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G Herbo rebounds from pandemic, eager to show fans how ‘I’ve grown as an artist’

As he mourns his late friend Lil Greg, the Chicago native says a desire to do the right thing helps motivate him to keep going.

G Herbo’s chart-topping album “25” was his most personal and revealing.
Von Jovey

South Shore’s own Herbert Wright, better known as the rapper and street humanitarian G Herbo, always struggled to have a decent show in Chicago for one reason or another. And as the global pandemic hit Illinois, the tour from his previous album, “P.T.S.D.” was canceled before it could come to The Forge in Joliet.

Now, Herb is making a grand return to his city alongside rising hip-hop acts DCG Brothers and Lil Zay Osama, performing his chart-topping third album, “25,” on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the sold-out Monster Energy Outbreak Tour.

“It’s a special time because I was on tour when the pandemic first hit and I couldn’t finish my tour and the fans didn’t get a chance to see me. It got shut down right before my Chicago show and it was the first time my fans have been able to see me in Chicago in about two years, so I’m excited. I ended up missing 15 shows on my [last] tour so I’m excited to get back on the road to see my fans again,” said Herbo as he was on his daddy duties at a photoshoot in Los Angeles, where he now resides.

And while the tour requires all attendees to either be vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test and a mask to enter, the 26-year-old rapper is intent on demonstrating his growth as an artist and performer since his last album.

“I’m really just focused on having a good time and completing the run, really. I’m hoping that my fans, myself, my staff, my team and everybody on the road with me are safe, but I really gotta focus on one thing at a time and focus on getting through the Chicago run safely,” he said.

“I’ve grown as an artist and the stage is different, the production is different. My fans have grown with me. Whether it’s one month, six months, a year span, I’m never the same artist. It’s a completely different show because I’ve gotten better.”

As Chicago’s hottest young rap trio DCG Brothers and the Bronzeville-bred Lil Zay Osama add their shine to the tour, Herb says that he learns a lot from them, just as much as they do from him.

“Iron sharpens iron. I always try to show love to artists up-and-coming from the city. I’m in L.A. now and I’m always home, don’t get me wrong, but in a way, I still feel disconnected to the youth and what they’re doing, so I got to embrace them. These kids are coming out young now — 16, 17, 18 years old — so they’re experiencing a whole different wave from when I was 18. I have to connect with them and it’s gonna make you as much of a better artist as it’s making them,” he said.

And as G Herbo — who got his first taste of fame from this groundbreaking duet “Kill S- - -” with Lil Bibby, continues to promote his most personal, revealing album “25” and giving back to the city with his Swervin’ Through Stress mental health initiative — he has struggled with mourning his best friend Lil Greg, who was shot to death in January in a South Loop barbershop.

G Herbo carries a bag of fruit during a food drive event on Oct. 17, 2020, at the Pullman Community Center.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“That’s my brother, our families are connected. I can’t say my favorite memories of him because when you’re that connected, it’s way too many memories for me to think of one. I spent every day with him for the past 18 years of my life,” he said before adding that he sought out various motivations to keep going while grieving.

“You got to find something to motivate yourself to keep going whether it’s my kids, his kids, family, just staying strong, making sure you do the right thing, and keep going. Whenever you have people in your life that was genuine, they wouldn’t want you to get on the wrong track or get sidetracked,” said the rapper, who declined to comment on a federal indictment alleging he made purchases using stolen credit card details and IDs and lied to a federal agent.

Still, G Herbo, a young elder statesman of the Chicago Drill scene, says he’s focused on becoming as big as possible now, while still balancing his responsibilities as a father of two children.

“I’m a grown man, a father now,” he said. “I’m more so trying to break into being a global artist. My lifestyle changed in a lot of ways.”