A Quick 15 Minutes With YG, Rap's Hottest New Star
Photos courtesy of Universal Music Group/Island Def Jam
At heart, YG is an everyman rapper to the core. He doesn't completely crowd the mind with a ton of abject wordplay like his Compton compatriot Kendrick Lamar, but instead crafts pop-rap tunes that bite with far more believable menace than, say, Rick Ross.
His first major effort came in 2009 with L.A. singer Ty Dolla $ign on the "find 'em, fuck 'em and flee"-espousing underground hit "Toot It & Boot It." Soon after he inked a deal with fabled New York label Def Jam Records but his career stalled thanks to a burglary conviction, the date of which he commemorates on the cover of his new album. But since his release, YG's blunted tone in tandem with West Coast producer/current radio kingpin DJ Mustard has forced Def Jam's hand through a series of buzzworthy mixtapes, culminating in his chart-topping March debut My Krazy Life.
Thursday, he makes his first headlining appearance at House of Blues in the midst of an insane promo schedule behind the album, which many have called one of the best summer rap records to come along in quite some time. But before he hits that particular stage, YG was kind enough to step into Rocks Off's hallowed halls of questions that wind up getting answers. Sadly, we failed to mention anything about Monday's "blood moon" (YG is affiliated with the Bloods), but everything else seemed fair game.
Rocks Off: First off, congratulations on the new album, all the praise it's received and all the promo you've had to do for it. YG: Yeah, yeah, off-top good-lookin', homie.
You've never performed in Houston, have you? Nah, I haven't had my own headline show out in Houston. I've been on tour there a few times but this my first headline date, though.
People in Houston are already calling this the definitive summer record -- and it's April. That means the people love it!
I've read in numerous interviews that you cite Def Jam Vendetta as one of the reasons why you signed to Def Jam.. Nah, that's not the reason I signed. It was just their brand, really. I didn't grow up in the music industry, so I didn't know about record labels but I knew about their brand -- because they're culture. That's culture shit, you feel me?
I just mentioned the Def Jam Vendetta game, you feel me? Now that ain't the reason I signed. I had the game, though.
So who was your favorite character? Man, I don't remember that shit! [Laughs] I remember Redman [and] Method Man [were] on that muthafucka, though.
Going into the album, people seem to have certain favorite songs, whether it be "I Just Wanna Party" or "Who Do You Love." Why do you think people are drawn to "Sorry Momma," and why did you close the album with that record? Um, because I was telling a real-life story and at the time my momma was in my ear while I was gangbanging, stuff like that. That's her on the intro of the album warning me, but I didn't listen. I was robbing shit, hanging with the homies, fucking bitches and then I had to chill.
She was there for all of it. So at the end of the day, my momma was there to see me through. So I was just telling my story.
Interview continues on the next page.
Do you think rappers being more relatable, especially out in L.A., is what's making L.A. come back to the forefront? I don't know, I think what it is really is that everybody is putting in that work. The L.A. lifestyle isn't offending nobody -- it just really sounds good. Like back in the '90s with Snoop and Dre; everybody wanted to hop on their shit.
People try to compare you and Mustard to a new Dre and Snoop. What was the first record you and he made that you knew was a hit? "Bitches Ain't Shit" and the "I'm Good" record off my first mixtape that popped, Just Re'd Up. We did both of those records and we knew.
Funny thing is, many don't realize you're the one doing the "Mustard On the Beat" tag, right? Yeah.
By all means, you're on the radio just as much as anybody else right now. [Laughs] For real, that shit don't count! That's just a drop.
When you did Revolt Live last month, you had girls in there about to faint. Heh. They fuck with your boy real hard, G.
So Thursday night, how do you think fans are gonna react to your show? The show gonna be crazy, bro. People gonna come out and respect, and they gonna fuck with it because I don't [just] come out and just do song after song. There's gonna be fan interaction, so whoever comes to the show [will] either be a bigger YG fan or a new YG fan.
Is there any idea on what's going to be the next single for the album? We trying to figure that out right now, bro! We got so many records on the album.
That's quite a good problem. It's a good problem to have!
YG headlines House of Blues Thursday night with Fat Pimp, Dorrough and DJ Mustard. Doors open at 8 p.m.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.