[HC:Interviews] Todd G
In many ways hip hop has become a caricature of itself, where so many rappers are playing and singing hard but living soft. Not to say that the “hard life” is a desirable style, but it is inspiring to meet someone who has walked the dark roads, found the light and works through music and motorcycles to help others to change course. Whether its hitting the road with the Gorilla Gospel MC, writing rhymes cast in real life for Gorilla Gospel Records, or speaking in venues from prisons to schools with Gorilla Gospel Ministries, Todd G is putting his life story and talents to work to bring good news where it can change lives. Todd G’s latest album, The Light, is available now stacked with 11 tracks of the signature method and message of Gorilla Gospel Records featuring artists such as JB The Don (A.K.A. Preacher J), KB The New, Cool Nutz, Arjay, J-Philly, Michael Kay, Hi-Q and more.
People often hear Christian rapper and are quick to dismiss it as second class to “real rap”, how do you maintain the essence of hip-hop and share a positive message?
Todd G: I have always just rapped about my life and what I am going through. I did that as a secular rapper, and I now do that with the music I make as well. I just put the truth as I know it above everything else and record. Like Cool Nutz once told me, “There is no recipe for being real, you just are or your not.” That’s what’s up.
You are proud and ready to share your life story with others, what did it look like in your life when you first felt God moving in your life?
TG: When God first began to move in my life I didn’t want to move with Him. I had been in a groove of negativity and crime for so long that I was more comfortable there. But, God is bigger than that and had other plans for me. All the credit goes to Him because I pretty much didn’t do anything but obstruct His plans.
How do you keep fresh in your pursuit of Christ and the purpose you believe He has designed you for?
TG: I follow what we call the three legged stool. Three things: Prayer, Reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other believers. I feel like you gotta practice all three with consistency in your life to maintain balance – like a three legged stool. If things start going haywire, I can usually pin point it back to one of those areas lacking in my life. Me, personally, I gotta read my Bible everyday. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. It’s necessary, for me….and as far as His (God’s) purpose, I find that you gotta slow it down pretty often, get away, get in the quiet away from all the noise of the world that keeps us distracted. God will speak to you, it’s our job to get to where we can hear Him…Word?
Where do you draw inspiration from and who keeps you accountable to your purpose?
TG: I have a Men’s Group Bible study that meets each Tuesday. It’s basically an accountability group. I also lift weights with a guy that helps me be accountable in the gym and in life…I get inspiration from Church, The Bible, other believers, and sometimes from music. I just listened to a Lecrae album the other day and it was major as far as getting spiritually “fed”.
Gorilla Gospel is one aspect of what you do, for those who are unfamiliar with these efforts – what is Gorilla Gospel and what are you and your team doing through this medium?
TG: Gorilla Gospel is our ministry, record label and MC (Motorcycle Club). We put out records and the club is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity where we ride hard and help our brothers get assimilated back into healthy lives after prison, crime, drama, whatever. It’s a brotherhood for guys like us who are headed towards the right direction and want to make our lives and the world better. Give, rather than take. My Gorillas have done a lot of taking. Now we give back. I still travel and do speaking engagements as well.
You’ve been involved with Northwest hip-hop since 1989, what have been some of the most significant changes you have seen in the scene?
TG: Shoot, the Northwest has went from a few rappers to a few rappers on every street. That’s cool. Although it does tend to get a bit over saturated and at times the over all quality of the music suffers. Home studios were the best and worst invention ever for Hip Hop. But I will say that I love the Northwest and I represent that culture and vibe world wide, literally.
You have performed locally, nationally and internationally, what are some of the fondest memories from touring outside of your base here in Oregon?
TG: My fondest memories of touring are the first time I performed over seas in a huge venue. The crowd couldn’t even speak much English but thousands of kids were chanting my name, thanks to the Norwegian host leading them, and I stood back stage holding my cordless and tried not to cry for real. I was overwhelmed with where God had taken me to share what He has done in my life and I knew in my core I really didn’t deserve it. A second chance, a second life. It was crazy. Then I went out and chopped it up! It was good. My second tour over seas “Gangsta Boogie” with Cool Nutz was amazing. We had so much fun every day and Soren, who was the chief editor of Source Magazine came with us to cover the tour for the magazine…let’s just say before we even touched down on foreign soil, the flight attendants had asked us more than once to quiet down. We argued about who the greatest rappers ever were almost the entire flight! All in good fun though. *Next time you interview Nutz, ask him about turbulence above Greenland. Now THAT’S a story.
To Die For Records is your own label, when did you start TDFD and who do you work with to produce music?
TG: To Die 4 Records was started by me, Balou The Sasquatch and Tone Only back in 1999 to release Lisa Towner’s self titled debut CD. After that, Tone went to prison for murder and we moved out of the R&B game and got back into rap. We knew that market better and we had tried to market a pop/r&b project through hip hop channels and avenues and it quite honestly didn’t work. It was fun though. Then we put out Northwest Game the Compiliation – back when independent records actually sold with very little promotion. The rest is history.
The Light is your latest release dropping in 2011, will this be classic Todd G or do you have some new elements to unleash with this album?
TG: The Light is out now. And it is an album I am very happy with. It is a bit more aggressive in parts, but again, it is very true to where I am at right now. All my records really document the time and season of life I am in. Chopper Music is Gorilla Gospel album #7 and it’s crazy! It’s like hardcore west coast rap for new school bikers mixed with my testimony and our club biz. It’s cool. At least I think so. lol.
What else is in the mix for Todd G in 2011?
TG: This year we are going hard with the motorcycle club. We just got back from the Laughlin River Run in Nevada and we are on a roll. We got a lot of runs and events coming up soon. Check out www.gorillagospel.com for the updates.
Todd G (Hip Hop – Porltand, OR) latest album The Light (Gorilla Gospel Records) is available now at CD Baby, keep up to date at www.toddgministries.com
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He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8