Baltimore based rapper True God gives us his start and influences in music, what goes into his desire to release as many projects as he possibly can and what he’s working on outside of cooking up magic in the studio:
My first question is do you live in the studio? You have a bunch of projects out and I need to know.
That’s a yes and no answer. Since we’ve been on this lock down type shit, I downloaded an app that allows you to record and my team did the same. We’ve been playing around with it a bit over the last two months. Before that I was always in the studio, pretty much like every week. Everyone would always ask, “Why you drop joint after joint after joint?” I got a lot of shit going on in my life and the studio is where I can let everything out. I never had an outlet to let everything out. Most people seek therapy or they can talk to their girl, I don’t tell my girl anything. I have to do it through music.
Where are you from? What was your upbringing like?
Baltimore brother. West side certified. Where I live now is fine. I’m in a predominately white area now so I moved away from the bullshit. I grew up from the mud so I don’t wanna go back to that. I’ll tell you this, even though I’m in a nice area, you can drive 5 minutes and be in the worst part of the city. That’s how it’s set up. It’s better than what it was when I was growing up. My mother is from a project called Lexington Terrace. That’s one of the worst parts of Baltimore. I lived there for a little bit then I moved to Liberty Heights and that’s where I saw some of the worst shit ever. Ask around about it, it’s one of the worst places to ever be in. To me it’s no different than any other rough area. It has the same thing; gangs, drugs and murder.
Being that there’s not a plethora of rappers from Baltimore does that intimidate you or make you want to go harder?
You know I used to think about that. I always thought we were going to be the ones who make it. It’s pretty limited here. There’s two sections of Baltimore: people who are trying to be mainstream and people who want to stay underground. For me, music is my outlet it’s where I can escape. If people are going to fuck with it great, if not so what. I don’t want to be to popular, because people can kill you out here. I’m not even exaggerating it’s the truth. There’s always jealousy. When I started rapping people would take me to the corner and say “battle this guy he raps too.” Then it turns into something else. I try to keep it separate, cause if you blow up, people are going to come up to me and say “what’s up I got bills.”
At what age did you start to take music seriously?
I wanted to dedicate to it full-time when I was 19. I started writing rhymes when I was 8. I grew up in a great era of hip-hop, New York was popping and the South was popping. My cousin was like “Yo we’re going to be like Cash Money, we going to get chains and watches. We gonna wear white T’s.” That’s why I started rapping at first. At the same time, I was focusing on other things in my neighborhood. Eventually, I started to get better but I still didn’t take it seriously. Like, I’d be in there at that time just smoking and bullshitting around.
Where did you get the name True God from?
In 2011, I was listening to Nas’ song “You’re Da Man” and he was like “Nas, too real, Nas true king It’s however you feel, g’head, you swing.” I thought that shit was fire so I’m going to call myself True King. My ex said “You and friends always call yourself gods when y’all play sports and video games.” And that’s true, we always say “we gods in this shit.” I put the two together to get True God. I wish I had a better story about its origin. People call me bold because I have God in my name. Nobody knows this but when I first came out people actually thought I was a Christian rapper.
Can you tell me about your love for rap group Little Brother?
They mean everything to me. That’s the first musical act that took me out of a street mindset. When Little Brother came around I felt the real-life music versus the bullshit. You know, nobody is really shooting people, popping up dead or going to jail. These million dollar rappers aren’t doing that now. I see real shit, like three murders last week, crack heads in the alley. All the street stuff I listened to when I was younger felt false. Little Brother opened up about relationships in a way that I can get behind. OutKast is my favorite rap group but Little Brother is right up there with them.
Who else inspired you growing up?
Tupac and Cash Money. Before Wayne really became Lil Wayne we would always play his music. In the playground, we would say “the block is hot, the block is hot.” Also, Nas and Jay Z are up there. Pharrell was big too, he can make beats, drop verses and sing.
.Transitioning into your music, you dropped your first project in 2011. How have you evolved since then?
