Huntsville, Alabama's G-Side are ushering in a new era of Southern rap. Two of the hardest-grinding MCs in the business, ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova witnessed immense struggle firsthand and have worked ceaselessly to carve out a bright future for both themselves and their city. Buttressed by the bass-heavy, space-age sounds of local production gurus Block Beattaz, G-Side are an inescapable force, a perfect mix of positivity and swagger preaching, as SPIN coined, "no-bullshit, no-excuses achievement." Raised ablock apart from one another in impoverished Athens, the duo started rapping together in 1999 inspired by the gangsta stylings of UGK, the fierce originality of Dungeon Family, and the independent spirit of No Limit. The name came easily—they hailed from the gutter side of town—and their chemistry was instant: ST with his laidback lyrical delivery and Clova with his straight-ahead iciness.
After a pair of albums that showcased their transition from street money to legitimate means, G-Side broke through with 2009's Huntsville International, winning over tastemakers as diverse as HipHopDX, Pitchfork and NPR with a mix of woozy, synth-based production and sharp, style-steeped rhyme. But 2011 was the group's biggest year yet, finding them on the road here and abroad, playing behind two new albums. The One...Cohesive was stately and focused, showcasing loads of Huntsville talent (à la Slow Motion Soundz), live strings and piano, and samples as diverse as Enya & Beach House. Meanwhile, iSLAND, released directly to their fans via Bandcamp, solidified its predecessor's blue collar themes and cinematic score into an exhilarating feat of lyrical conviction and trunk-rattling beats. As G-Side grinds into the 2012 —with an album in the works, tour dates and festivals to come—the world hustles to keep pace.