G Herbo – XXL Best Hip-Hop

G Herbo feels like he’s lived an entire century on his fourth studio album, 25, an hour-long, 19-track journey through the lens of a survive-or-die lifestyle that has both scarred him and spurred him into action. A quarter century old, the Chicago native’s age may pale in comparison to his elder hip-hop peers, but when he admittedly raps, “I ain’t know the world was cold, I saw a murder at 9” on “Cold World,” it’s clear he’s experienced a lot in his 25 years. The rapper once known as Lil Herb spills from his soul here. He’s no longer hugging the block, but Herbo’s still got stories to tell from the trenches and street-angled wisdom to share.

The album opener “I Don’t Wanna Die” sets the tone, with children singing the title in a haunting, nursery rhyme fashion. Herb has seen plenty of brothers fall victim to the streets, and he’s trying to avoid the same end. “Wanna see my life’s a movie? Press play,” he urges on the CuBeatz and Southside-produced joint. His calling card of off-beat rhymes works well on “Cry No More,” a rattling, piano trap beat that finds Polo G delivering the hook alongside faint melodies from Lil Tjay, coupled with solid verses from each. On “Stand the Rain (Mad Max),” the chipmunk vocal sample crafted by Oz on the Track and Chase Davis, which is a common thread throughout 25, dominates as Herb raps of looking at life through the rearview. He “came from shit” but boasts, “I ain’t even reach all my goals and I’m still shittin’ on my peers.” While the gloom and doom of dead friends and inherent racism he’s witnessed is ever-present in his rhymes, “Turning 25” is a more celebratory offering on which he freestyles about being rich, lit and having a name before the fame.

Tay Keith devises menacing production reminiscent of the Halloween theme song on “2 Chains,” as G Herbo slices through the beat with lyrics of never switching up on the gang. Rowdy Rebel connects on “Drill” for a Midwest meets East Coast drill union. Herbo’s son Yosohn gets a guest appearance on “Cold World,” introducing himself and showing love for his pops as the Chi-town MC airs out his vulnerable side: “Holding in that stress, and DMX, I get to slippin’” and “In a fight with my anxiety, I feel like Juice.”

With a looming federal court case over his head, G Herbo is rapping like his freedom depends on it on 25. There are two important things he’s focused on. No jail time for one, and inspiring those willing to listen as he declares on “Demands”: “Hopefully one day, my raps will end up saving ’em.”—G.C.

Read More: Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2021 So Far – XXL | https://www.xxlmag.com/best-hip-hop-projects-2021-so-far/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

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