Lawrence Smith Jr., the up-and-coming rapper who is the son of legendary rap music producer Larry Smith, was born in Elmhurst, Queens, New York on March 30, 1994. Recording as G5 Elz, Smith lives these days in South-East Jamaica, Queens, the neighborhood known as Northside. He counts such New York hip-hop heavyweights as Cam'ron, Big L, and Nas among his influences.
The future rapper started writing poetry in elementary school, then began composing actual hip-hop lyrics in late elementary/early middle school. He became even more serious as a high-schooler, where he began spitting in classrooms and lunchrooms, and on laptops and video via Twitter. His commitment was sealed when his grandmother, Angie Smith, who had raised him, passed away in 2011, and G5 ELZ realized he was entirely on his own. It was then that he began writing, recording, and releasing the series of mixtapes that have won him high regard.
Taking this GET TO KNOW feature to a whole other level, here's our exclusive Q&A with the talented emcee outta Queens. After reading it, be sure to follow G5 Elz on social media, watch his new visual "Feelin' Like" about ten times and stay tuned because his upcoming album "The Northside Punch" will be dropping soon.
How did your name G5 Elz originate and what's your earliest memory of writing your first rhymes?
The G5 part of my name came from high school. The click I ran with then (still running with now) is called Got 5. We use to cut early out of school and before we left we asked who GOT 5 on the loud pack? Then the next school year we made an abbreviation for Got 5, G5. The 5 now stands for M.O.N.E.Y. courtesy of G5 Yah Boogie, there is more to it but its for members only sorry. Then the Elz simply originated from my real name Lawrence, I hate being called by my first name unless it's out a female’s mouth so I told everyone else call me L or Elz as a nickname.
One of the earliest memories with writing rhymes I can think of has to be from 6th grade. One day my class had to go to the dance room because the gym was closed or something like that. I remember sitting on the cushioned floor and writing a rhyme in my marble notebook. After I finished, I stood up and started rapping it in front of the whole class. They were hype, I was too because that's the first time I felt cool in school. Even the girl who use to give me the straight face every time I asked her to be my girlfriend said “You’re good”.
You come from the borough of legends. How is the legacy of Queens based artists like Nas, Cormega, the late Prodigy from Mobb Deep, LL Cool J, and so on, reflected in your music?
Awww man Queens legends are apart of my blueprint. I studied classic albums everyday after school riding the bus such as RUN-DMC (self titled) , Nas - Illmatic and Mobb Deep - The Infamous. Bits and pieces from those compositions influenced song ideas. For example when I first started putting music out five years ago I sampled Nas & Mobb Deep vocals for the “Q.U Anthem” (Queens Anthem) song chorus which is one of the lead singles from my first mixtape “The N.Y Times” that dropped in 2013.
Congrats on your new single and visual "Feelin Like" that is bubbling right now. What motivated you to create this track and who directed the video?
Thanks I appreciate you guys for supporting it btw. My team did a good job putting it out hopefully we can take it to the next level. My love for the summertime in New York City along with real life experiences motivated me to write “Feelin’ Like” when SVDON sent the beat. My guy Jeremy DeHitta from the “Dream But Don’t Sleep” production company based out of New Jersey directed the video, we had a fun day on set throughout NYC drinking Ciroc, smoking blunts & watching out for the parking meter maid shooting “Feelin’ Like”.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you write your lyrics first before hearing a suitable beat or is it vice versa?
So ironic you ask this because I was actually in the middle of writing. Sometimes I write the lyrics first. Usually I go through beats and if a beat talks to me I write to it. Sounds weird right? But that's my process. Then after I write my raps I hit up a select few people Yah Boogie, Flee T, Halftime, Bobby Dubs, Lee Dymons and 183rd. I annoy them with the recitals lol. After I get my feedback I move forward in two ways. If no complaints I record a demo at home during the late hours of the night until my sister complains ha ha. I try to play around with the cadence and vocal tone on wax. But if I get feedback that the song lyrics I wrote isn't hitting, its back to the drawing board courtesy of producer Bobby Dubs 40% of the time.
What can we expect from your upcoming LP "The Northside Punch" and how long do we have to wait until you drop it?
“The Northside Punch” is an overall improvement in my sound compared to the prior mixtapes I’ve put out. There will be a few dope rising talents on the track-list. A few tracks produced with samples. Storytelling of past and present life experiences. Lastly, traditional 90’s New York Rap influenced rhyme patterns with a new approach on modern beat drums is how I can summarize it. Yo "The Northside Punch" will be out before its time to put the BAPE hoodies back on.
How do you avoid having yes men around you who will tell you that anything you record is hot when it really isn’t?
I’ve learned not to play my records for everybody. I try to mainly play my record for people with music opinions I trust or the professionals I am blessed to be around who wouldn't hesitate to tell me “that shit was trash, it's aight, or you need to do this better”.