Tyga still doesn't get the respect that he deserves. In the past year, he's released a No. 1 album, Careless World: Rise of the Last King, and its two biggest singles, "Rack City" and "Faded," have both gone platinum. Apparently, that's not enough to win over an entire rap community, and, far from oblivious to the status of his career, Tyga knows it, but his next move is what matters most.
We recently spoke with the 22-year-old L.A. rapper about the varied reactions to previous accomplishments, as well as current topics of interest, like his rumored engagement, his mentor Lil Wayne's obssession with skateboarding, and the rumored beef between G.O.O.D. Music and YMCMB.
Tyga was incredibly candid, and revealing, with his responses. Continue reading for insights on everything from which city he exclusively shops in and what to expect from his upcoming album, Hotel California.
Interview by Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo)
Whenever I'm in L.A., I notice that they play your music on the radio so much more than anywhere else. You have hits that are nationwide, but still, there’s such a difference.
Oh, yeah. Home has been good. I got five, six records in rotation on the radio out here, just on the West Coast. I still have my main core fans that are everywhere, like in New York. I got a lot of fans in New York, but I think a lot of the radio stations are regional. So they play the main stuff that’s hot, and then they’ll play their regional, local stuff that’s hot. It’s like, my stuff is big worldwide, but here, it’s regional, you know?
When I go to New York and I turn [the radio] on, I hear Jay-Z, Jadakiss, Dipset. A lot of that stuff. That’s where A$AP started getting spins first.
What's it like mingling in the celebrity, Hollywood scene. Is that your style?
A lot of this shit is lifestyle shit. I’m making music that I love and I want to hear. At the same time, things like making money, making crazy money—you gotta find ways to reach to everybody, but uplift everybody. I never wanted to be that fad type of artist. When I looked up to artists, watching TV, I wanted to see somebody. I wanted to touch that person. I wanted to sound like them. I wanted to move like them. That’ s what I want my fans to do. So that’s why, everything that I do, the music I make, how I dress, it’s all based off my lifestyle. People can look up to something and be motivated to get there.
I saw that “Faded” went platinum. It’s really like, the music got you here. Do you remember when people thought you were a joke. I know that had to hurt you at some point. Now it’s like, platinum singles, and it’s because of the music. It’s not like you got people’s attention off ploys. Your music got to a quality where people couldn't deny it anymore.
Everybody remembers when I dropped “Coconut Juice.” I was like 16 when I did that record. I hadn’t found myself yet, musically. It was put on a big platform at the time, and that’s what got out to the world. But, I think you go through the negative stuff to get to the positives. You gotta be a realist. You gotta relate to people and that’s what I do. I feel like everybody has their own opinion on what they want to hear and what they don’t want to hear. We all got our own fans.
Now that you don't have so much prove like last time, what's the mindset going into Hotel California?
Now I'm comfortable. I've built my own sound, but I'm not going to drift away from that sound too much. Making music is like being the president: You can’t tell people you're going to make health care free to get them behind you, but when you get that role, you don’t do it.
What I'll do is make smarter records, collabing with the right young artists, like A$AP and Wiz, who I can relate to.
Do you have songs with A$AP Rocky or Wiz Khalifa coming on the next album?
Nah, I'm just giving you an example of where I want to take this album, and really, what I want to reach with this. I feel like this album that I just dropped, a lot of those songs went over people’s heads. It didn’t get that look and it didn’t get the attention it should have.
Are there things you regret on the album that help you understand why it didn’t get that look? Do you feel like, "Fuck, I gotta come harder"?
Nah, that was a great album. I wasn’t even going to put “Faded” or “Make It Nasty” on the album because I was making that album with a certain kind of theme and story. There were records that related to my life. The sound was mature. I think it was just too mature. But a lot of people like the album. It’s still a great album.
I know what you mean by "too mature." I kind of wanted it to be another #BitchImTheShit mixtape. I think people wanted that.
Exactly. So it’s like, I know the type of music I love to make and I know the music motherfuckers care to hear from me. But I'm capable of making all that other shit, too. At the end of the day, do I want people to talk about me like, "Oh, his album? It was cool. It was real cool." Or motherfuckers to be like, "Man, that motherfucker aced it. He’s sick." That’s what I want people to be like when they refer to me. I don’t want it to be just be, "Oh, it’s cool. It’s dope." I want them to be like, "That nigga is sick. That nigga is a beast."
