Today’s underground rap scene is filled with a staggering amount of rappers who all sound the same. Their sound and style is simply unoriginal. The delivery of lyrics which is commonly referred to as a “flow” appears to have dwindled down to a simple mathematical equation; recite a sentence or phrase that sounds catchy, add a word that is connected in some way to the phrase, and that rhymes with whatever word was the main focus of the previous sentence, then repeat. If performed correctly, this once innovative technique of rapping that was made mainstream by rappers like Drake, Big Sean, and a handful of others, would result in smash hit after smash hit.
On a chalkboard it might look something like this:
(Catchy Phrase+Word that Rhymes)x16=Hit Song.
The 16 representing the number of bars most people would say a rap verse consists of.
However the style that was once unique to a handful of mainstream artists has now become the calling card of hundreds of amateur rappers. It seems like every kid who has the dream of selling out arenas with thousands of fans screaming to hear their music just decided to fill the Internet with music that for the most part, all sounds the same. There are literally thousands of songs available online, created by rappers who have no real sense of identity.
Enter G4SHI, an artist who immigrated to the United States as a child [immigrated from where?]. His flow and delivery of lyrics are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise polluted rap scene. G4SHI has recaptured the sense of originality that once gave Hip Hop its rebel identity. His music has all the elements of today’s popular rap songs, however, the lyrics in his songs along with his prolific height; 6’4” are what puts the 22-year-old rapper above the rest of the underground rap community. A.R.T.S.Y. Magazine sat down with G4SHI at The Hundreds store in New York City to get the latest scoop on the up and coming rapper.
A.R.T.S.Y: So could you tell us a little bit about your roots, where were you born, where were you raised, how old were you when you came to America, and what you remember from the time before you got to New York City?
G4SHI: Damn, well I came here in 1998, really ’97. It was like two days before New Year’s. Came ’98, I was born in Libya, Africa. I’m a refugee, an Albanian refugee. Both of my parents are from Kosovo, which is in Albania. I’m an Albanian refugee who was born in Libya and traveled the world to get to America [where] I came and lived in Brooklyn in 1998.
A.R.T.S.Y: How were you introduced to hip-hop?
G4SHI: I was introduced to hip-hop through my brother. When I was younger and I was in Libya, the first like real hip-hop song I ever heard was, this is corny as hell, was Coolio yo. Coolio was the first kind of rap sh*t I ever heard, but I was really influenced by Michael Jackson. I really got into hip-hop when I came to America. I mean I also listened to pop music, not just hip-hop. My brother kind of introduced me to DMX and all the stuff I was watching on TV.
A.R.T.S.Y: So how old were you?
G4SHI: When I started listening to hip-hop I was 12.
A.R.T.S.Y: When would you say you first started rapping?
G4SHI: I first started rapping when I was twelve years old.
A.R.T.S.Y: And when did you decide you wanted to be a rapper? As far as that’s what you want to do with your life.
G4SHI: Well when I was in my junior high school which was Ditmas, I always said I wanted to be a rapper you know what I’m sayin’. That was something I was focused on since I was a younger kid. But the thing that’s crazy is that I was such a good athlete that I thought I was gonna make it to the league or whatever. Well everyone else thought that I was gonna make it to the league.
A.R.T.S.Y: Which league?
G4SHI: The NFL (National Football League). So when people were like “yo you’re about to make it to the league…this and that,” in my mind I always wanted to be doing music and getting into the whole TV shit and do all that. I always loved music, but people were like “Yo you’re gonna be in the league.” I really didn’t go with that. I went to college and I played football. When I went to college I knew that playing sports was not my thing. That’s when I was like you know what? I’m gonna do music. So that was three to four years ago.
A.R.T.S.Y: That actually leads me to another question that I had. Now when you were in high school you were a prolific football and basketball player, you had articles written about you in the Daily News and stuff. Is it true you were offered a scholarship to play college football?
G4SHI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I received a full scholarship to play in Massachusetts.
A.R.T.S.Y: What school was it?
G4SHI: It was AIC. I played at AIC. Right near UMASS. Same school Cruz went to.
A.R.T.S.Y: Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver for the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants?
G4SHI: Yeah. I played football there. It was dope because you know, being a kid like me, you would’ve never thought I’d even be in America. So to get a f*cking full scholarship, to play football at school and have sh*t paid for was amazing.
A.R.T.S.Y: Wait, so then why did you decide to go with music over football?
G4SHI: Because. It’s not even football. It’s more like, you know, what’s the point of getting a degree if you’re not doing what you love? It’s like having two girlfriends. One girlfriend that’s really bad and that’s sexy as f*ck, and everybody’s like, “Yo, you should marry her because she’s hot.” And then you got that girl who she’s just cute, she’s not the most banging girl, but she’s just cute. But that’s the one you more comfortable with. That’s my music, that’s how I feel about my music.
A.R.T.S.Y: You said that Coolio and Michael Jackson were some of the people who influenced your love for hip-hop right. So then what rappers would you say influenced your music and are there any rappers you’ve modeled your flow after?
