Music has always been part of life for Chicago rapper GBO (that’s two syllables, G-Boh). Ever Since he was a kid, he loved to write music and create songs. He wrote and created his first song at the age of 15. He hasn’t created any music in a while.
Until this year, when he released three songs. The latest is “Gone Too Soon,” a tribute to friends and loved ones no longer with him.
“Through the years, a lot of people close to me have passed away,” he said. “Some of my best friends are gone. Some of my family members. I just wanted to make a song to remember them and say it’s not the end, to stay positive, and to put out a good message.”
The message comes with a guitar meditation behind Philadelphia singer Rachel Philipp’s chorus and a soft drumbeat punctuating GBO’s rap:
Every minute with a loved one’s like a blessing to me
Your friendship’s like a circle that never ends
You’re the brother I never had, my best friend
I know your spirit lives on through my pen
Now as I pray, I say a-men.
“I just know I like to make music,” he said, “and recently I got back into it because I really enjoy it.”
Music “is my passion now,” but back in the early years it was more of an escape. He doesn’t talk much about that time, believing excessive detail would be a distraction from his music, but he did say he had a difficult childhood in a bad neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.
“Music would get me through everything,” he said.
Now, if things work out well, he wants to make his living from music. When he wrote those earlier songs, the music business was different, much more difficult to navigate. Today, with online music platforms and social media to help build a fanbase, music and a music career are much more “accessible.”
More accessibility makes collaboration easier. “Gone Too Soon” features Rachel on the chorus (“She did a phenomenal job.”), and his first two, “Rebound” and “Pushing Me” feature St. Laurent Don on hard-edged trap tracks.
“I’m just gonna start making my music, making my songs, see how it comes out and go from there.”
In his youth he listened to a lot of rock, from Elvis to Metallica, pop, “pretty much throw it in, I listened to it.” He also listened to hip hop — Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre, “just everything you can think of” — and his music now is rap, whereas his teen music was more singing.
“Hip hop and trap music,” he said. “I try to keep it more modern because the music’s always evolving. I try to see what’s hot right now and listen to some songs and work from there.
He writes lyrics to beats he likes.
“I look for something I can vibe with. If I’m listening to it and I feel like good about it, I start writing and take it from there. Like in ‘Gone Too Soon,’ I was listening to it, and I just started thinking like, the beat gave me a sad feeling, so I’m gonna write a sad song.”
In the process, he adjusted both the beat the and lyrics and ended up making a soulful, meditative “Gone Too Soon” that lifts the spirit rather than saddens it, and while the melodic chorus pleases the ear, GBO’s rap engages the pulse.
“I write music from many different perspectives,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just want people to enjoy it, to feel something from it, whether it’s in having fun or whether it’s like ‘Gone Too Soon,’ being sad. That’s the most you can ask for, that somebody connects with your music? They get it. They understand.”
Making a good career out of music would be nice, he said, but he is learning the business. He plans to do live performances, but that is a different process than writing, rapping and releasing tracks, and he is still feeling his way into that. He is exploring hiring a manager and expanding his presence on music and video platforms.
Meantime, he is writing, people are listening, and he is building a fanbase.
“I try not to have any expectations, because if I don’t have any expectations, and I see people listening to it, and people like it, and people connect to me, I get excited, right? Because my expectation was nothing. My expectation right now is, let’s see where it goes, see what I can do with it.”
To see where GBO goes and what he does, connect with him on these platforms for new music: