Over the past year or so, Parkdale-native rapper, G Body, has cemented a name for himself as one of the most promising new rappers coming out of Toronto. With a unique flow, careful lyricism, and an undeniably authentic energy, this community-minded artist let’s his work do the talking when it comes to representing – not just himself, but also – the neighborhood that shaped him.
2019 saw the release of his dynamic 8-track EP, Project Cat, with his single “Gangland” gaining him critical acclaim and amassing nearly 500k views on total streaming platforms. Adamant to prove to the world that he is not just a musician, but an all-around creative visionary too, G body makes sure he plays a heavy role in all the behind-the-scene work that goes into bringing his concepts to life.
Despite his fiery drive and unwavering determination, Body remains one of the most humble and down-to-earth individuals; more than willing to open up about his personal journey and offer advice to those on the come-up.
Check out the full interview below, where G Body discusses his early inspirations, his approach to creativity, the importance of breaking the boundaries others set for you, and his strive to put Parkdale on the map.
So first off, how did you get your name?
A lot of the older guys in the neighborhood I grew up in used to call me hard body because of my physique, from playing basketball and sports. They just used to say “oh this guy is hard bodied” y’know. So, it just stuck with me, and when it came to coming up with a name for my music I just stuck with the body part and added the G for God.
What was your earliest memory of music, and do you remember the exact moment you thought to yourself that this was what you wanted to be doing for the rest of your life?
When I was about, I wanna say 8 or 9, I went to a Lil Bow Wow concert. It wasn’t even anything big either, it was like in the parking lot of a Walmart down here y’know. And he came down, and I’d only seen him perform like two songs. But just seeing him so young, and up on the stage like that, I remember thinking like “that’s what I wanna be. I wanna be a star. “
What kind of music did you/your parents grow up listening to, has it/does it continue to inspire your sound?
Definitely, I’m an only child so I got to like, choose a lot of the music we listened to around the house. But my mom also listened to all types of things, not just “urban” music and stuff like that, she listened to a lot of soft punk rock, a lot of Courtney Love, and like ABBA, and Jon B. and stuff like that. So, I’d say I’m pretty cultured when it comes to music, like I’ve heard it all. We also grew up on a lot of Mary J Blige too though, like RnB was a pretty strong influence in my household, a lot of soft rock too though ahah. I think that’s where I get my like, Rockstar style y’know what I mean.
Yeah, I see that, I definitely see those influences in your work. But if you were to give me the top 3 artists that you were listening to when you were younger, that left a lasting impression on you and your style today, who would they be?
I would break it down to: Nas, DMX, and 50 Cent.
For Nas, as a young kid, he really helped me determine what kind of man I wanted to be y’know. Like what kind of black man I wanted to be in this world, and who I wanted people to see me as. He always had this clean cut, gangster image, and I loved that.
I always took to DMX’s energy, like his fierceness and his hunger. I always thought that was something admirable, and that that was something I wanted to be.
And then, 50 Cent, it was really when I fell in love with music, and I was finding my sound kind of, I was like oh this guy; if I’m gonna make music, I want it to be like this guy’s stuff.
Yeah honestly, I do hear a lot of similarities with you and Pop Smoke’s sounds. Especially with your most recent single, Dickie’s, I remember hearing it and just immediately picking up on the Smoke influence.
Yeah, *laughs* that’s true. I’d say my style has a lot of New York influence to it.
What’s your favorite part about this line of work? And your least favorite?
There’s not much I don’t like about this to be honest. I really truly love the game. I love being a creative, and an artist. I love everything about it. In terms of my least favorite, if I had to pick something it would just be the fakeness, y’know? But I think that just comes with the territory. I just think it should be harder to get in the game, and this is coming from someone who isn’t even technically “in” the game *laughs*, I think it’s too easy to make music nowadays and proclaim yourself as an artist but should you really be allowed the title? I know a bunch of guys who work with tech and know how to run up their numbers online, and make it seem like they have fans and they’re getting the streams and they’re doing something, but what are you really doing it for? I don’t think enough people do it for the right reasons these days, too many people just want to call themselves musicians for the fame, for the clout. It’s important that people really want to be here for the culture, that can’t be a lost concept.
I agree, but I do think people pick up on authenticity – or a lack of it – more than we’d think.
Yeah I’d hope so.
What’s a day in the life of G body like?
Well a typical day involves a good two to three hours of responding to emails and DMs and just getting ahead, and then getting high If I’m being honest *laughs*. Then I just listen to some beats, try to get creative y’know. My day really revolves around making music and I love it. It’s just been like this for the last 16 months, and I feel really blessed to be in this stage, to be able to just focus on creating.
