Los Angeles means a lot to King Lil G, and vice versa. Not only does the West Coast spitter represent for all the underdogs in hip-hop, he puts on for all the people who look like him. While it may seem like his target demographic is the Mexican-American community specifically, his pain and struggle is something that audiences from all over the world can relate to.
Real name Alex Gonzalez talks about positivity for the people in the ghetto. It doesn’t stop there. The 100 percent independent MC paves the way for all independent artists, painting the success story of someone who set a goal and worked their ass off to obtain that goal. There’s no cheat code when it comes to the music game, and King Lil G has been through it all.
Most recently, he overcame one of the biggest obstacles in his life, an experience that inspired his hit single “No Face No Ca$e.” Two years ago, it came out that G’s catalog worth approximately $420K was being auctioned without his consent. While music was and always will be his outlet, the thought of having a stranger or outsider take control of your royalties is absolutely bizarre.
Especially for G who built his foundation from the ground up, 100 percent through the quality and consistency of his rhymes. With his latest project Eternal, the 33-year-old showcases growth, maturity, strength and legacy. Still in 2019, he creates music for the “people who come from nothing and try to make something of themselves.” Nothing defines success greater than the people listening to your music.
L.A. Weekly caught up with G to discuss what exactly legally happened with his royalties, his desire to help immigrants who are separated from their families, and why exactly Eminem is his favorite rapper.
L.A. WEEKLY: How would you describe your sound?
KING LIL G: I’d describe myself as the rap version of Scarface when he was going from working at the sandwich stand to having things. A lifestyle, a beautiful wife, all that.
What does L.A. mean to you?
Los Angeles to me is a place where you can be of any color and you have a chance to be successful. This is coming from an immigrant. I feel I’ve been extremely blessed. Everybody’s always showed a lot of support. I don’t feel I’ve had any disadvantages. Whenever you want to get to a certain place, you have to work hard and not complain about it. That’s been my situation, so it’s been great. I don’t really have anything bad to say.
What exactly happened with your catalog worth $420k being auctioned without your consent?
I don’t think that was the actual price, but I was going through a scamming type of situation where I was breaking off my old management. The second I sent him a letter saying he was fired, he went and randomly had the masters to my music on something called Royalty Exchange without me being aware of it. I already him had in court in litigation asking him to come, he was avoiding it and suddenly my music was up for purchase. I annulled everything, it never got sold to anybody because I stopped them. Of course I had to wait for all the proceedings of the court, but eventually it got settled and everything went back to my name. I have all the rights to my music, everything’s good.
What did you learn from that experience?
Whenever you go into business with anybody, there should be a clear understanding — because just a verbal agreement is not enough. Most of the time, we do that with our friends and people we’re close to. We all make that mistake, I learned that lesson now. It’s all about contracts, paperwork and doing things legit.
“No Face No Ca$e” has over 3.5 million views on YouTube in less than 2 months. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
Actually I didn’t expect anything. I’m the type of man who doesn’t expect much because you never know where the song’s gonna go. Sometimes, the song you like the least blows up the most. I didn’t expect this.
What were you going through?
I was going through a lot of trust issues where I felt I couldn’t trust people. Naming it “No Face, No Ca$e,” it’s not about what you know but what you can prove. The rights to my music were going to be taken away from me! That’s what it was: no face, no case. I had all the evidence to show that was my music, but it was getting ripped away from me. If I didn’t have money to litigate through court, I would’ve lost it all. They wanted to take my YouTube channel, my Spotify… I swear to you, you don’t even understand what I was going through. It was taking me through a depression and I still had to make content, it was driving me crazy. But I made it. It was a testing point that God was under me. How strong can I be through everything?
Has music been a form of therapy for you?
It has! I’ve taken a lot of losses and deaths throughout the year, but music kept me at ground level.
You say “I do it for my mama because we had them hard times.” What was the household like growing up?
I never talk specifically about my mother or my family only because I come from an immigrant background. I really don’t like to touch on that, but I will say because I was in Mexico when we couldn’t even afford shoes at times. I really meant those type of things expect when it comes to writing music, you can’t put a bunch of information into one piece. My struggle: not having no shoes to wear, no food to eat, selling newspapers in Mexico in order to get by.
What does mama think now?
I haven’t really spoken to my mother since I was really young, but I’m the type of man who loves his mother regardless of anything. When I do get to speak to her, I’m going to introduce her to a fantastic life. All she needs to do is come into my life.
How’s it feel to have “Hopeless Boy” hit 45 million views?
That I never expected at all, only because that’s my underground type of music. I was rapping over boom bap beats and didn’t really intend for it to become a hit. I’m extremely surprised but I’m glad people can relate to my struggle. It makes me really happy to know other people went through what I went through. Hopefully my music can help and guide them the right way.
How do you plan to continue to use your platform to inspire others?
Right now, I want to pick a random country and give them a source of water. That’s what I’m about to get into. I know it sounds crazy but I have my business partners aligned, a lot of people who want to work and cooperate with us. That’s been in the works for a long time. Haven’t talked about it in other interviews only because back then, it was so far away from where I am now. I feel it turning into reality soon.
What was the creative process behind Eternal?
I just wanted to make music that made me happy and not something my fans expected me to do. Like “Hopeless Boy,” I wanted to make something that identified with me at the moment. Also want to introduce my fans to my new lifestyle. Now I’m living a lot different, I’m driving foreign cars. I want to show my fans that. I’m not the rapper who stood stuck in the ghetto, I’m successful and I want to introduce them to that as well.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point in your career?
I want to direct my own films: films for Netflix, independent films. I want to do exactly what I did with music. I want to show certain things, talk about certain things. The struggle when it comes to my people.
Who’s in your Top 5?
I’m only saying this because I believe in numbers: the more people you reach, the more successful the rapper. It’s not even about my favorite because my list would be a lot different. Number 1 is definitely Eminem. Eminem as far as making an impact in the culture. When it comes to worldwide success not only in the US, there’s no other artist in the world. I actually looked up these numbers and made the list at home. #2 would be Tupac, we already know all the reasons. West Coast identifies a lot with me. Third one: Outkast. Just the culture, the impact they made was extremely dope and I respect it. People forget. Shit, I gotta be the one to remind them. Plus they definitely have the numbers to prove that. #4 would be Biggie. #5 would be Jay Z. Absolutely.
Favorite Eminem song?
Damn there’s so many. The one he did with Nate Dogg! [sings beat] What’s the name of that one?
“‘Till I Collapse”?
There it is. I smoke a lot of weed, I couldn’t remember. [chuckles]
Talk about headlining Hollywood Palladium on September 14.
I feel like a Mexican boxer who’s about to have his first big fight in Las Vegas.
First? I saw you at The Fonda! Your fans show out.
This is the biggest show I’ve had to headline. I’ve had other shows with 18,000 to 20,000 people, but it was a collective of different artists. This is the biggest show I’ve done by myself, I’ve done the Nokia Theatre which is The Novo now, it was extremely successful. Sold that out as well, but I’m just excited. I hope all my fans can see my transition, what I have to bring. I’m gonna set up the stage extremely dope. I’ma bring them into my world.
What’s your favorite song to perform in a set?
“Ignorance.” “Ignorance” is my favorite song, my fans connect with it so much. I feel like I turn into somebody else. I’m able to really express my pain and what I’ve been through. I’m able to give advice to the little homies, everybody in the crowd without having a conversation with them — which is the most important thing to me. When fans meet me at my Meet & Greets, I love giving them advice. I love saying “what’s up man, [dabs hand] tell me a little bit about you. ” But I can’t do that because M&Gs don’t take so long. On stage, I can really talk to them and they can feel me. They can know success is in our destiny if we put it there.
You’re a huge role model just as an independent artist because a lot of artists feel they need a major label to succeed. Can you talk about some of the struggles?
You’re probably gonna be really frustrated because you want a certain type of recognition that only a major label can give you because of the relationships. I advise all independent artists to not lose it when it comes to that. Continue dropping great music your fans are gonna like. The second you grow your fanbase, that’s when you’re going to be successful. You don’t need anything else. That discourages a lot of artists because they’re looking for that XXL, that major push. But in reality, you don’t ever need it. If your fans are the ones who certify you, you’re good. My fans were the ones who certified me. It wasn’t a collab. I can’t tell you ‘I did a song with this artist’ and boom, I got a major hit. I can’t say I had a record deal with someone who blew up. It was my music the whole time and fans who really supported me. If you’re an independent artist, stick to that and you’ll be successful.
Anything else you want to let us know?
I want everybody to know that something has to be done to help those kids at the border who are being torn from their families. If they receive this message and can do something about it, then let’s move on it.
What is the solution?
I really don’t know but I’m hoping someone with political gain can hear my message. They’re the ones who can intervene and somehow create a program or get donations from artists like me. We can build a facility for these kids, also for their parents to be able to see them. If we could put this facility on the other side of the border not necessarily in the U.S., that’d help because the parents could see them. At the same time, we could give them housing and food. Because remember, they’re being deported. They don’t have nothing over there in that country they belong to. I want people to be very mindful of that. When they’re sending people back to their country, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a home there. They’re literally being sent to a strange place with no friends, no family, no nothing. With toddlers! We have to be mindful. The only reason we have the society we have today is because we’re people with a good heart, that’s why America is so great. We just have to care about people, especially young kids.
King Lil G performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 14 at the Hollywood Palladium.