G4SHI: A lot of rappers influence me. The line goes on; you know what I’m sayin’. I’ve been influenced by Eminem. I’m influenced by Jay-Z, like you can hear it when I’m rapping [in] “In My Lifetime.” I’m using his flow…I’ve been influenced by a lot of Kanye. I’ve been influenced by a lot of the new rappers like Drake and J. Cole. I’m influenced by a lot of these new cats. But I can’t walk around saying I’m not influenced by anybody. You know, it’s nothing that’s bad, as soon as you start listening to a rapper; you start to sound like them. So my new shit now is; don’t listen to anybody. Like I tend to not even listen to a lot of rappers because as soon as I start listening to rap music, I start to sound like them man. It’s crazy and I don’t like it.
A.R.T.S.Y: Nice. So what would you say inspires you to rap? Like what is it you rap about?
G4SHI: Well, you know my first CD I rapped about my life and what I was going through. It’s always been like that. My inspirations always been like, my people, what I’ve seen, where I’ve been at, who I am. As a person, you know, everything inspires me. There’s not a day that I don’t meet somebody that inspires me. You know what I’m sayin’. Another thing that inspires me is seeing kids I came up with are getting signed now, and are getting three million dollar deals. Knowing that I was on the come up with them, at the same time, they just took off, know what I’m sayin’? That, that’s what inspires me.
A.R.T.S.Y: I see…now another thing I know is that you’ve had a couple performances, and I know you’ve been in a couple of competitions, so how many performances have you had?
G4SHI: Performances? I’ve done a lot, but not too many. I can’t say I’ve done a lot of performances, but every competition I’ve been in, as far as performing, I won. I’ve never lost.
A.R.T.S.Y: What competitions have you won though?
G4SHI: I did First Look where I won. I did this thing in my school where I won…I actually won three shows at my school. I’ve done this thing in Brooklyn where I won, Public Assembly, you know. If there’s a competition, I have to come out winning. As a rapper you need to have lyrics, presence, and all that other stuff. The good stuff; flow and image. But one thing that a lot of rappers now a days don’t have is stage presence and they don’t have crowd control, and that’s one thing that I’m blessed with and I have thank God for that.
A.R.T.S.Y: Nice, nice, nice. Alright so something else I want to ask is, are you sponsored in any way? Are you signed to a label right now?
G4SHI: Right now I’m not sponsored. Well I kind of am sponsored, ‘cause I do get free clothing. I get free clothing from, well I don’t know if you’ve heard of Deadline. I’m reppin’ Deadline right now. That’s one of my managers, somebody who helps me and guides me. I’ve gotten 10 Deep clothes for free. I fuck with The Hundreds too, you know. But I can say that now a days a lot of artists are not committed to a brand, so as far as artists getting free clothes, it’s very hard now a days, because you’ll hear an artist say “yeah, yeah, yeah I’m with this brand,” and then you’ll see them wearing a different brand because they’re not committed. I feel like as soon as an artist starts getting free clothes they start rocking something else that they can’t get.
A.R.T.S.Y: Interesting. So I know you’ve opened up for a couple of rappers. Could you tell us what rappers you have opened up for?
G4SHI: Well, I was on tour with Joe Budden, so I opened up for him. Rick Ross, Pusha-T, French Montana, I’ve opened up for Stalley, MMG (Maybach Music Group), you know a couple of artists here and there.
A.R.T.S.Y: What were those experiences like?
G4SHI: The experiences were cool, you know. As an artist, when no one knows you, the people that come to see that artist tend to just be like “fuck whoever’s opening up. If I don’t know him I’m not fucking with him.” I feel like the crowd needs to be accepting of new artists and shit. I was just speaking to [Kid] Cudi the other night. I was at his listening party [for WZRD] and he was just like, “Yo man I was at Santos and people were not fucking with me, and I told them one day you’ll see, one day you’ll see that I’ma do me.” And the same people that were not fucking with him at the Santos Party and when he was opening up, were not listening to his shit, he said those are the same people, the same faces he sees at his concerts now. So that’s what I advise to people, they will see me, and some of these people who are not listening to me will be at my shows in the future. Or their kids will steal a good twenty dollars from them to buy my CD.
A.R.T.S.Y: What would you say was the most memorable moment from the tours you went on with these rappers?
G4SHI: I mean the most memorable moment was being on tour with Joe Budden. That was pretty cool. Honestly though, as far as this whole music shit, the most memorable moment was just a couple of days ago; me being on the radio, that was like a big deal for me.
A.R.T.S.Y: What are audiences’ reactions like at the shows when they find out that you’re white?
G4SHI: Yo, it’s kind of like an advantage to keep it real, ‘cause I’m not just white, I’m a rare breed. I’m not just a regular white boy, you know? I can’t say that, like I don’t know what I am. That comes to me calling myself a weirdo, because weirdo means limited edition. It’s not about what you look like, it’s really who you are. I’m not gonna get a tattoo on my face and say that I’m a weirdo, that’s not what I’m saying. When I say weirdo it means you’re different. You know, being a white kid, I go up there and they’re expecting like the whole frat rap. I don’t do frat rap. I do real music.
