By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
Between the South and the Midwest, there is a connection, as there are a good number of rappers from both regions that sound alike. The poster child for this was the city of St. Louis, based in the Midwest, but with a sound more in-tune with the South. Even rappers with different styles boasted a Southern twang.
Traveling has become easier than ever, so no person born in one place is prohibited from growing up elsewhere. Ell Baby, best-known for being a member of The Grip Boyz, was born and raised in St. Louis, along with Lil Hood. However, the two did not come together until years later, when they met in Texas.
Ell Baby travels back and forth from St. Louis to Texas and he is currently working on several projects. Among the things Ell Baby has in the works are mixtapes, a new album, and even a documentary. Hip Hop Vibe’s first On the Rise artist of 2013 has a multitude of projects in the works, which he spoke about.
Read the entire interview below:
How do you feel about the current state of St. Louis hip hop? I don’t like the state of St. Louis hip hop. Because of the music that comes from known major artist from the Lou, we get no respect for trying to express what’s really going on in St. Louis. StL artist are expected to Be the new Nellys and Chingys and I personally don’t know a lot of artists that rap like that. It’s savage out here, we have been in the top dangerous cities list for the last fifteen years, but nobody’s music at a major level shows that and express the reality of the StL.
When did you first act on your interest in music? Believe it our not, the first time I started music was in second grade. My teacher reported to my mother and the principal that I was intelligent beyond my years, but that I had ADHD and was always fighting. Because my foster mother refused to have me put on Ritalin, they wanted to explore some alternative routes. They asked me what I enjoyed and I told them music. They told me that if I would behave in class that they would enroll me in piano classes. I agreed and the rest is history.
What was it like when you first met Hood? I first met Hood at a club in Killeen, Texas. Both of us are from opposite sides of St. Louis. We had a mutual friend, named Jarvis Gallaway, may he Rest In Peace, who was also from St. Louis, but was murdered by KPD and he introduced us. It’s crazy too, because if we met in St. Louis, me and hood would have been fighting or shooting at each other because, at home, our sides don’t mix with each other at all.
Can you talk about how The Grip Boyz came together? Jarvis Gallaway started the grip Boyz. After he was killed me, and Hood decided that we would take Grip Boyz to the top out of respect and love for GWay. After that, we just grinded harder.
How do you manage the growing buzz of The Grip Boyz and an individual life? Managing being a father and a Grip Boy is Hard as hell (laughs). Like me, I have some medical issues that, at times, put me on pause from grinding on a short period of time and then, on top of that, I’m a father. I have my daughter 24/7. So, for 2012, I decided to take a year off and get my daughter potty trained, teach her numbers and colors, and so on and so forth. Now, I am back to focusing on my music in 2013. My daughter is now in an accelerated learning school and I have a nanny for her, it’s back to business.
Outside of the duo, what are some solo moves you have been making? Right now, I’m in St. Louis finishing my first mixtape with other St. Louis artists and I’m also recording a documentary about my life and my city. Then, next month, I travel back to Texas to finish the mixtape with my Texas affiliates. I am also working on features with Chief Keef and Level.
Who are the people you turn to in order to help you keep things going? I turn, first, to my brothers, Hood and the rest of the GBE Family, and then to my managers, Yahya of FAE and Jay Hill from World Wide Money. My promoter and friend, Donnell Whitfield from GBE, and finally and most of all my mama.
What are some of the solo projects you have in the works? Right now, I’m working on my mixtape, The Gooney Toon, and my album, Back With A Vengeance. Also, my DVD documentary, See No Evil, Speak No Evil.
What keeps you inspired to do what you do? My daughter, Kaylani Bre’Nae Elizabeth Roberts, who is my heart, my love, and my everything.
Watch “Polo Swaggin'” by Ell Baby and Lil Hood (of the Grip Boyz) below: