Photo by Siddiq
It’s July 12th, 2005, and Houston rapper, Slim Thug, has just released his debut album Already Platinum. It was a massive debut that gave the Northside legend major success and catapulted him to be one of the leaders of Houston hip-hop at the time. More importantly, it gave people from his neighborhood, Acres Homes, a voice. One of those people that resonated with his message was rising star God Body Bingo. The Northside rapper wrote his first rhymes to Slim Thug’s “Like a Boss,” and it would be the impetus that changed the trajectory of Bingo’s life and career. From writing rhymes as a preteen to rapping on lunch tables in high school under the moniker Compass, have all aided in his journey to his debut album, Off the Books.
An album four years in the making, Off the Books didn’t come easy. However, the Northside emcee contrived his debut album for his family, friends, as well as a tribute to the community he grew up in. The neighborhood that shaped him to be who he is today.
Staying true to his roots and never forgetting where he came from, the Acres Home native talks about his debut album Off the Books, becoming God Body Bingo, and his spirituality.
DE: First off, congratulations on the release of Off the Books which came out this past August. Talk to me about the process of making this album and the reception you’ve received since this release.
GB: The process of making this was crazy. It was about a year that it took for me to make it the version it is today. However, there are records on there from 2017/2018. If you look at my past discography, I’ve only released singles and EPs. So when I decided to take my time and make a full-length album, I wanted to make something cohesive. I wanted to make something worth people sitting down and listening to 45 minutes of music. I felt like I had to put my best foot forward and do my best. B Val recorded and mixed me and he did an amazing job. Everybody gave me a beat from producers such as Bin$on, Kilo Jenkins, and many others. They gave me their best including features from Oblivious Jones, Siddiq, Flo Eternal, Karter, and more. . They gave me their hardest verses. I had to learn how to step out of the way and allow people to help me create what I’m trying to create. For most of the songs I recorded more than once, we made edits, changed things, post-production, etc. This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on any body of work by far.
The reception has been great and humbling. Seeing the people listen and appreciate the effort I put in has been amazing. They can tell I meant every word, handpicked the beats, and took my time. One of my favorite things about it is people acknowledging the transitions. I really wanted the transitions to mean something. Also, when I ask people their favorite record, I get a different answer every time. So I believe that’s the mark of a good body of work when it’s not just one song that is head and shoulders above the others.
DE: You were talking about how you handpicked the beats and wanted to make sure people brought in their hardest verses. You took your time with this and redid the verses. Would you say that you’re a perfectionist?
GB: I don’t think I’m a perfectionist, but I’m very intentional. When I get into a project like this, I do start getting nitpicky and precise so I got a little bit of it in me. The real perfectionist is B Val. This is his album just as much as mine. He had to sit with it, record and mix every record. He’s going to take his time to make it perfect.
Photo by Siddiq
DE: Talk to me more about your relationship with B Val and why you feel like this is his album just as much as yours.
GB: That’s like my real brother. The only thing that separates us is blood. I’ve been knowing him since high school and we’re so close. There would be times I would go to his crib and talk to his mama longer than I talk to him. We’re like family for real. When you talk about music as an engineer or producer, they know how to mix, record, and make a record sound good. However, it’s rare to find somebody who cares about your music. He wants me to sound my best more than anyone I’ve ever worked with as far as recording. I’ve been recording with him since 2014 so nobody knows my voice or what I like more than him. I don’t even have to tell him to make the changes I want because he knows what I’m trying to do. He’s been making music longer than me and there are things we help each other with, but he helped me as a performer and helped me embrace my voice. I have a very unique voice, but I didn’t like it at first. However, when we first recorded together, he told me I had one of the dopest voices he ever heard. When I was recording with him back in 2015, my biggest thing was to not mess up my words. B Val would stop me halfway through my verse and tell me to do it again. I would get mad type shit. As much as he’s a great artist and writer, he’s really like a Pharrell or Dr. Dre in real life. He’s a great producer who cares about the craft.
Photo by WoahNa
DE: Let’s take it back a bit. When did you start getting into hip-hop and when did you know you wanted to become a rapper?
GB: My pops introduced hip-hop to me. God rest his soul. My earliest memories were Scarface, Ice Cube, and Eminem. I was five years old listening to shit like this and don’t know what they talking about. My pops loved gangsta rap. Eminem was my first favorite rapper and after him was 50 Cent. At this time, I’m eight or nine years old listening to 50 all day. After him, I had my Lil Wayne phase in middle school. Then, I started diving into Houston music in seventh or eighth grade. If you looked at my MP3 player at that time, it was all Swishahouse, Screwed Up Click, and UGK. That’s all I wanted to listen to. I felt like Houston had the best rappers and I thought Z-ro was the best rapper in the world. I was into Houston music so much that it influenced me to start rapping. I wrote my first rap when I was ten years old to Slim Thug’s “Like a Boss.” I just basically copied what he said and changed a few words. Seeing Slim Thug, a rapper from my hood, make it happen made me believe anything was possible. Thug and my brother went to Eisenhower together.
Anyways, I recorded for the first time when I was twelve. One of my cousins, who never dealt with music before that I knew about, is all of a sudden making beats and recording songs. He was recording a song that had an open verse and I asked if I could hop on it. Nobody in my family knew that I rapped. So I recorded and fell in love with it immediately. After that, when I got into high school, I’m freestyling on the lunch table and in the locker room. People kinda know I can rap, but I wasn’t taking it seriously. However, I wrote my first real song when I was in high school. It’s when I seriously considered rapping as a career. I made my first project when I was 18 under the name Compass and the quality was below the ground. I’m grateful for everyone who listened because it was hard to listen to. In college I knew I wanted to pursue it.
