Yung Gwapa is here to better the rap game, paying no mind to any outside distractions. Born in Chicago but currently based in Atlanta, the “Thick Cinderella” rapper — a song he claims doesn’t represent his character — is making positive strives in both his personal life and rap career. It was right after his buzz began that he was sent to jail, a place he swears to never return. Read more…
What turned out to be a blessing in disguise, Gwapa quickly learned how to balance fatherhood and being a rapper, breaking old habits such as smoking marijuana. Adamant on creating music to uplift youth, he continues to touch on real-life experiences, use abstract metaphors, and preserve that real hip-hop sound.
Following a successful release of his Re-Rock EP earlier this year, fans can expect another great body of work coming at the top of the year.
For those who don’t know, who is Yung Gwapa?
Yung Gwapa is an artist, originated from the South Side of Chicago. Branched off, moved to the South early in my career. Been in the South ever since, pushing my brand.
Why did you move to the South?
There was just so much trouble and stuff to take my focus off my career back at home. It was more going on in the South with the music at the time, so I kind of branched off at an early age. Got down South and I had my little girl down there, so I ended up staying longer than planned.
Where’d you go first?
I first went to Tennessee. After I found out how close Georgia was and all the music stuff going on down there, I went to Atlanta.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I’m kind of in between because I’m very versatile. I got the gangsta rap, but the growth comes along with the music and everything. I stepped out the box a lot, depending on what type of artist I’m working with, what project I’m working on. Depending on the success I’m aiming for, things switch up a little bit.
You’re from Chicago, how does that play into your life and career?
Coming up in Chicago is so rough. It sets you up for life. All the violence and everything, it puts some toughness on you, and prepares you for all the trauma that comes with this. Just me coming from Chicago and meeting other artists that’s not from Chicago, it prepares you a little more for all the stuff that comes with this hip-hop and rap.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
LA is a big market. It’s very huge for music. As an up and coming artist, I think every individual that’s in the music game should come swing through LA. It’s good for media runs, and networking with artists that’s on a bigger scale than you. LA, Miami, Atlanta, New York, those places you’re going to have to stop by when you’re working your music.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
When I got the attention and feedback, and started seeing the growth in my fan base. When I found out that it was actually a gift, with the talent, etc. When I start making my first couple of dollars and my phone started ringing for features, I started taking it real, real serious. Then by me not wanting to work for nobody, and work no 9 to 5 or anything like that. I got a lot of friends that’s way bigger and major than me, so just seeing them get their income off this. Just taking care of family, buying homes, and living off something they like to do so much, it got me real serious.
Who are some artists you mob with?
I work with a lot of major artists. It’s not too much I can say I have personal friendships with, but I do have associates. Future, Young Scooter, Waka, Migos, Blac Youngsta, I worked with Rich the Kid. Linked up with a lot of LA artists, a lot of Detroit artists. Eastside Peezy and Icewear Vezzo, them two I rock with real tough.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
When I was coming up when I was younger, people were just calling me Money. I was really chasing the bag and just wanted to have money. My father left me like $200K when he passed away, so it put me in a position to be financial for a nice minute. Being so young with that money and not really knowing the moves to make and what to do with it, I got the nickname Money.
Then it was like “alright, I’m finna rap.” I started learning about copyright and I needed a name that would stand out and stick out. I was looking for a name to replace Money with. With the lingo, people call money ‘guap.’ But I looked up ‘guap’ and it was taken already, so I just put the ‘a’ on it. But right now, a lot of people call me Big Gwap or Gwapo. It’s so much slang going on, people make up and call you what they want to call you.
You recently posted a clip of you in the studio with the caption “feeding the streets.” What sets you apart from the other street rappers?
Honestly, I think a lot of street rappers think they think it’s lame to lead the youngsters. A lot of people feel like they’re going backwards if they’re motivating or helping the younger crowd to lead them in the right direction. Even though music is entertainment, you can rap about something you’re not doing anymore. It’s crazy that they want to hear the violent stuff and all the wrong stuff, but how the world is set up, that’s what sells. It’s based on entertainment, so a lot of times, you just have to play with it.
My music, I like to motivate, teach, uplift — just lead the younger artists that are up under me, in the right direction. I see a lot of artists be feeling like it’s lame when you do that. I don’t really think so much of it being lame, it’s some OG stuff to me. I keep that in a lot of my music. I ain’t scared to motivate, and I ain’t scared to tell a younger artist that he movin’ wrong. That’s what separates me a lot.
You just released Re-Rock EP. What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Everything I put out, I try and keep real. I paint the picture of my life and what’s going on, give the little messages I like to deliver in my music. I like to keep it realistic. It’s something on there for everybody, I kind of mixed it up. I’m working on another project right now, which is a 5 to 6 song EP. We gon’ kind of let it ride out real smooth, like how Re-Rock goes up and down, all over the place. I’m catering to so many people on the project, so I’m going to keep it more street on the EP and cater to my fan base. Re-Rock is a nice project, it’s kind of my biggest project. It’s like my 4th or 5th official project out. On this new EP, we’re going keep it smooth and keep it catered to my fanbase.
