“I overcame all these obstacles by my faith in God and my faith in just being who I truly am and that everything will fall into place if I remain focused.”
Check out the interview with George Okuku exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
Skilly: How were you able to start your journey in the entertainment business? Where did this all start?
George Okuku: I started rapping and writing my raps at 13. It was the ending of 8th grade. The reason for me making music came from a place of always wanting to change how society viewed us kids from St. Paul, MN. Also, to bring a new vibe to this generation. This isn’t the 90’s with Tupac and all the MCs that told you reality. I believe we can bridge that gap for this generation and come from a place of “this is who I am” instead of living up to an image. I also played the guitar and sang.
What are some of the creative ways you use to promote your music?
I use social media. I deleted My Snapchat but I’m reconsidering. I post most of my latest records on YouTube. I use a lot of hashtags and I try to put little messages with the links to my records to try to get the audience to raise their eyebrows like “hmm maybe this is interesting.”
What is the greatest challenge you face in today’s entertainment business? How do you overcome them?
Some people see my last name (Okuku) and are skeptical thinking it’s going to be some low-brand African raggedy stuff. My African heritage has unfortunately put initial doubt on me regardless of being raised in St. Paul. I’ve seen the harsh realities of friends who were gang-banging, dealing drugs, and sex etc. I overcame all these obstacles by my faith in God and my faith in just being who I truly am and that everything will fall into place if I remain focused.
How is the music scene like in your hometown? What do you like about it and what don’t you like?
The music scene in my hometown is pretty retro. The only 2 top artists to come out of this state are Prince (R.I.P.) and Bob Dylan. That means it’s up to people like me to bring refreshing lyrical wittiness to hard driving rhythms. What I don’t like personally is that every artist in MN trying to copy that Chicago drill sound. I get it if you’re from Chicago living up here in St. Paul or Minneapolis but if not- stop it. Don’t get me wrong like shit still goes down in St. Paul and Minneapolis but the death rates here are incomparable to “Chiraq.”
Where do you think the future of music is going? How do you feel artists can be more a part of it?
Music now is all about being yourself to the full. Like I said before we aren’t in the 90s no more when Gangsta Rap was the hot thing. Artists now are expressing their true emotions on the mic. This truly is the generation for the indie artists/rappers like me.
What advice can you give to other upcoming artists and musicians trying to achieve success?
1. Be true to yourself
2. Never try to be like anyone else.
3. Think outside the box with your records and projects.
4. Practice and always keep developing your artistry.
5. Work hard
6. Learn from the greats. Learn what made them unique and their style and use that to gauge where you would like to go with your records.
7. Focus and have fun.
What inspires you to write your next song?
God. I always find inspiration in the everyday realities of this world. Whether in my city, relationships, or anywhere in the world. I like to think from different perspectives, for example, not just crime, but both sides. Like what inspired a robber to rob?
What are the steps you take to make a song?
1. I listen to the beat (Instrumental) to get a feel for it.
2. I pen down all my thoughts as the beat is playing through almost in like a poetic type of cadence but still listening to the true intent of the beat.
3. When it comes to the hooks I write something that can catch the audiences attention but is still conscious.
4. I rehearse my lines (verse & hooks) over and over till I get it down tight and right and on sync with the rhythm.
5. I hop in the booth usually with my homie Billy (he’s the Head Producer for the label). He lets me know where I can put certain vocal inflections to help the song stand out more.
6. I record it, take until I find a take that really suits my taste and liking for the song.
7. We (Billy most the time sometimes me also) mix/master the finished song on FL Studio and drop it when I deem appropriate.
What do you think makes a great song?
The intention! Are you making a record that could change and elevate lives or are you making a banger for the clubs. I’ve always tried to convey the everyday human realities that we go through within my music and the movement I’ve started (The 777 Movement).
Where can we connect with you? Can you give us your social media links and where we can contact you?
IG Page: https://www.instagram.com/killagorilla777/?hl=en