Especially when people are still apprehensive about how they're allowed to feel about Tyga.
Motherfuckers is dick riders. Motherfuckers don’t post the shit that they really, really love. They post the shit that the readers want to see and gets views. It’s like, Internet world. I be seeing shit and I be like, "C’mon dude." Even on some fashion shit, I check out y'all site and other sites and I’m like, "Man, I had them shits six months ago."
People aren’t really seeing what I'm doing. When I finally do it, niggas think like, "He’s just biting this person." Nigga, I don’t shop anywhere else but Paris. I don’t even buy my clothes in the States. On some real shit. I know what I be doing, that’s why I be threatening to other people. I don’t really worry about what the blogs say because I still sell out shows and I still got my fan base that’s loyal to me. And I love what I'm doing.
Yeah, man. That’s fucking hilarious and very true as well.
It’s real shit, though. I ain’t gonna name names or anything, but I be seeing shit and I be like, "Yo, that’s not sick." I can’t say that a lot of things I be seeing is sick. When I was in high school, I looked up to Fab and I looked up to Wayne and Cam'ron. I'd be like, "Man, them niggas are sick." That was my era that I felt like artists were just dope. Like, "These niggas are sick. They are swagged out." That’s what I wanted to see.
At the same time, I was an Eminem fan so I liked the lyrical shit, but I didn’t want to dress like him. I liked him when I wanted to listen to some lyrical, crazy stuff and be in my own world, but if I'm around my homies, I’m driving, I’m getting dressed, I’m about to out, this is what I want to hear. Like, I was a big Cam'ron fan, and I still am a fan, but he was one of them dudes that was really trendsetting. You gotta think—he’s from the East Coast. His whole style is East Coast, New York. Me from L.A., saying that? I didn’t say Snoop. I could say somebody like that, but that’s the style that I had fucked with when I was younger.
Does being around people—Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake—who get the looks that you are trying to get on this next album make you want to turn your shit up?
It makes me want to rep harder and just be a beast. I don’t want to go to pop though. Young Money is mainstream and we big, but, you don’t have to make pop records to be bigger. I don’t want to be like, "Alright, now I been on from all these singles, let me go make some crossover stuff." That’s not what my fans want hear from me. It’s cool, you get some radio spins, but I can do that with what I'm doing now. I think it’s just branding. It’s a lot about music too, but it’s about what you said, your lifestyle. When people talk about me, they can vision my video. They can vision me—how I dress, my whole swag, and everything.
On this next album, I'm about to gather all these things that I learned in this last two years. Let me gather everything up and let me really go hard and really, really do this shit and start showing people my life and engage with more of my fans and really step up to the plate. I got my own sneakers with Reebok. I got the clothing line, Last Kings. I got so much other stuff that’s unannounced that I'm not going to say yet because I want it to be rolled out the right way. I’m working hard, though. It’s crazy because I really got fans out here that I didn’t think were my fans. So many people, just off music. I got over 10 mixtapes. It's crazy how they surface like that.
The whole perception of Tyga as an artist shifted when people started hearing “Make It Nasty” out and shit. It definitely doesn’t take a label anymore. There was the OG “Rack City” with the strip club video before the one with the Grand Theft Auto video. Since you were just talking about Lil Wayne, what's your relationship like with that guy? Is he really super into skating right now? What’s up with him?
He really likes to skate heavy right now. One thing about the skating lifestyle is they use that word "poser" a lot. When you go skating, skating is a lifestyle. He’s not trying to—like, that’s his lifestyle now. That’s what I talk about when motherfuckers go hard. One thing about Wayne is like, that nigga go hard. I performed with him last weekend in Vegas and they built a skate ramp inside the club. That was the last thing I would have ever thought to have. You got bitches going to the club, getting fly, watching niggas skate in the club. [Laughs.] That shit just sounds crazy.
Honestly, I think it’s really wack that people hate on him so much for that shit. Like, what's wrong with someone being focused on a hobby and enjoying something new in their life?
People hate on Jesus. They hate on Jesus. There’s people in the world who don’t believe in God! And Jesus! So, I think I can’t argue with these people. You're never going to please everybody and when you realize that and you get into your own zone, you're pleased with people that fuck with you and respect what you do. That’s what it’s really about.
You had some shit to say about people who sit online all day and criticize everything. One of the things people definitely say now is that Wayne fell off or Wayne can’t rap anymore. Does that even penetrate YMCMB's circle? Is that something that’s thought about?
