Philadelphia native, executive, actor and rapper Gillie Da Kid walks with a confident demeanor. Grinding in the rap game since the late 90’s, Gillie Da Kid is a man on the brink of commercial success. Past recording deals with major players didn’t amount to the visibility Gillie required to take his career to the next level. Always an astute businessman, on the music front, Gillie’s partnership with Kansas City Chief Linebacker Tamba Hali makes his Figga Gang Entertainment/Religion Records debut, Welcome To Gilladelphia, aligned for success.
Gillie Da Kid started making a name for himself in the streets of Philly on the mixtape circuit. He was quickly scooped by Houston, Texas based Suave House Records, home to 8Ball & MJG. When the label lost distribution rights and Gillie was placed in a precarious situation. Instead of crumbling, Gillie Da Kid quickly assembled his Philly crew Major Figgas. Finding moderate success under the RuffNation Records/Warner Brothers house with the single “Yeah that’s Us,” the song charted for 16 weeks on the Rap Singles chart, peaking at the #2 position. Album sales for their debut Figgas 4 Life didn’t move, so Gillie Da Kid did. A chance meeting with Cash Money Records CEO Baby, led to Gillie’s signing with the New Orleans based brand. After four years of penning songs for label mates and releasing mixtapes, Gillie moved on from the CMB after discrepancies with refusing to relinquish his publishing. Gillie professes, “my time wasn’t there.”
Years have passed and Gillie remains relentless about his musical pursuits, “my music is still better than everybody’s. It’s a little bit of both, confidence and cockiness.” Enter Figga Gang Entertainment. “Figga Gang represents the streets, urban America all across the country. The have-nots and underdogs. Most CEO’s that are rappers are intimidated by me because they don’t have as much talent as me. It’s not arrogance or cockiness, it’s the truth.” That same brashness is also met by a warm sense of reflective humility. Gillie laments, “as I get older I look back on the things I’ve done and I can’t believe I’m not doing time. But it also lets me know that God has a different plan for me and I just have to stay the course.”
“Most CEO’s that are rappers are intimidated by me because they don’t have as much talent as me”
The oldest of three, raised in a Muslim household, GIllie clearly articulates the boundaries he sets to move through his personal and professional lives with such dexterity. “I’m from the streets. I’ve been locked up, shot up and at the same time I went to Cabrini College. I know how to be a chameleon in any situation.” Conversely, testing those boundaries is met with firm resolve, as Gillie describes, “I grew up in a religious household. I was always taught God first because nothing else can get you into heaven. So it always stays with me.”
There’s something about the rawness that exudes from Gillie Da Kid [the rapper], Gill Smith [the actor] and Spike G. [the producer]. Ving Rhames was instantly drawn to his raw talent that he wanted to give Gillie a shot. “People have always said Gillie; you’d be a great actor. It isn’t until you get in front of that camera whether you know if it’s real or not.” Three years and eight movies later, including Caged Animal, Streets and the forthcoming Mafia, Gillie is focused on the big picture – “that’s God saying, they ain’t going to be able to overlook you for long. Just keep having faith, patience and perseverance.”
“Just keep having faith, patience and perseverance.”
That duality of raw energy and blind faith is what Gillie has channeled into over 80 records he’s made since partnering with Tamba Hali in 2011. Gillie originally met Tamba a thru mutual friend and financial advisor. Initially connected to work on music together, Gillie’s solo career quickly and naturally emerged. The result is an amalgamation of aggressive (“Survivin”), sexy ballad (“Tattoo”), grind it out (“Tear It Up” and “Whoa”) tracks produced by legends – Manny Fresh (formerly of Cash Money Millionaires) and newcomers – ConeyGurl, Batman and Jhalil Beats.
The celebrity featured guests won’t distract from the bright star that is Gillie Da Kid. As an underground legend in Philly, Gillie is quite savvy with his chameleonesque ways. “If you want to survive as an independent, you must have relationships. It’s easier when you have relationships.” When prompted if there is a choice between music and acting, music is Gillie’s true passion. Feeling previously overlooked, he admits, “many people were trying to hold me back,” and now it’s his time.
“I’ve done some s*** and hurt a lot of families when I was younger”
With his Figga Gang Entertainment/Religion Records debut, Gillie Da Kid is prepared musically. While the Suge Knight Story is aligning Gill Smith the opportunity to play Tupac Shakur. “I carry Philly with me,” proclaims Gillie. “I’ve done some s*** and hurt a lot of families when I was younger, caught up in the street life. Ving Rhames said, Gillie, I’m going to help pull you out of the water. That’s what I’m about – are you going to pull somebody else with you?” For Gillie Da Kid it all boils down to one simple rule of thumb, “if I do what I do, have faith and work hard, God is going to bless me.”
Welcome to Gilladelphia!