DE: Originally, this album was supposed to come out in 2017 under your former name Compass. However, it took four years to drop. Was there a life experience(s) that caused this to happen?
GB: I was working on a whole different album and it was a deeper album subject-wise. In the position I was in, I didn’t feel like I had a big enough fanbase as an artist. I didn’t think people would care that I did something like that. Off the Books was originally supposed to be me dropping something to get people’s attention. Once I did that, I was going to give people the real message. The songs from Off the Books were mainly throwaway tracks, but I had certain records I liked and I didn’t want to put them next to freestyles and throwaways. So I locked in and tried to make something better. Eventually, I had it done with all nine tracks recorded but I didn’t like the quality of the final mix. I wanted to restart the whole album, but I didn’t want to go through that. The same reason I started making Off the Books became the problem. I didn’t have a big enough fanbase to drop a long project where people would listen to it. So I compromised by making EPs and that’s how the In the Flesh series began.
I made volumes one through three in the last couple of years. I made the EPs, dropped visuals, did shows, and garnered a fanbase. In 2017, I didn’t know if I was going to come back to Off the Books but I didn’t want to throw away the records. If you look at the tracklist of the original one, a few of those records came out in other places over time. I just used the time to grow as an artist and grow my fanbase. After the third EP, I got tired of dropping short projects. I feel like people didn’t think I could drop anything longer than that because I haven’t released anything longer than four songs. So after the third EP, I wanted to start working on my debut album. What inspired me to make Off the Books the way it is today, was my brother who was getting out of jail. The original plan was to have it done by the time he got out, but he got released during the process. I recorded in June, made a few new records, and re-recorded all the old songs. I was going to make it a ten-track album, but the different experiences that I was going through made me want to put more into it. Once I decided to add three more records to it, it became what it is today.
DE: Did the feeling of the album change once your brother got released?
GB: It changed it slightly because I wanted it to be ready before he got out. However, when he got out, I wanted him to be part of the process.
DE: Was the album supposed to be a gift to him in some way?
GB: Yeah, more like a welcome home gift. I wanted to make it like an ode to him. The record, “Brothers,” I wrote specifically about him. Even with the album being so much about Acres Home and our hood, my example of loving and representing Acres Home was always him. When I thought about the hood, I thought about my brother. That’s all he knows and cares about.
DE: What was your brother’s reaction when he listened to the album?
GB: He likes it, but he’s weird when he listens to music. He’s old school and is in his 40s, so it’s a generational gap. However, he loves how I rap and how authentic my music is. He appreciates how I talk about him and giving him a moment. The main thing is that he’s proud of me for doing something I wanted to do. It could’ve been anything I was doing, but it just so happened to be music.
DE: It seems like there’s something brewing in the Northside with you, B Val, Siddiq, Jay Smith, OQ, and many others. You guys collaborate frequently. Why is it important to have these relationships with them as an artist?
GB: They say, “If you want to go far, you got to go together.” I’m very family-oriented and big on camaraderie and collaboration. The best music is made in collaboration. I grew up with OQ, B Val, and Karter in middle school and high school. I met Siddiq and Jay a little bit after that, but it’s like I knew them my whole life once I met them. We treat each other like family so this ain’t music to us. We live our lives, we make songs, and we’re from the northwest. We want to see each other win and Off the Books has been the best example of that so far. Everybody involved dropped what they were doing to make sure my shit came out right and it was such a humbling experience. Jay produced and was in a few songs. Siddiq gave me a verse and funny enough, he and Jay took the picture for the album cover. They also put together my album release party. B Val recorded, mixed, had a feature, did some post-production, and wrote a hook on one of the songs. He’s a full artist putting out music himself, so for him to stop and do all that for my album meant a lot. My boy, Bin$on, has three beats on the album and he has the most beats on there. Everybody went out of their way to make sure it came together. You’re seeing everybody put all their resources in to make something special. I want to be just a bigger help to them when it’s their turn.
Photo by AP the Gawd
DE: From your name to you shouting “Praise!” on every song you’re in, it’s pretty telling you have a close relationship with God. How does your relationship with God tie into your debut album and why is it important for you to have that on there?
GB: Me having Him on there is not my choice because He’s in there anyway. All I do is acknowledge it. Some people don’t, but I do because ain’t nothing moving without God in my opinion. When I talk about my name being God Body, it’s just me acknowledging that I have God in me. It ain’t exclusive either because anyone can be God Body if they acknowledge and be that. I always say, “God Body is what I am and Bingo is who I am” because Bingo is short for my last name. I want people to understand that you have God in you, you control your own life, and manifest whatever you want.
DE: I’ve read in your interview with Houstonia that this debut album is a love letter to Acres Homes. For people who haven’t been to your area, how does the album paint that image for them?
GB: I love it because it’s Acres Homes from my perspective. People have their idea of what it is or what it may be and I believe the way it sounds and feels is similar to how it feels to be where I’m at. Songs like “H44drich” feel like you’re exiting I-45, turning down Victory, and passing up Acres Homes. I got a song called “Where You From” with Oblivious Jones and even though he is from Missouri City, we respect each other’s hood. We just wanted to bridge that gap on some Southside/Northside shit. It’s just a feeling more than anything. It’s not a whole lot of specific details about the neighborhood, but it feels like it’s home. It’s just me paying homage to what made me.
Photo by Siddiq