A.R.T.S.Y: Do you think it affects their perception of you before hearing your music?
G4SHI: Yes. Yes it does.
A.R.T.S.Y: You mentioned weirdos, what’s weirdos, what’s that about?
G4SHI: What America did was they took the word weirdo and they made it a bad thing. If somebody looks different we go “oh they’re a weirdo.” Weirdo is limited edition. It means you’re different. There’s not too many like you, so I call my fans weirdos because I feel like I can know every single one of them by face. That means they’re limited edition, it means they’re creative in an original way.
A.R.T.S.Y: I know you have two mix-tapes out. Can you tell us what their names are, what label distributed them, and what dates did they drop?
G4SHI: Well I put out “Last Of A Rare Breed.” I put out a mix-tape before “Last Of A Rare Breed,” but it was just some sh*t with me just f*cking around in college called “The Kid Gashi.” I hopped on like two original beats and the rest were all industry beats, you’ll get it, it’s very bad quality but whatever. Then I came back with “Last Of A Rare Breed,” hosted by Don Cannon, who’s a big time DJ, he’s like the number one co-sign, him and DJ Drama, he co-signed my mix-tape. DJ Benzi co-signed me too and these are two big dudes who actually did Big Sean, and they did a lot of artists that are in the game right now, they co-signed my shit. I had French Montana on it, Nipsey Hussle, for “Last of a Rare Breed” and a couple of big song writers on it. Now I’m gonna drop “I’ll Be Right With You,” which is my new mix-tape. It doesn’t have too many features on it. It’s just me making my own beats with my own beat makers. So “Last of a Rare Breed” was all these famous people and all these people that are all producers that are already in the game. “I’ll Be Right With You” is more like, I’m messing with producers that are not in the game yet, so I’m trying to mess with people that are on the come up with me. I don’t want to mess with people that are in the game already. Even if I get signed today I’m not just gonna go do a song with somebody who’s been in the game for years. I’m gonna try to do a song with somebody who’s on the come up with me.
A.R.T.S.Y: What was the public’s reception of your mix-tapes?
G4SHI: “Last Of a Rare Breed” was pretty dope. I mean I got a huge buzz off of it, unlike a kid whose been doing this shit for years, like “Last Of A Rare Breed” had like a good hundred thousand downloads. All around the world, I had people from India, Albania download it. I’m not gonna say a hundred thousand on the dot, but I had thousands and thousands and thousands of downloads. It created a buzz. People actually took me serious, it was not a bullshit mix-tape, people took it serious, and they knew what it was.
A.R.T.S.Y: If you could pick 5 songs from “Last Of A Rare Breed,” which songs would you urge our readers to listen to?
G4SHI: “Never Coming Back” with Nipsey Hussle was a dope song. “Before I Start,” my intro just takes you in. It’s amazing. French Montana, who’s actually signed to Bad Boy right now, got a million dollar deal; we have a song called “Until the Day I Die,” which was supposed to be on HBO’s “How To Make It In America,” if the show had never gotten cancelled, it would have been featured on the show. The outro of “Last Of A Rare Breed.” I have a few; “Magic Moment” would be a dope record too. “I Walk the Line,” “Can’t Wait for the Lights,” I mean I have a lot of records on there.
A.R.T.S.Y: What’s the focus behind this next mix-tape?
G4SHI: The reason I called it “I’ll Be Right With You” is ‘cause people are like ‘Yo Gash man, you’re supposed to be signed yo, I’m surprised you’re not signed. “Last Of A Rare Breed” was such a dope mix- tape. You had all these big co-signs, you know French Montana’s huge in New York, he co-signed you,’ and it’s like yeah you’re right. I should be signed but “I’ll Be Right With You.” If you’re gonna tell me how come I haven’t made it yet, or how come you’re not here yet, why you ‘aint there yet, well yo just give me some time, I’ll be right with you. Stop calling me every second, telling me ‘yo the game calling you’ and I’m telling them, I’ll be right with you. It’s more like my struggle, what I’m doing now, the fact that I got kicked out the crib, I have no job, I’m broke as fuck, and I’m trying to make it and that’s what it’s about.
A.R.T.S.Y: Have you released any of the music on it yet?
G4SHI: Yes, I’ve released “Thirsty,” I’ve released “Rocket,” and I’m gonna release this song called “No More Dreaming.”
A.R.T.S.Y: Sweet! Now before we go you got any last words for our readers?
G4SHI: Yes! Just try to accept artists before judging them by what they look like. I might not be skinny, tatted up, and I might not be a regular white kid who just walks around talking about weed all day. I mean I do talk about weed but I’m not frat rap, and I’m not weed rap. I am a skater and I’m very urban. Just try not to judge people before hearing their music. Don’t judge artists only on how they look and how they dress. To all the new generation fans, if you’re reading this right now, don’t just like an artist by what he looks like, try to see what the music’s like before you like him because he’s wearing some dope sneakers.
You can listen to all of G4SHI’s music on Youtube and you can download his first mix-tape on Datpiff.com.
Article By: Pedro “Skinny P.” Bermejo
Photography: Gerardo Mendez