At first, Sebastian Torgus thought the guy on the other end of the phone line was joking.
"Gucci? Is he even out of prison yet?"
A few months ago, things were very different for 21-year-old Torgus, better known by his stage and social name, Seb Torgus. Different indeed, this Friday the longtime actor, fashion hustler and model takes the stage to open for none other than Gucci Mane himself, all on the strength of his breakthrough single, "Sad Boy Anthem" which has propelled him towards becoming just the latest act to emerge from left field amongst an ever-talented crop of artistry happening across Chicago and beyond. To be sure, we've largely come to expect this time of stratospheric rise, having seen it several times over throughout the course of the last few years. This one, however, is unique in the fact that Torgus never really meant to make it, the goal wasn't playing the UIC Pavilion ahead of one of hip-hop's cemented greats. He was just making music he thought sounded good.
"I record over at Fort Knox and I was in the studio awhile back working on some music and this promoter happened to hear my shit while I was in there and I had no idea who he was, he told me he was going to book me for this Gucci show," said Torgus, a sarcastic tone to his voice. "It was right after he was out of prison so I wasn't even sure there was a Gucci show, but the dude was vibing with me. Everyone was just like, 'this is so sick and random, but somehow it's going to work."
A native Chicagoan, Torgus grew up around the city's limits, attending Niles North for high school where he took part in theater plays and musicals, picking up vocals lessons and training in the process. Without clear plans after graduation, the oft-animated crossover act fell into the world of acting and modeling which he had dabbled in previously, finding larger successes after school that would lead to an artistic journey that lands squarely onstage this Friday night.
"I started doing this shit seriously like five months ago," said Torgus over the phone this week. "So this is all super new for me, I never took music too seriously but the guys at Rich America believed in me and thought they could do something with it and the first song I made was super dope and went kind of crazy."
If anything has been learned from the subsequent waves of talent that have arrived, broken through and throttled up to the big screen, it's that it can happen just about anywhere, at any time, to almost anyone. Torgus is the latest success in a series of wins for the city's creative class that continues to speak to the idea of a sustaining Chicago Renaissance. With the confluence of both longtime steadily-paced acts and surprise breakthrough artists, the city continues to position itself as the most exciting music locale in the country today. For his part, Torgus is happy to finally be mentioned in the conversation, regardless of how quickly it may seem like he's moved across stages.
With "Sad Boy Anthem" continuing to pick up steam on the internet, utilizing a sort of Kodak Black-meets-Corbyn-meets-something-else aesthetic that speaks to the sort of forward-leaning Millenial style of "rap" that has come to dominate the scene at large, Friday night's show should be far from the last we see of this multi-talented creative who's admiringly capitalized on a great opportunity. While it may seem like a left field move, it's been obvious for awhile now that Torgus would find the limelight one way or another.
"Everyone has been trying to hate and say I paid for the spot or something and it's like 'nah this happened so randomly and at the right moment," said Torgus. "Everyone's either so mad, Internet trolls are saying all this shit about me which is really funny and it's random for me too, but I'm really excited to get out there Friday and show everyone what I can do."