotta become a rapper now. I gotta really tune in”.
I also wanted to talk to you about somebody else that you’ve said is a huge influence on you. I know that you really like Chief Keef. Of course, being a Brooklyn drill artist, it makes total sense. So what was it about Chief Keef’s music at the time that really drew you in?
It was more about their story. I was thinking like, how did they know what was going on over here, and they telling our story over there. Like, that’s crazy. Everybody was going through the same thing at one time. That’s what really made me tune in all the time. If he could do it I felt like I could do it.
I remember watching an interview with you, and you were pretty much saying, Chief Keef was the first artist that got you tuned in and became your favorite artist. So I was wondering, who were some artists you were listening to before Chief Keef?
No, just generally.
Growing up, I listened to 50, Eminem, Biggie, everybody. I wasn’t really tuned into music music. Music wasn’t something I listened to all the time. I was little, so I didn’t really tune into music like that. When I hit like 16, or 15, then I started really listening to music, and that’s how I started tuning in with everybody else. Like, damn they living the same type of life over here.
With drill music, it’s an authentic reflection of what goes on in one's environment. That’s why Chief Keef’s music took off, that’s why your music took off. Do you ever feel like you have to be cautious of what you say on a record?
Is that something that, in this project, you were very critical of yourself on?
In this project, I’m explaining to the fans that even other rappers that look up to us or whatever: yo, you gotta watch what you’re saying because this is real life. Especially if you living the life, you know what could happen, you know the consequences. This is what happens.
Is it out of a fear of it coming back to you and haunting you? Or right now with this whole 6ix9ine thing, we’re seeing-
Exactly, shit like that. Shit like that could happen. This is real life, you never know what other people thinking about. You gotta stay on point.
Nah, definitely. So on the 6ix9ine topic, is that something that’s been sobering for you to see? Now that you’re just emerging into the music industry right now and seeing an export from your own-
Not really. That’s shit that happens in the hood all the time. This time it’s because it was 6ix9ine, it was broadcasted all across the world. This is what goes on.
Is there fear in wanting to stay to stay on the block and still have your career? Is it hard to balance both boats right now?
Yeah, you can’t do both. It’s impossible to do both.
So you released “No Suburban” two years ago, and now you’re here with your latest project. What’s the biggest difference in your life, both creatively and personally, compared to back then?
Everything is different. We getting money now, everything is different. We got fans, we got people that look up to us. We got a message we gotta release to people. Everything. Everything is different.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year now?
*laughs* They gotta tune in for that. Way more heat on the way. I'm about to take over.
Can we expect you to go on tour in 2020? Is there any other project on the way, or follow up?
Dope, when can we expect that, 2020?
Yup, most likely the end of the year.
Ok, word. I really appreciate it, man.
Alright, good looking.