Leading from that, what’s your creative process like? Do you have any practices or traditions that get you in the zone? Is it more random?
I’m a very photogenic person, so when I see things that inspire me, they always kind of stick in my mind, so once I listen to a beat for the first time, I already have a bunch of material I can pull out. So, at that point, it’s really about the cadence of the song, and the direction it tells me to go in. I’m just a writer so I’ll write wherever, and it’s very important for me that the lyrics are what people focus on, because I know that stuff lasts forever. I like to think of myself as a storyteller too, so I always tell people around me to be careful, because something they say could end up in one of my songs *laughs*.
What’s something not many people know about you – and would surprise people to know?
I mean other than my stance on women, I don’t really know aha. I played hockey growing up, which was kind of awkward as a black person.
Oh yeah? Why did you feel that?
It was just politics; it was a different time; that’s the only way I’d know how to describe it. We hadn’t gotten as far as we are now, black people weren’t really accepted in things like that, the things we were told we were able to do, and how far we were told we were able to go, wasn’t the same as what we see and hear now. I just wasn’t very encouraged back then to pursue it, I didn’t feel like I had a lot of fight in me when someone tried to take it away from me.
I feel you, sometimes people get so caught up in putting everything into boxes, and making people feel like they’re doing something wrong if they try to explore things outside of those “acceptable” boundaries.
Yeah exactly, but things are slowly changing, hopefully.
Gangland is probably your most successful track to date, but what’s your personal favorite track that you’ve ever recorded? How does it represent you as an artist and how you’d like to be seen.
I love Gangland to be honest, it’s just a very fun record. Something just happened during Gangland. I actually always tell people the story because around that time I was working on my project, I had just finished it and my engineer told me “you need to stop making new music!” because I just kept coming up with new stuff. But that was when I actually made probably three of my favorite tracks off the album: Hot Boy, Rapper Snatcher, and Gangland; they really came at the last second. I had written Rapper Snatcher first, then everything just flowed. I wrote Gangland in 7 minutes; it was as if the song wrote itself the second I heard the beat. I think it was just very organic and people really responded to that. And it’s very personal to me, because I think it just captures the truest energy of Parkdale, like the second we wrapped up shooting the video that day we just all looked at each other like we knew we had just made something big. Those are the moments you search for in this game.
Your EP album “Project Cat” was released last year, what was the most important thing you learned during the process of creating it?
Just to take your time. I was very keen at that point to release something because I had been in the industry for about two years by then and I felt like just putting out singles wasn’t enough. I really wanted to put out a whole project at that point, but I also knew I had to take my time. I didn’t even have management at the time, it was just me and my engineer doing everything start to finish; I even did the artwork for it. It was a little draining, but I wouldn’t take a single thing back, and now I know how important it is to take your time and have fun with it; build your audience, and really learn what they want to hear from you.
What’s some advice you received that you think others should hear?
Just to keep your energy, your authentic energy. I was actually talking to (OVO) 40 around the time I was coming out, and he could see the weight I had on my shoulders coming from where I did, to represent that and myself. And he just told me, “slow down, have fun, don’t rush, keep your energy. It’s only a burden if you want it to be.” You can be anyone you want to, you can decide to be someone then switch it up, you can sing if you’re a rapper, you can change your whole life at any point, and as long as you keep that energy, people are always going to respond well to it.
That’s definitely some pretty sage advice.
So right off the top of your head, what do you think sets you apart as an artist in this era?
I would have to say my tone, and my voice. I just don’t think I sound like any of the Toronto artists out there right now. People usually think I come from the UK, or New York even. Right off the bat I think people pick up on the authenticity of my tone, we don’t use autotune or any of that and I think that that translates. Other than that, honestly just my message. A lot of people push the neighborhood agenda, but anyone that knows my message knows that I’m not really like “the hood the hood,” it’s more about empowering the community, the village. Focusing on the good things coming out of there. I think Parkdale is just so different from any other neighborhood in the city, and I think that my strive to keep pushing that narrative, is really what separates me from other people artists from the city.
So, coming from that, what is the one message you’d like people to take away from your music.
I want people to know there’s a very artistic side to me, and to my neighborhood. I think people know it already but not as much as they should. There’s all sorts of galleries and sources of inspiration coming out of Parkdale; people come from outside to host shows and events here, and Parkdale never gets the credit it deserves for that. So, for the last couple of years I’d say that’s really been my motive, just getting Parkdale the recognition and the pat on the back that it’s deserved. I think it’s going to take someone like myself who’s ready to take on that burden and be like “I’ll take everything. The good and the bad, just pay attention to us.”