G.T. is Detroit rap’s resident elder sage. He’s a pioneer, just as essential as his more popular counterparts (Peezy, Babyface Ray) in the foundation of modern Detroit Hip Hop. Culturally, he’s been financially invested in both the arts and Detroit real estate for several years; his imprint ranges from his side projects (he’s remodeled abandoned properties and invested in his girlfriend’s successful body butter business) to his connections with artists across the country. The smooth-talking, laid-back, fiscally empowering rapper is a beacon of the best case scenario-type midwestern success story, and his raps reflect it. On his newest effort, Owe It To Myself, G.T.’s penchant for raps about self-reflection and the tribulations of long-term growth have never been more evident.
G.T. is a valedictorian of the Aubrey Graham School of Tastefully Co-Opting Music Trends. The best rappers generally fall into two categories: they’re either trendsetting innovators, or able to lean upon inspiration from the popular artists of the day and repackage it successfully into their own style. G.T. falls comfortably into the latter category. Since 2020’s Timeless–a mid-career creative renaissance–his best music has been a workover of existing styles and flows (see: “Veeze Bag”) or a reflection of whichever artist appears on the track.
A rap scene long underappreciated, Detroit seems to finally be getting its due from nationally prominent rappers, and as the local erudite, G.T. is reaping the benefits. For a scene so used to having its sound jacked by other relevant regions, G.T.’s music flips the script and gives other regional sounds a Detroit-ification. He raps manic pastiches about backstabbers and fake love over distorted soul samples and deep, unmixed bass from the center of the earth with New York’s Shawny Binladen on “It Get Deep”; laments his descent into drug use and retail therapy over textured and forlorn melodies with Lucki on “City ID”; and advises listeners about the struggles inherent to success on “Hold On” with G Herbo over glitzy keys and blissful gospel samples that hearken back to rap of the early 2010s.
Unlike other projects that are carried by their respective features, G.T. curates a more united soundscape by following his tried and true recipe of maximalist production and soulful melodies, working with Detroit icons like Michigan Meech, DeJ Loaf and Samuel Shabazz. On “Blow That Money”, the album’s most unique track, G.T. gives his best Shabazz impression himself, with wistful whines about staying solid–even in darkness- over a woozy, trudging, drunk piano track.
Album closer “Back On Tour” sees the most inspired rapping from G.T. we’ve heard in years, as he trades bars with BabyTron and Milwaukee’s Certified Trapper for the most fun two minutes of the project.
It’s easy to fall into cliches and use other artists as a crutch once you become notable enough to garner higher-profile guest features, but G.T. avoids that trap, delivering one of the better albums in his oeuvre. Sure, the album is a bit formulaic; this is G.T. rapping in pockets where he knows he can find success. Sometimes, artists don’t need to take big risks to make an album that sounds good — Owe It To Myself was never meant to break down any barriers.