Ever since the members of N.W.A. huddled up for the cover of Straight Outta Compton, the rap scene in Los Angeles has been largely defined by mythic figures who leveraged music to escape the danger and desperation in the streets. With his remarkable, entirely self-made success, Alex Gonzales, aka King Lil G, is now part of that prestigious lineage.
Since dropping his debut mixtape all the way back in 2004, King Lil G has racked up over a hundred million plays of his music on YouTube, all without major label support. His music borrows from the proud traditions of LA rap, both in sound and substance: His moody beats are descended from the dramatic, cinematic school of Dr. Dre and DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill, while his lyrics frequently reference his troubled youth in South Central (he also raps a lot about weed, which will always be a touchstone of West coast rap).
Like many others in the scene, King Lil G uses hip-hop as both a tool for self-expression and a pulpit for speaking to others. After his older brother was sentenced to 32 years in prison for attempted murder, King Lil G -- whose original rap name was Lil Gangster -- got serious about making music. And about making serious music.
“I want to be what Bob Marley meant to Jamaicans,” the Mexican-American rapper told the LA Weekly last year. “I don’t mean only to Mexicans but people in general. I’m trying to spread a message of respect for women, children and everyone else. If you’re going to be brave, be brave in the way that you think.”
That sentiment is clear in one of his biggest hits, 2014’s “Hopeless Boy,” which recounts in vivid detail his difficult youth, without ever coming off as heavy-handed or moralistic. But the generousness of his spirit shines through in other ways, like his recent Facebook contest in which he offered four fans airfare and all access passes to his upcoming hometown show at The Fonda (click here for tickets).
With his DIY ethos, LA-centric lyrics and inspiring message, King Lil G deserves a hero's welcome when he wraps the tour in support of the new mixtape Blessed By God with his May 21 show at the Fonda. Click here to get your tickets to the show and watch his recent video for “Time Cap$ule” in the clip embedded above.