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Diamonds Are Built From Pressure: a Q&A With G-Man 777

G-Man 777 is one of the youngest in the Southampton rap game to make a name for himself. He started recording rap way back in 2015 while still in school, and has since developed into a dominant prospect for the future of South coast rap - all the while remaining in education, the now-20 year old currently studying at Solent university.

We sat down over Zoom to discuss G-Man's past, present and future as we await an album that was set to drop until lockdown.

Q: You wear a turban - what’s your ethnic background?

A: I’m third generation Sikh Punjabi.

Q: How did you get into recorded rap?

A: I was literally just walking home from the bus stop one day after school when I came across one of my mates called Rakeem, and he...was like ‘Yeah man, you still rapping and stuff?’ Because quite a few years back we used to just freestyle and have a little mess around and stuff like that, and I was like ‘yeah, I still do a little bit here and there.’

And he was like ‘Yeah, you should start coming to these music sessions at the studio,’ he says ‘you just come along, they’re free, you just do your thing, you go.’

So I’m like ‘alright then, let’s go’ and he texted me later on that day; told me when the next one was and I went along to it...From there, there ended up being a group of us - a group called ‘Mercy’ - which eventually performed on the Common People main stage, performed at the STAR Awards in 2015 and done various little charity events here and there…

I don’t think all of us are still going with the music...I still keep in touch with everyone who was in the group at the time, but not many of them have really pursued ‘it’.

Q: In 2018 you entered a competition for Hopsin. Talk about that.

A: Ah. So, I’ve been a big Hopsin fan for however many years and he put out a post on his social media and his youtube because he was going on tour. I had already bought tickets because I was going to go see him on tour anyway, and he just announced that he’s gonna be picking 3 MCs at each city to perform for him - the best one being able to perform halfway through his show. So, I entered - I think I’d just turned 18 - I submitted my song ‘Dawn of a New Day’. That got the attention of him, I got invited over.

After the sound check, there were 3 other rappers - I can’t even remember their names off the top of my head, I’m afraid - and we all performed. I performed one of my songs; I think it was ‘Prey’ that I performed. The other rappers I was going up against were really good. They were a lot older than me as well - I think one of them was about 29 and the other one was about 31, so they were a lot deeper into it than I was at the time...I did come runner up, so I still got the chance to meet Hopsin; I still got the chance to hang out with him for a bit. I spoke to him, got a bit of advice from him as well. Also, getting recognition at a fairly early age and fairly early stage in my career from somebody who’s so legendary in hip hop…

It was a really big blessing for me.

Q: You posted yourself working on something with Ross Reverie on Instagram a couple of days ago. Is he producing for you now?

A: He’s not exactly producing for me. We were working in the studio on a couple of songs for my album that I’ve got in the making. All that was is Ross, he told me he’s got his own studio set up [at home] and yeah, we just trialled it out and see how we work with each other. We definitely clicked, we definitely worked with each other quite well, so I’m definitely looking forward to working with him a bit more in the studio.

As of now, we haven’t got any projects together in the pipeline but I don’t see there being a problem with any of those in the future. I’d definitely work with Ross in the future.

Q: In your verse in the tune ‘Pressure’ with F-DAT, you say ‘Diamonds are built from pressure, you can’t rip me apart’. Does this line relate to your life in any way?

A: Diamonds are built from pressure. Okay, so I’ve got a middle name, yeah? And my middle name is Heera. And Heera is a Punjabi word for diamond. So that is derived from that.

So ‘Diamonds are built from pressure, you can’t rip me apart’ was a reference to my middle name. That’s what that was.

In all honesty I haven’t been through the hardships that Eminem’s been through or any of these other guys, I’m fairly okay. I’ve got a nice, happy life man. But, obviously, everyone goes through their pressures. For example, in that song I do talk about the pressures of conflicting thoughts. I’m a uni student as well, so it’s like ‘Study’s all G-man so what is the plan’ so, it’s like, am I wasting my time doing all this music stuff? Do I just stick to the uni and keep my head down? So, of course, everyone’s gonna go through different pressures in their life - especially with music.

