It was time for a change. For Lil Herb, growing up in the crime-ridden homicidal neighbourhood of Terror Town, Chicago produced alarming and life-lacerating revelations with which the young rapper eagerly packaged and delivered into a powerful blend of drill music; a hard yet honest sound soon elevating the teen spitter as one of the most lyrical and prolific drill artists on the Chicago scene with his acclaimed mixtape Welcome To Fazoland and collaborations with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Chance The Rapper and Common. But nearly two years have passed since Herb first emerged with his debut tape - raw and reckless - and since then, he's further witnessed the life altering effects of his city's inner-city violence, while losing copious comrades in its wake.

In a city so ruthless for picking off their youth before reaching adulthood, Herb's recent twentieth birthday is a milestone worth celebrating and an evolution welcomed. He's since changed his name to G Herbo, signed to Cinematic Music Group and dropped his long-awaited mixtape, Ballin Like I'm Kobe in honour of his late friend, Jacobi "Kobe" Herron, who was gunned down in 2013. Matured, settled and humble, G Herbo has shifted gears for the sake of his career and his life.

Lil Herb to G Herbo. Tell me about the name switch and why that was necessary for you.

The name switch was really just a matter of me feeling like I'm maturing. G Herbo. I have that name for a thousand reasons, G can mean a thousand things.

You just turned twenty so you've grown. You're not Lil anymore.

Yeah, a couple days ago.

Happy birthday. Since that transition is one of maturity, how do you think your music has evolved with you?

Thank you. I feel like I've matured and evolved musically, because I've seen more. From being young, I was still on that Chicago thing and it's really just me maturing as a man and seeing more of my life and being through more and knowing that I could really change my life and my family's lives with what I'm doing. So I really tried to focus more and take it more serious. That's with anything. Always mature and grow. I was fifteen-sixteen when I started rapping. I'm twenty now, so of course, I'll mature.

What's the biggest lesson you've learned since you popped up doing music at fifteen-sixteen?

You have to have faith and be focused in order to win. You could always have the talent. The talent could be there and you could be so stuck in your ways in your talent and somebody could work harder than you and put in more time and be more focused and have more faith than you and they'll out-pass you. That's with anything in your life. You just have to stay focused. Never get too stuck in your ways. That's why I like that I'm so humble. I like to remain humble, because I know at any moment, it could all be gone and I'm doing this to change a lot of people's lives. The slightest error could cost me my life or my career, so it's really just about staying grounded and being above water. Never get too caught up in your ways. Whatever point of success you're in in your life, there could always be more success. Always try to make yourself better.

Well-said. And congrats on the recent deal. How has signing to Cinematic signified a new start for you?

It's been good so far. The pace has picked up since messing around with Cinematic. What I'm going to be doing for the next six months is going to be big. You're going to be seeing a lot more in terms of the visuals. Everything is going to be different. It's going to be a whole other level as far as my brand, period.

And you recently released the new mixtape, Ballin Like I'm Kobe. From the articles online, I read that a student was suspended for refusing to stop listening to your mixtape in class. What was your reaction to that?

I put that on my Instagram. I didn't think it was real at first. It reminded me, almost, of myself. It's cool. I used to be in school listening to my Lil Wayne and my Juelz Santana in my headphones, going through the hallways and getting in trouble with the teachers. For somebody to really be going and doing the same thing that I was going through and it's with my music, that's powerful. It makes me feel good. It's not like he's doing anything bad or being disrespectful. He's being a kid. He might go back and laugh at that. I wish I can meet him.

Your fan-base has been unrelenting. Even with the whole XXL thing when they were shocked you didn't make the freshman cover this year. They ride for you. What makes them so loyal in your opinion?

By them staying loyal to me, they know that I'm true to my fans. I'm true to them so they're true to me. I love my fans. I stay an extra hour at my shows because I took a hundred or two hundred pictures. You've got to connect with the fans. Walking through the mall, I don't get upset, even when I'm having alone time, I still go the extra mile to take those extra two-three pictures and get on Snapchat with the fans. You have to connect with them. They be surprised, but I thought that's what you're supposed to do. A lot of people don't the way they're supposed to and that goes a long way. They are the people that make you who you are. My fans could have given up on me a long time ago. I went two years without dropping any material, almost. They coulda been gave up on me but they never did. I know I have real die-hard fans.

And you finally blessed them with Ballin Like I'm Kobe. Was the delay because of everything that was happening behind the scenes with signing to the label?

Exactly. Really just me going through what I was going through with my team and making the right the decisions and moving the way I wanna move for the rest of my life and my career. It was a minor setback for a major comeback. And not even a comeback, I was still connecting with my fans, but really to be able to drop the amount of material I'm supposed to drop throughout the year.

'Bottom of the Bottom' was my favourite track on the mixtape for its emotionally-charged message. What's your process or formula for writing emotionally-driven yet conscious drill songs?

I just be in the studio and it depends on how I'm feeling. I can't break it down the way I want, because I'm really just talking about what's going on and what I've been through. Everything on my tape is non-fiction. Everything is really my life. I'm emotional, because I actually relive those moments. That's what I be thinking about and those are my real feelings. I'm writing my life on paper and everything that I've got in me is put into the song. It's me in those moments in my life. I'm talking and it's coming out the right way.

I know that you named the tape after your late-friend Jacobi Herron. How do you feel that it best represents his legacy?

I'm still keeping his name out there and he's been gone for two years now. His name is still alive. The whole country's been screaming "Ballin like I'm Kobe," anticipating the tape. It lives on. We always had heart to hearts and he'd tell me where he wants to see me and to stay focused. He'd tell me to stop coming outside on the block. He'd tell me that before things got serious, two years ago. I know he'd be proud of me if he was here and his name lives on.

The most obvious takeaway from BLIK is the way you've distanced yourself from the destructive inner-city violence of Chicago. How did you get to that place mentally while never leaving physically?

I got to that point mentally by being through so much. Life changes and situations change reality and life. There were times when you could have lost your life and it's about learning how to move. It's not even about not being that type of person anymore. I've already lived that life. It's not about going back to it, it's about really doing something. Be smart and make the right moves in order for you to be the last man standing. You should always know that at some point in time, you've got to mature.

Do you feel like you've solidified yourself in the game yet?

No, I don't. I paved the way for myself to earn respect in the music industry, but I don't feel like I've solidified myself yet. I may mark a point of success for myself, but I know that, even where I am now, I could be way ahead if I just focus and make the right decisions. I look at myself as a career artist. I know years from now, I could still be in the game and powerful. I don't even want to compare myself to anyone. I just want to make myself better.

And what would you say your greatest accomplishment is?

Being able to remain humble. I know that I still have a long way to go. Every day you learn. I want to make myself better as a person, as an artist and change the people's lives around me. Staying humble is my greatest accomplishment.