When G Herbo released PTSD, his third studio album, in February 2020, it was lauded as one of his best releases yet. The deeply personal album unpacks
When G Herbo released PTSD, his third studio album, in February 2020, it was lauded as one of his best releases yet. The deeply personal album unpacks the psychological trauma that Herbo experienced as a result of growing up in the streets of Chicago. The LP became the rapper’s first top 10 album on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 7.But this chapter of his story isn’t over quite just yet. On May 29, G Herbo will drop the deluxe version of PTSD, featuring 14 new tracks. He tells Complex that some records were recorded while he was creating the original LP, and others were finished in the last couple of months leading up to the deluxe’s release. The deluxe also includes two new features with Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Durk, both of which Herbo promises will “go crazy.” But he says all of the new tracks on the deluxe dig deeper into his journey so far and will satisfy fans’ expectations. “It’s more of what my fans want. It’s hard lyrics. It’s my storytelling all bunched into one,” he explains. “I’m digging more into my life right now, in the perspective of me dealing with PTSD, from not only growing up where I come from, but PTSD on a level of just being a black man.”Once the project drops, G Herbo says he is ready to move on from this part of his story. He is already focused on his next project ,but suggests there are a lot of lessons he learned from working on PTSD that he can apply to his music and life moving forward. “I learned that I’m a real soldier, and I can bounce back from anything,” he says. “I can complete and accomplish anything that I put my mind to.” Complex caught up with G Herbo to talk about PTSD Deluxe, going gold with Juice WRLD, Chicago’s music scene, and what’s next. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below. Why did you decide to release a deluxe version of PTSD with 14 new songs instead of dropping a new project?
I was originally going to put a bunch of songs on the original LP, but I felt like a real album shouldn’t have more than 14 to 16 songs—maybe 17 at the most. So I kept it down to 14 because I saw that it was a complete body of work and it told the story how I wanted it to. As far as the deluxe, I kept some of those records because I wanted the deluxe to do the same thing. I never was an artist to focus on my deluxe or even care about it coming after. I put out the original project, and usually let my team put the deluxe together. But for this one, it was different. I really took my time and went song by song to put this together. It’s essentially a B side. It’s another body of work where I’m telling the story and you can still feel growth from that project to this one.So the deluxe album is telling the complete story?
Yeah. This tells the entire journey of PTSD. Then I could move on from it. With me having 14 new songs, it’s another story. It’s another vibe. It’s a completely new body of work, but it has the same feel. You could actually synapse the two albums together if you needed to.Did you record the tracks for the deluxe album at the same time as the original?
Yeah, some of them. But I never really stopped working, so some of these records are new records that I just did and fell in love with. It’s a mixture of both. It’s a vibe, so I feel like you can feel the growth. And it’s still right on point.What can fans expect from this part of the album? What’s different from what we’ve already heard?
To be honest, it’s more of what my fans want. It’s hard lyrics. It’s my storytelling all bunched into one. I dug into the storytelling a little bit with the original, but for the deluxe, I’m digging more into it. I’m digging more into my life right now, in the perspective of me dealing with PTSD, from not only growing up where I come from, but PTSD on a level of just being a black man. So, it’ll captivate my audience, a wider audience, and an older audience all at the same time. It’s tapping into hip-hop. It’s not really what music is right now. It’s what music was when I fell in love with it.Are there any features on the new tracks?
Yeah, I only have two features out of the 14 new records. One from Lil Uzi, and I got a Lil Durk feature. They were both featured on the original, but I had two new records featuring both of them on the deluxe.Is there anything we should know about those featured tracks?
The record with Uzi is crazy. I think it’s definitely going to reach heights. I feel it’s going to be a platinum record soon after it drops. It’s crazy. We got the video coming for that. And the Durk record is crazy, too. It’s another street banger.“PTSD,” the single with Juice WRLD, Lil Uzi Vert, and Chance the Rapper, recently went gold. Unfortunately, you’re not able to celebrate that win with Juice, but what does that certification mean to you?
It means everything. To be able to celebrate that and celebrate my brother’s life at the same time with that moment… It was a special record to me for that reason. And it’s a special record to so many other people. It helps people. This my first ever accomplishment with having a gold record, and it makes it that much better. I feel like it’s serving its purpose of helping people.“Friend & Foes” is the intro to the deluxe album. What was the inspiration behind the music video?
The inspiration behind the video was really what my upbringing was in life, just being in a war zone and being in these crazy, adrenaline-rushing, action-packed situations where I couldn’t really panic. I had to stay focused and maintain my composure in order to make it home at night on a constant basis. “Friends & Foes” is more personal to me, to G Herbo, and who I once was and who I am.Talking about mental health in rap is slowly becoming more common, but still has a ways to go. Were you surprised by the positive response to you opening up?