At first, I wanted to be this revolutionary. I wanted to have a message in the music. I still have messages in my music but I was deeply into the notion of Black Power back then. That was an overarching theme: black power and the struggle that my people been in. When I started I didn’t want to do any melodies or harmonies. All I wanted was booming beats where the bass knock the fuck out the speaker. I remember my boy telling me chill out a bit because all that “fuck the white man” mentality didn’t really hit outside the booth. In 2015 I started to go in a different route with concept albums, adding more melody and different aspects. Now, I do not write anything down which is weird because I am a writer. I wrote articles and I have a book coming out. But when it comes to music I can’t write cause I worry and over-analyze versus doing what I feel. I am willing to take more of a risk with different genres too nowadays.
You said you’ve written articles and you have a book coming out. Can you elaborate on that?
I have two scripts for the movies and I have a book coming out. Everything is based on my life. The book is called The Many Women, it’s about my dating experience. One of the movies is based on that book. It will have a different name but the same plot. I want to bring back those Black romantic comedies that were hits in the 90s. The other movie I’m working on is Sci-Fi based.
From 2011 till now how many projects have you released? I counted around 40.
I’m not going to lie, I stopped keeping track a while ago. You’re probably right. There’s a few albums that are not on streaming platforms but it’s over 40.
What’s the reason behind putting out so much music?
I’ve never said this before but the reason is I wanted to catch Prince in terms of how many albums he’s done. I had about 15 albums last year. Prince was obviously making music for 40 years but I want people to have an option of what their favorite album is.
When listening to your music, I notice your daughter is included in a bunch of songs and even the album covers for a few albums. Is she your main motivation?
She’s my main motivation in everything. When people listen to the music they will figure out the problems me and her mother had. We were not good for a while, but thank god we’re good now. I can’t tell her what’s going on now because she’s too young but when she gets older and expresses an interest in listening to my music she’s going to know what went on. She is the main reason why I make music and she is going to be why I retire. I put so much energy into music but when she gets older I want to spend more time with her.
I noticed Shokus Apollo is featured in most of your albums. Who is Shokus Apollo?
He is my brother. He’s been my best friend for the last 20 years in my life. We bonded over our love of OutKast. We were some bad ass kids getting into shit. When I started rapping, he started rapping too. That just made us closer. He was with me the first time I went into the studio. We had a rap group in high school—it was terrible. We had a dream of living the rapper life. We would sneak into yacht parties with college kids and we would perform because they had a free mic.
My favorite project is The Soul Revue Experience because you incorporated a live audience in the album. Whose idea was that?
That was my idea. I was thinking about what I haven’t done yet as an artist and the idea came to me that it would be dope if I made a fake live album with a fake crowd. I get so happy when people reach out to me about that album and ask where I created the album. We created the sounds, clapping and an audience all in the studio. Some people didn’t get it at first, they actually thought I was performing old songs. Some people didn’t see the vision and I’m happy you saw it, because it was very tough.
Being that The Soul Revue Experience was such a difficult album to make, are you most proud of that album or another one?
Soul Revue 4 is probably it. When Brandon reviewed it in 2019 he gave it a 9.6 out of 10. I will always hold on to that because the only other rapper that came close to that ranking was Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. Also, that album kicked my ass. I spent a ton of time on it and I was going through a break-up.
If you had one producer or artist you would like to work with who would it be?
The producer would be Madlib. As far as an artist, it would be D’Angelo. My dream is to create an album with him. He does his own production and the hooks. I wouldn’t have to go a ton of work and it would be real soulful.
Other than rap did you listen to any other genre?
I listen to rock music, particularly grunge. I started to listen to it throughout my teenage years. When I started to put my actual life into music it was influenced by rock music. I still listen to rock and heavy metal today.
A lot of people hate this question but I think it’s interesting. If you can compare yourself to one rapper who would it be?
I would say Phonte from Little Brother. I just can’t think of any other rapper that raps about their life that isn’t entirely street based. Also, he dabbles in melodies and sings and I’m trying to do the same thing.
Last question, what are your top 5 albums of all-time?
5. Nas- It was written
4. D’Angelo- Voodo
3. Outkast- ATLiens
2. Michael Jackson- Bad
1. Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On