Only features on Re-Rock, because I was trying to keep it so much me, was Big Bank Black from Atlanta Georgia with Duct Tape Entertainment and Eastside Peezy from Detroit. I kept it real personal. For this one, I don’t want to spit it out because I want to keep it a surprise. But I’m willing to work with major artists on this project, some real major artists. It’s going to be a real shocking project.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point in your career?
We just trying to level up: see something we haven’t saw, get better situations. I got an artist I’m working with right now. I haven’t officially signed him, but we do have the paperwork ready to go. I just want to make sure it’s a nice correct move for me. Gsambo is very talented. He’s from Richmond, Virginia. He went through his troubled situations. He’s 19. Like I said, I’m one of them artists not scared to help. I’m trying to get involved early. Let him know how to move right, and not make the same mistakes I made. I’m trying to expand my label. We working on a movie right now. We still writing, trying to start shooting.
A movie about your life?
It’s kind of a twist, it’s a mix up. I’m going to throw them off with the film because I’m playing a character that they probably wouldn’t expect me to play. I know they probably expect me to play the gangsta dude from the streets, and I just want to show the talent. The all-round talent. If you notice all my videos I shoot, I put the movie twist in the beginning of them. We’re trying to go extra hard with the film.
How important is social media for your career?
It’s very important, because it’s a cheap way to expand your brand to the world. With Youtube, you can upload all day for free. People want to chase Worldstar and spend a big budget, and Youtube still gets more attention than Worldstar daily. People are watching Youtube like they watch the news. You got the youth to the adults, from a baby to a grandmother, watching Youtube on the regular. Social media is very important. It’s a way to reach out to the fans, build fans. I suggest artists to take advantage of that very, very strongly.
3 things you need in the studio?
Back in the day, I would say marijuana and all that stuff. But now, I’m so focused. I just get in there and go. I would probably need my personal people around for assistance, so I wouldn’t have to be in and out the studio for food breaks, etc. I don’t like a big crowd, so I need privacy. I need a solid engineer. It’s really hard to work with an engineer who doesn’t really know me or know how I move. That’s probably it. Some privacy and a solid engineer in the studio.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d probably be into sports. Basketball and football, I played them in high school. I was kind of good at football. Basketball was my thing too, but I was playing more football in high school. I wanted to take it serious, take it further, but the streets got involved. If my father was still alive and I wasn’t rapping, I’d probably be boxing. I’d probably be heavy into that.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Actually, one of my biggest fans to date, AD. He’s a white friend. He was a real fan. We kind of became real close friends. When I came home from jail, he took me shopping, just kicked it with me. He’ll sit in the studio with you for 8 hours. Go get your food, get your mind right. It kind of was a good look for me because I was the black thug guy, and it showed people that I could have those types of friends. It drew people in more like “okay, this dude got to be real cool to have a guy like this around.”
Shout out to AD.
He actually lives here in LA. He’s originally from Atlanta, he moved out here 2 years ago. Real close friend, real good dude. He started out as a fan, I moved to Atlanta. End up going to a store he was working at, did a little shopping. I was looking for some marijuana. I had a whole bunch of money in my bag. I was trying to prove to him I was trying to get something to smoke. I wasn’t trying to be on no bull crap. We just locked in after that. It was crazy. Every night, he was in the studio with me for 8 to 12 hours, just chilling. He would come pick me up, give me the car, all that type stuff. He was just a fan who turned in to a real good friend.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Besides me, I don’t really listen to music. If I listen to music, it will be something that somebody around me is playing. I don’t go looking for the new music. I couldn’t tell you the name of songs or what’s new. I don’t have nobody’s style. I’m so creative. If you pay attention to my music, I’m not the one to rhyme because I think it’s too easy. I like metaphors. I like to really throw you off. You know how you might listen to some music and before that next line comes, you can almost guess it? I like to really throw you off and really dig in there and create, just to have you not expecting what’s coming from me.
I really don’t listen to a lot of artists. Growing up I did. I listened to a lot of people like Jadakiss, I came up off a lot of Gucci. It’s weird, but I don’t know why I listened to a lot of Puff Daddy’s music. I’m not a fan of his music, no disrespect, because he did a lot of dancing music. It was like rap pop, but he was just such a smart dude. That’s what I paid attention to, how much money he was making. I definitely listened to a lot of Biggie, that’s my favorite artist. Everybody used to be like “how you chose Biggie over Tupac?” It was just his stories and his delivery. For him to do it with the image he had, the big guy, it just drew my attention a lot.
Well my dream collab wouldn’t be able to happen because he’s deceased. I don’t really have one big dream like “I want to work with this guy so much,” because I’m so into just giving these folks me. But I want to work with Jadakiss. I really want to work with Jadakiss.
Anything you want to let us know?
Follow me on all my social media sites. Instagram: @gokrazygwapa. Tune in to my website so we can get that real buzz in. Just tune in and wait on these new projects that’s coming. The EP is coming first quarter. We don’t have a title for it right now, I might self-title it. The film is coming. We got new merch and everything coming. The website is updated on a weekly basis. I just want people to mainly keep up with me.