Q: Do you see yourself working with F-DAT again in the future?

A: Yeah, there’s no problem with that. I mean, I still keep in contact with Corey (Ripzaw), I still hit Jamb up from time to time. I don’t know the new guys as much, but I mean yeah, I wouldn’t say no.

The thing about the Southampton music scene and where it’s so small, everyone’s helping each other out - it’s a good thing. That unity - it keeps us all strong, it keeps us all together. It’s brilliant, and that’s what it is in Southampton: it’s a little community.

Q: What’s your relationship with Riskology?

A: Me and Riskology Radcliffe? Riskology’s been there for me since day 1. Ever since I started [recording music] at the YMCA youth centres, he’s always been a really big helper with a lot of the events. Supporting Sal and Pedro as well - they were my two mentors at the youth centre. Riskology has taken me under his wing and he’s given me so much help. He’s given me such a boost of confidence, and he’s also been a person to - at times when I’ve felt like I’ve wanted to slip away from it - he’s been the person to tell me why I need to carry on, what my worth is in this music industry, and why it’s so important to me.

And also Riskology himself, he’s not just, like, a person I know. He’s like family to me - he knows my uncles as well, so he’s like a family friend. It’s not just on a professional level. He’s like a big brother to me.

Q: Who produced ‘Highs’?

A: That was a cover I done over J Cole’s instrumental ‘High For Hours’. I was just listening to it one day, I love all of J Cole’s conscious rap music and all of that, so it just got me writing and got me in the zone. I had a few other verses that I wanted to release as well because...not every verse that you write ends up making it onto wax. So, there were a couple of good verses that I just wanted to release to the public because I knew they weren’t going to be on any of my upcoming projects - I included those and then just wrote another 32 bars to go with it.

G-Man with Mic Righteous on set for "Control" video. Courtesy @realgman777 on Instagram
G-Man with Mic Righteous on set for "Control" video. Courtesy @realgman777 on Instagram

Q: What is ‘Ballad of a Dreamer’?

A: Ballad of a Dreamer is an album that I’ve been working on for about 3 years now. It’s something I’ve always had the idea for… I don’t want to speak on it too much because I don’t want to reveal too much information about it at the moment, but it is something I’ve been working on for quite a long time and it’s something I’ve not wanted to rush, either. It’s my first official LP, it’s something I just really want to get right.

That will be coming at some point. In all honesty, I was aiming for today as a release date - May the 4th! The album is a bit spacey, mind tardis, warped type of theme. So, essentially, it was going to be a ‘May the fourth be with you’ release date. But, obviously, with everything that’s gone on, it’s gone out of my hands unfortunately. Now I really don’t know when it’s gonna come out - maybe towards more so the end of the year, maybe the beginning of next - but it’s not going to be too long hopefully.

Q: How did you become a BBC Introducing Artist?

A: I think what it was is: after I released the song with Mic Righteous, a lot of people in the industry had eyes on me then. There’s a side of the industry with BBC Asian Network, so [there’s] a lot of British-Asian rappers as well. So a lot of them had their eyes on me - a lot of them had been supporting me as well. I think I got the attention of a lot of them as well as the attention of Bobby Friction.

He emailed me one day saying he really liked the song, really enjoyed listening to it, and they wanted to invite me to the studio to talk more about the song and about my journey in music. So that’s honestly how that came about. It was very organic. It wasn’t something I was forcing, I wasn’t uploading constantly. It was literally the right song, the right moment, the right people looking at me and it happened. It was one of my biggest dreams to do as well, like, I’ve always wanted to be a BBC Introducing Artist, I’ve always wanted to go to the BBC for an interview so it was a really great experience as well for myself.

I keep in contact with Bobby - he always says whenever I’ve got any new music, just send it through to them. But as of yet, obviously with everything else that’s going on as well, we don’t know what could’ve been. So, you know, I’m still a BBC Introducing Artist, I’m still on their radar, so just need to see what the future brings now.

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