Kind of. But I wasn’t really surprised, because I felt it would get their reaction. Everyone has their own unique story, but not so unique in a way that you’re the only person that ever went through this, or that’s going through this type of thing now. I still feel being vulnerable and opening up to that kind of stuff is going to bring you a wider audience. because it’s going to be a me too factor like, “Oh, damn. He talked about this. He was not afraid to talk about this. I went through this, too, man. I respect him for that.” That’s the kind of reaction I didn’t think I was going for, but I knew that I would get it from just being real with myself and with the world.
“Chicago is the hub for music right now. It’s the hub for the culture, style, pain, struggle, and that grittiness that everybody wants to have.”
What did you learn about yourself from this entire process?
I learned that I’m strong. I learned that I’m a real soldier, and I can bounce back from anything. I can complete and accomplish anything that I put my mind to. It was a hard time completing this album, especially from the very beginning of me trying to do PTSD and put it out, versus me putting out this deluxe. It’s a completely different feeling. I’m in a completely different stage in my life, and I’m not having dark clouds over my head. I don’t really want to speak on everything that I went through, but I feel a lot of my fans, my family, and people who were close to me know all of the adversity that I had to overcome—pain that comes with life that you endure. You just keep your chin up and move through it.What do you want fans to take away from the deluxe album?
I would like my fans to take away that rap music, hip-hop music is important. Vulnerability is important. And for people who care about their fans enough to be real with them, to help people. My music helps people more than anything. I’m not that artist who talks about my luxurious life, unless I’m talking from a standpoint of letting people know that it’s possible, that I do possess these things, I came from this, and I had to overcome this. My story isn’t that special. I’m not going to be selfish and say I’m the only person that had to do this, and had to overcome these kinds of things to succeed. But at the level that I’ve done it, and at the age that I’ve done it, I feel like that’s special. That’s enough to talk about, to tell people, to help people. We’re all strong. We are all kings and queens in our own way. I feel like we can do whatever and we are stronger together. How do you feel about Chicago’s music scene right now? We recently spoke with Polo G, who was sending you praises and stated that Chicago was in a good place.
Oh, man, that’s crazy. That means a lot to me because Polo, that’s my little brother. I adore everything that he’s doing. I respect it. I admire it. He’s reaching heights that I feel like somebody from Chicago at that age and stature didn’t really do. And he’s still blossoming. We’re all young, and for me to be able to pave the way for him to even be able to speak highly of me like that, it means a lot to me. That means I’m doing the right thing. They keep me going. They keep me feeling like I need to go hard. We should all embrace each other and make sure they’re going hard, and give them the motivation that they need to do what they need to do. And I feel Chicago is the hub for music right now. It’s the hub for the culture, style, pain, struggle, and that grittiness that everybody wants to have. Not even just being an artist, just being a man. That toughness that Chicago has to get through any situation, us coming together in that way, we could reach heights that we never imagined. As someone who has a background in Chicago drill, what are your thoughts on Brooklyn’s growing drill scene?
I love what Brooklyn is doing. I fuck with [Fivio Foreign]. that’s my boy. I love what Fivio’s doing. I loved what Pop Smoke was doing, God bless his soul. I fuck with Sheff G. I fuck with Smoove’L. I fuck with all those guys. I like what they doing. I’m watching. I’m peeping the scene.
“I love what Brooklyn is doing. I f*ck with [Fivio Foreign]. that’s my boy. I love what Fivio’s doing. I loved what Pop Smoke was doing, God bless his soul. I f*ck with Sheff G. I f*ck with Smoove’L. I f*ck with all those guys.”
You’ve released a studio album every year since 2017. Are you already working on your next project or still enjoying the success of PTSD?
Now that PTSD deluxe is out, I can get focused on the next project. Of course I’m not rushing things because I got all the time in the world right now. But I am focused. I actually feel like I do have the next intro. If another song beats it out, which I’m not saying it won’t, then of course, I’m already in that feel. I’m in the vibe of how I want to do my next album. I may drop a Swervo beforehand or after, but I have another album that I want to be a classic. I’m getting in gear for me to create that. I never really stopped working, to be honest.What’s your next big goal for yourself?
We are in the process of getting our school built on the South Side of Chicago, which I’m excited for. We have a multimedia facility we’re building and a vineyard incubator. We bought one of the 50 Chicago Public Schools when they closed down. That project is going to be in the works real soon. And besides me really getting ready to mold and cultivate new artists, and music, I’m just enjoying fatherhood and trying to stay active in the community. That’s real important. I want to get real active in my neighborhood that I grew up in. What’s the most important thing that you want fans to know about you right now?
That I’m honest with myself and I do things that not only help me, but help other people. When I’m being honest with myself, I’m trying to give people the opportunity to tap into their brain in ways that they haven’t, and motivate people and inspire them through my music to be a better them. I’m going to grow with my fans. I’m growing as a man, and as an artist, every single day. For people to stay on this journey with me is a blessing. Of course, they know that I’m going to appreciate them and take them with me as I go.