You never know until you try. Before rap, Louisville, Ky. native EST Gee was hustling in his city, but considered that there may be a place for him within hip-hop around his way. According to him, he got the streets blessing. After Gee was arrested for a drug trafficking charge in 2016, which had him locked up and then eventually put on house arrest, Gee saw Lil Baby rhyming on TV and thought of him as a kindred spirit. By 2018, the aspiring rhymer was making songs in a bathroom recording studio. Since he was off house arrest by May of that year, Gee was able to make more moves toward his fledgling career. At the time, he was already making noise for himself with songs like “New Number” and creating his own buzz in his hometown.
Along the way, he also found a friend in 2020 XXL Freshman Jack Harlow. Both artists are from the same city but make drastically different types of music. EST Gee is a street rapper through and through, unique in his own right with a distinctive voice. His flow and lyrics include solid wisdom, unabashed truth and extremely vivid tales that pull it all together. Gee’s sound can be heard on Harlow’s 2020 debut album, Thats What They All Say, on the song “Route 66,” which the two performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in January of this year. The experience is one of Gee’s standout moments to date.
While good moments like that have happened on Gee’s rise to the top, unfortunately, he’s experienced tragedy and tribulation prior. In September of 2019, he was shot five times in a vehicle in Louisville after finishing a video shoot with Sada Baby. One of those bullets hit him in the eye and the other four went into his stomach. He survived and recovered, but then dealt with the deaths of both his brother and mother in 2020.
While Gee is still mourning their passings, his profile is rising. His videos on YouTube are consistently getting views, especially the visual for the remix of “Get Money” featuring Yo Gotti, which sits at nearly 3 million views and shows off what the streets of Louisville are like. And despite the pandemic taking over last year, he dropped the mixtape Ion Feel Nun, in March of 2020, which features an image of himself with his eye bandaged on the cover, and then followed up with I Still Dont Feel Nun project in mid-December. Before those two efforts, he released the projects El Toro and Die Bloody in 2019.
Now, EST Gee is signed to Yo Gotti‘s CMG imprint and Interscope Records. Gotti welcomed the rap newcomer to his team by giving him $750,000 in late January, the moment captured on Instagram. Plus, he gained a supporter in Lil Baby, the same rapper Gee saw making a lane for him when he first began rapping. Baby and Gee have a collab on the way. It’s all coming together for EST Gee, this week’s featured artist in XXL‘s The Break.
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
I grew up listening to: “Boosie [BadAzz], [Yo] Gotti, Gucci [Mane], Future. I feel like everybody listened to them. I might be wrong though. They were just talking about gangsta shit. My daddy used to listen to gangster shit. It just was what was most relatable to me, what was going on around me. It was easy to listen to because I understood it.”
My style’s been compared to: “Everybody say I make them feel like how the OGs did, and [Yo] Gotti and… how that shit used to feel like back then. They say I make them feel like that. They don’t think I sound like them neither, but as far as like just coming in with they own money, a group of niggas with they own money. There’s only a couple of rappers that can say they came like us or they coming like us. You hear about this type of shit, but you don’t get to see it. And especially not from no Louisville, Kentucky.”
I’m going to blow up because: “Me talking to you. I ain’t locked up. I ain’t dead. I got shot five times. I got shot in my eye and my stomach four times. I could be dead, you feel me? I’m in Miami right now, looking at the skyline. Miami, on the beach. I’m far away from where I come from. I’m doing all right.”
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: “I don’t feel like I got no song that people slept on. That’s why I get the same type of reaction to every song. I feel like, as far as views and shit on videos, that only goes as far as you promote something, like putting it on the vlog site or shit like that. I don’t really even pay attention to views a lot. It just be like more cultural impact. I know if I do a show, they want to hear this song. That means more to me than how many views shit got. People walking up to me and reciting shit from a song or reciting certain shit from a song. Sometimes they do it to the songs that don’t got the most views.”
My standout records to date have been: “‘Get Money.’ Everybody is on that. Lil Baby,  Dugg, [Yo] Gotti. Like the trap, everywhere. Everywhere there was street niggas was fucking with that song, “Get Money.” It was like an anthem. It felt good because it felt like people knew we for real. If you’re a OG or you’re a person who’s been out here. You can’t look at us or look at me and not see shit you’ve been through yourself. That was my fastest video I got to a million. I think that bitch went to a million in like a month.”
My standout moments to date have been: “Being on Jimmy Kimmel [Live!]. That’s probably… I didn’t even understand how big it was at first, but I’m sending a shout-out to my boy, Jack Harlow. My Jack, man. Jack was a fan of me out of nowhere, like we didn’t know each other or nothing and he’s been supporting me. Fucking with me ever since. How he act then is how he act now. He never, never, never changed. And he used to confuse me. I would just be like, ‘Damn, why does he like this shit?'”
Most people don’t know: “I’m a Taurus. I don’t know. I’m into astrology. I like astrology. My grannies and them, is into shit like that. My granny, my nana, she’s real spiritual. She’s into shit like that.”
I’m going to be the next: “I don’t really want to be the next nothing, I just want to be Gee. Whatever that is. Superstar. I just want to be me.”
“Members Only” featuring 42 Dugg
“Special (Remix)” featuring Moneybagg Yo
I Still Don’t Feel Nun
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