“I started as an artist. I really didn’t know that I was gonna be a songwriter, or that I had the talent to write for other people. My focus in the beginning was just myself,” Gizzle says over the phone, chuckling at her career’s boomerang trajectory. After 10 years of developing other artists’ sounds, 28-year-old rapper Glenda “Gizzle” Proby, aka Lady G Da Real Deal, has managed to walk back to that fork and take the other road.
Puff Daddy & The Family’s 2015 single “You Could Be My Lover,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Gizzle, was her first major move as an artist, exposing her to fans who only knew her secondhand, through the filters of other rappers. On her YouTube channel, dope tracks such as “Ab Soul” and “Gizzle Meets Jansport J” are teasers to her A-list pen game. This South Central native got offered a record deal at 17, but “the [music] industry was in a transition period. It’s like post-Napster. It wasn’t the dream that you thought it was a year or two prior,” she explains.
While major record labels were trying to stop hemorrhaging money, artist manager Cudda Love steered Gizzle toward songwriting. It was a chance to hike up a new learning curve, to “take notes on what worked and what didn’t. And to know what path that I wanted to take, ’cause there’s no one way to skin a cat.”
On the many records that she’s written or co-written, her name doesn’t always appear in the credits. “When I first started I was a ghostwriter for real, like you weren’t supposed to know.” Since then, she's graduated to more legit songwriting gigs. “If you’re the best artist, you don’t need to write your own songs,” she says, pointing out that while rappers are expected to write their own verses (even though many employ ghostwriters), pop artists have always had songs written for them, and even top-tier rappers enlist outside songwriters for hooks and other elements.
“When I write something for other people, it’s for them," she says of her process. "It’s not something that I could do, or something that I could perform.” Writing with other artists has put her at ground zero, where the recording of seismic tracks alters the lay of pop culture’s land. “At the end of the day it’s about getting ideas out.” Pick any sky-touching rapper: Kanye, Travis Scott, Boosie Badazz, Puffy. Gizzle has collaborated with all of them, helping to craft some of rap’s most hyper-masculine and sexually raunchy hits.
At 15, Gizzle told her mother, “I like girls, and that girl who spent the night, that was my friend, but that’s my girlfriend.” Having “that conversation” with her mother was difficult, especially given the black community’s conservative views toward homosexuality. Family members may know their relatives are gay and don’t openly object to them, as long as it’s not talked about.
“I will say that my family has supported me all the way through. They’ve welcomed any one of my partners at the time into the family.” At the beginning of her career, “When I first got my record deal, they got me all dressed up and glamorized — like weave, nails, heels, the whole thing. And then, I remember, I did like a couple songs where I was rapping about a boy as my love interest.”
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She doesn’t make her sexuality an “overt thing,” but it’s not a secret. “From an early age I just wanted to live my truth.” When asked about other artists’ attitudes toward her sexuality, she says, “It’s never made anyone uncomfortable, but I don’t come off like that anyway. It’s not like I’m like, ‘Where the bitches at?’”
She was set to start 2017 with the bang of her debut album, The Jump, but Gizzle decided to postpone its release to later this year. Talking about the transition to full-fledged solo artist, she notes that as a songwriter, "You’re usually making someone else’s idea come to life, and a lot of times that’s easier than your own.”
On Jan. 29, Gizzle dropped a mixtape called 7 Days in Atlanta. Produced by C Gutta and a slew of notable others, it’s the first episode in her 7 Days series. She plans to record each installment in a different city, topping it off with L.A. Taking inspiration from the chocolate city “that’s got a special place in my heart,” 7 Days in Atlanta is a celebration of black excellence and vigilance. It’s on and popping, and now that she's writing verses for herself, Gizzle still keeps it 100, same as she ever has. As she spits on "Black Tie," “Everybody in your circle ain’t in your corner.”