Parental advisory. Explicit content. This black and white rectangular label is found in the corner of thousands of rap tracks. For many years, even spanning into today, the rap genre was commonly viewed as being inherently explicit, full of drugs, sex, violence and cussing. Omaha rapper Pop G wants to put an end to that interpretation by creating a rap song he’s proud to let his mother and young son listen to.
Rapper Michael Ford, who goes by the stage name Pop G, released his debut single, “At All Cost,” on March 12 using no profanity.
Ford said rapping started as a hobby, but he wants audiences to take him seriously as he pursues it further. Before the single’s release, Ford posted three freestyles to Spotify, but he said he doesn’t want to rely on freestyles as his form of rap.
“The freestyles were just to hold people over to let them know I will be releasing music,” he said. “Going forward I probably won’t do any freestyles unless they’re really really popular, but at the same time, I don’t like doing that because I want to be unique and different. I don’t really like doing everything everyone else is doing.”
Ford described “At All Cost” as motivational and energetic, the kind of music he would want backing a fitness trend on TikTok.
“[It’s] as if you have a coach rooting for you to boost your confidence and telling you not to get discouraged,” he said. “It’s like a high energy tone. It’s kind of upbeat, so it’s kind of bouncy.”
Because “At All Cost” contains no profane lyrics, Ford said constructing the song was challenging, but he thinks it will make his family happy.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if my wife didn’t push me to do it,” he said. “I know I really made my mom proud. She’s always saying, ‘Why can’t you be like Will Smith? Why can’t you rap without cursing,’ and I’m like, ‘Mom, I’m trying.’ So I finally did it.”
His mom isn’t the only family member who benefits from Ford’s modesty. His 8-year-old son does, too, finally being allowed to listen to his dad’s music.
“He likes to brag to his friends that his dad is a rapper,” Ford said. “The thing is, I can’t ever let him or his friends listen to my music because I don’t want them to hear all that profanity … So I finally made a song that he could listen to and that his friends could listen to.”
Ford also believes the cleanliness of “At All Cost” will set him apart from other rappers who often write swear-heavy lyrics.
“There’s not many clean songs out right now,” he said. “There’s the edited version and there’s the explicit version. I just wanted to make one version of the song that everybody can listen to. I also didn’t want anybody to have a reason to not support it.”
Ford said the listener response for “At All Cost” has made it his most supported song, receiving nearly 700 Spotify streams so far, filling his Instagram comments with fire emojis.
Another Omaha rapper and good friend of Ford’s goes by his stage name, Death God, and gave Ford feedback on the single. The two met at their day jobs at Mutual of Omaha about a year ago and began to connect through music. Death God said the lyrics and message of “At All Cost” demonstrate how Ford is setting the foundation of his career.
“He’s explaining the passion he has for music and just how much he really wants it,” Death God said. “The listeners get told that he really means it; he’s not just bluffing.”
Death God believes Ford’s music will be mainstream one day, as much of a household name as Travis Scott or Meek Mill.
“It’ll be slow, especially right away, but I think he can make a living off it and be able to enjoy his life making music everyday,” he said.
Ford said he believes in speaking success into existence through the power of positive self-talk. He said if he thinks negatively about himself or his work, that negativity will turn into a poor final product and a downed mood. In addition to his manifestations, he credits his wife, family and especially his haters for his current success.
“People that don’t believe in me actually push me to go farther,” he said. “So keep hating. Keep doing your job.”