Huntsville, Alabama’s G-Side are ushering in a new era of Southern rap. Two of the hardest-grinding MCs in the business, ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova witnessed immense struggle firsthand and have worked ceaselessly to carve out a bright future for both themselves and their city, a hip-hop mini-Memphis in the making. Buttressed by the bass-heavy, space-age sounds of local production gurus Block Beattaz, G-Side are an inescapable force, a perfect mix of positivity and swagger preaching, as SPIN coined, “no-bullshit, no-excuses achievement”-living proof that the South doesn’t have to get dirty to get down.
The group’s hard-earned optimism wasn’t forged overnight. ST and Clova were raised a block apart from one another in nearby Athens, AL. It was a dry town, so juke joints (moonshiners) were as common as crack houses on their parallel streets, Acorn Hill and Box Alley. Their childhoods were peopled by dealers and fiends, cops and robbers. ST endured homelessness and the foster care system, while Clova faced similar poverty and watched family members struggle with addiction. As kids, had the same pastimes-hooping, hollering at girls, and rapping-so they eventually met around age 12 at the Athens Boys & Girls Club.
They started rapping together in 1999 inspired by the gangsta stylings of UGK, the fierce originality of Dungeon Family, and the independent spirit of No Limit Records. The name came easily-they hailed from the gutter side of town-and their chemistry was instant: ST with his laidback lyrical delivery and Clova with his icy straight-ahead style. After relocating to Huntsville to team up with Block Beattaz and the burgeoning Slow Motion Soundz label, G-Side began recording in earnest. Their first two albums, Sumthin 2 Hate (2007) and Starshipz & Rocketz (2008), showcased a duo on the rise, transitioning from street money to legitimate means as their local profile and web presence grew in tandem.
In 2009, G-Side broke through with Huntsville International, winning over tastemakers as diverse as HipHopDX, Pitchfork and NPR with a mix of woozy, synth-based production and sharp, style-steeped rhymes. They booked their own shows overseas-putting their city’s unique, SMS-anchored scene on the map-and solidified their rep with 2011’s The One…Cohesive, a stately and focused LP showcasing loads of local talent, live strings and piano, and samples as far-reaching as Enya and Beach House.
Despite G-Side’s worldwide expansion, they are still entirely independent and undeniably Southern. When they aren’t recording or on the road, Clova works in the Huntsville barber shop that he owns and ST works with local talent directing music videos-further testament to their ability excel against odds. On 11/11/11, G-Side will release their game-changing fifth album, Island, and wait for world to catch up.