This episode of “Renaissance Man” is about redemption, family and breaking down barriers. I sat down with a pair of first cousins whose story begins in downtown Philadelphia. One went to jail and the other to the rap game. Now known as Gillie da King and Wallo267, they came together to create one of hip-hop’s biggest podcasts, “Million Dollaz Worth of Game.”
They interviewed superstars like Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and Kevin Durant to extract “GAME”, or Guidance, Attention, Motivation and Education. But they approach it with a strong infusion of humor and irreverence, two ingredients that make wisdom stick.
And if they don’t have you running through a wall after this episode, check your pulse, my friend. Here is their abbreviated origin story.
Gillie is a dope artist who was part of the rap group Major Figgas, then went on to ghost-write for Cash Money Records artists like Lil Wayne. And he was one of the first hip hops to embrace the internet and use it to show off his raw personality.
“I’ve always found a way to make social media work for me,” Gillie told me. “I was big on Myspace when this first came out. Where a lot of older rappers struggled…I was never afraid to be who I was. On and off camera, I’m the same person. He knew how to make waves, calling out artists like Wayne, which led to bad blood. He was called a “live wire” and “too aggressive”.
They should have called him a trailblazer too, because he built a huge online following in an era when the internet was the Wild West.
“The whole time I thought it was entertainment…I saw the game from a different perspective,” Gillie said.
Meanwhile, Wallo was locked up. He was charged with armed robbery at age 17 and spent 20 years in prison. But his first arrest was on June 30, 1990.
“I was 11,” Wallo told me. He said he was impressionable and searching for his identity, thinking, “I must be a drug dealer, robber, pimp, whatever. I have to do something to get attention, to be accepted by beautiful women and people, and to be encouraged. So I said, I have to try to be one of them… I didn’t know who I was… And in the process, [you] waking up somewhere in a prison graveyard. And that’s what happened to me. »
Wallo does not glorify his time in prison. But he certainly didn’t rot there. He overcame it. He was preparing his second act. He had a contraband phone in jail and learned about social media and brand building. Just 150 days after leaving the big house in 2017, he had 60,000 Instagram followers thanks to his outspokenness.
“I always try to encourage people, even in prison. It was never about how I see myself. I was just living. I was living my improvised life on social media. In 2019, the cousins teamed up and brought their signature brand of humor, influenced by Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx, to the masses.
Gillie noted that it’s not really about flashy labels, cars and money: “We lead with personality and knowledge. We’re giving it to you in a way where, the urban feel, that little kid growing up in North Philly or Detroit… they can relate to it. But also a white child from suburban Iowa could understand it. This is how we try to get our message across.
In 2020, they struck a massive deal with Barstool Sports, where our mutual good friend Deion Sanders, who coaches at Jackson State, also landed. And Gillie has put aside any past friction with former associates.
“I just saw Lil Wayne at the Jackson State game. Shout out to Cash Money. Wish them nothing but the best. It’s part of my story. But I’ve moved on.”
Speaking of Jackson State, Gillie has been known to run down the sidelines as a player charges into the end zone.
And in November, Wallo braved the Ann Arbor cold to watch Michigan beat Ohio State. Wallo was there with my colleague Fab Fiver and Michigan hoops coach Juwan Howard.
“You see these games on [in] prison… To be there is unimaginable. Man, being able to run around the field after winning… Me and Juwan were there, and we were just enjoying it, man. It was just crazy.
But they live a surreal life. They both say their growth was organic, and I think that’s a testament to their authenticity. Now artists and athletes are clamoring to be on their podcast. Their dream guests are Denzel Washington and Michael Jordan. And they said television was in their future.
“We keep our heads on the ground. We just do ourselves,” Wallo said. And if they keep doing them, they might have to change the name of the podcast from “Million” to “Billion” because those cousins are unstoppable.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan iconoclast Fab Five, which rocked the world of college hoops in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before becoming a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the bestselling author of “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion designer, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership. Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.
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