A black Escalade enters a gated community to pick up 03 Greedo as the sun begins to rise over Dallas. It is just before 8 a.m. on March 16th, commemorating the Watts rapper’s first full day of freedom after spending nearly five years incarcerated in the Texas prison system.
Greedo, a musician who once described his sound as “emo music for gangbangers,” will perform at Billboard’s SXSW event in Austin in twelve hours, signaling a highly anticipated return.
Greedo, aged 35, smiles fondly as he recalls his past existence while tossing a luxurious duffel bag into the trunk of the car. This occurred during the summer of 2018, which was also his last week of leisure. In the span of 12 hours, he shopped at the Beverly Center, recorded at DJ Mustard’s studio, and filmed a late-night music video in Los Angeles. This was the last time he saw the sun before spending twenty years in a Texas prison. Due to his possession of four pounds of methamphetamine and two stolen pistols, he received this sentence as part of a plea agreement.
Greedo has existed as an intangible entity for five years. Despite this, he has continued to exemplify the essence of West Coast hip-hop as a force that has broadened the genre’s purview for a new generation, the heart and soul of the streets, and a triumphant figure who has returned to a region beset by adversity.
In the previous year, two individual tracks, “Trap House” (which features Shoreline Mafia) and “Substance,” were certified platinum without the assistance of promotional efforts while the artist was incarcerated. In spite of this, a slowed-down version of the latter song became a viral sensation on the social media platform TikTok in 2021, more than three years after its initial release, with over 200 million plays on Spotify.
Greedo’s lackadaisical admission, “I’ve never seen a TikTok,” serves as a stark reminder of the rapid cultural transformations that have occurred since his last appearance. “Although I am more significant than the industry recognizes, they are unaware because I have a significant presence in regions that are frequently neglected.
It’s almost unnerving to observe him in person. His face is adorned with a commanding beard reminiscent of a mufti from the sacred land. He wears a Louis Vuitton puffer jacket, black Amiri trousers, and a gray beanie that conceals his once-distinctive locs. Even though the tattoo on his face that reads “Living Legend” has begun to diminish, the words appear even more prophetic now.
The abrupt transition back into society appeared out of nowhere. The previous resident of the Jordan Downs housing facilities in Watts had been working with a parole attorney for the past several years, who just so happened to be the same attorney as UGK’s Pimp C. However, he was unaware of his imminent release until his mother informed him during a phone call in mid-January.