Visiting the hlgnlife.co website thrusts you into a well-developed world of hip-hop music, culture, and digital business. It doesn’t hint at how it became the growing, thriving business of 2022, but the business’s backstory stems from the day a 10-year-old boy became a ward of the state.
On January 6, 1999, the state of Virginia acted to remove William Keck, now known as OG Illa, from his parents’ home and place him in the foster care system. Throughout the US, the justice system and social services strive to address domestic abuse and neglect cases without removing the child, but in Keck’s case, the court had to do it.
OG Illa describes that day as the day he lost his feeling of uniqueness.
“You’re just another social worker’s kid, another case on her load. You want to have a voice; you’re unique,” he told Style Weekly.
For eight years, the music artist shuffled from foster home to foster home, eventually landing in a teen group home until he turned 18.
Entering adulthood and striking out on his own, the entrepreneur and artist launched one venture after another, beginning with music when illness ended his budding soccer career. Keck had landed a soccer scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University, but a severe respiratory illness in his freshman year wreaked permanent damage and ended his soccer career.
As a Caucasian artist, it took some time for him to gain recognition in the Richmond, Va. rap scene. The prolific musician and producer released eight albums in seven years while building his regional following - 2015’s “Marijuana Made,” 2017’s “Zone,” 2018’s “Illegal,” 2020’s “Richmond Renegade,” 2021’s “Contraband,” “OG Scrilla,” and “Elite.”
He writes and performs music along with producing other artists. The artist also founded a record label, creative agency, and production studio. His company, theQshop, established in 2021, provides creative services, media, and artist management.
His label, Highlife Records, signed the music artist stayathomedad. His creative company now handles accounts for Roc Nation, Dreamchasers, and The Source.
Getting to this point only happened due to all the hardships he weathered as a child and teen though when his only choice became living the hooligan (hlgn) life. Even attending college, he did out of spite born from a high school teacher’s insult that he would never become anything. His freshman year of high school, he failed a course, spurring the insult.
Four years later he graduated with a 3.5 GPA as a star of the soccer team with a college scholarship. Although his college soccer career didn’t pan out, he stuck with Virginia Commonwealth.
In 2022, OG Illa has gone from kid falling through the cracks to musician and entrepreneur on the verge of major success. Will he first hit the Top 100 with one of his own songs or a collaboration?