What do you mean? Like, you talking about Wayne’s rap skills?
Yeah, when people try to say shit like, "Wayne isn’t as good anymore."
People’s lives don’t change as drastically as ours. Every day, I do something new that I have never done. People, they do the same thing every day. They get up. They go to work. They have the same routine, so their life is the same. The only excitement a lot of people get is when they go to the club. Not a lot of people are leaders. A lot of people are followers, which is cool, that’s how you get more fans and stuff. You need people to follow. It’s just crazy, man. I don’t even worry about all that. I know what I like to listen to and I know what I want to hear.
What about when someone isn't just hating on your music or how you dress, but when the hate gets personal. You have to look and see a website saying you got an engaged, or that you have a child on the way. Does that cross the line?
I don’t know. That’s personal business. Blogs and shit, these motherfuckers don’t have no respect and that’s why I don’t do interviews with nobody. None of these bloggers, because they don’t have no respect. They have no respect for the artist no more. It ain’t no artistry. People don’t respect it. That’s why a lot of people fuck with the same people they fuck with. That’s why I know when Jay drops the new record, it’s gonna be with Angie Martinez or Flex. They built that relationship with people where it’s like they're only gonna mess with who they mess with.
The blog shit is becoming so corny now. That’s why I stick to a few websites that I like to go on. People need to stop worrying about just that world.
The shit is just crazy. The shit that you see online, comments like, "Where do these motherfuckers live at?" Who are they? That’s why I like Instagram. When people start to hate on that shit, it’s not as worse as Twitter because you can see photos. You can see who a motherfucker really is and it’s real.
Are you engaged? Is there any truth to that?
Nah. I’m not engaged, man. That’s what I’m saying. It’s like, lifestyle shit. Motherfuckers want to know your life. What kind of car you driving? That’s why your music gotta be lifestyle. That’s why I make my music lifestyle because that’s what it’s really about. It’s still about the music a lot—don’t get me wrong—but a lot of the shit is lifestyle. A lot of the artists that I listen to I don’t want to watch on TV.
Are you having a child with Blac Chyna?
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter about my personal life, really. That’s not what I want to talk about.
I respect that. Did you at least think the Nicki Minaj line on that 2 Chainz song that made light of your relationship with Blac Chyna was hilarious?
Yeah, she actually told me that she said something in the song. That was about two months ago. I was like, "What are you doing?" She was like, "You're gonna hear it." I’m like, "Alright." I heard it and I thought it was dope.
Was it funny to you or were you like, "What the fuck?"
It wasn’t really funny to me but I didn’t get mad about it. I just thought it was dope. I thought it was a dope little line. I thought she had a good verse on that record. I liked the verse overall.
She fucking killed that shit.
Yeah, that verse is hard.
The verse is ridiculous. That some shit that you'll rap hard in the car and not care who's looking.
Do groupies ever get old? You talk about them on a lot of songs.
I don’t think bitches, girls period, will ever get old. When I go home and get off tour, I’d like to have a piece of mind. I like to chill. I don’t like everything to be all chaotic like how it is when I step outside, you know?
It all depends on the person. I’m not one of them dudes where you'll come to my crib and it's just five, 10 niggas sitting around smoking. That’s just not me.
You were talking about fashion earlier and only shopping in Paris. The way that you want to be like the illest when it comes to raps, do you have that in mind when it comes to clothes? Do rappers compete with fashion the way that they do with their art?
What you mean?
Like, when you drop a verse on a song and think, "I want motherfuckers to think Tyga is a beast." Do you go for the same thing when you get dressed?
It’s not like I only shop in Paris to just say it. That’s not why I’m saying it. I just like the selection better out there. The selection is more rare, you know?
It’s just a personal style. Of course, nobody nobody wants to wear the same thing as similar artists. I do all my own shopping and I like to pick out what I like and push the game.
What's the competition like between artists when it comes to music?
I don’t really don’t be paying attention to everybody else’s stuff. Like I said, if it doesn’t appeal to me, if it doesn’t appeal to my lifestyle, I don’t really care to look at it. It just doesn’t matter to me.
That nonchalant attitude—"I don’t pay attention to or worry about what other people are doing"—does that apply to the G.O.O.D. Music/YMCMB beef? Is that a real thing?
That shit is stupid. That’s just what people want to see. It's entertainment. They can say whatever they want to say because they want to see these things happen. It’s like boxing. People are egging on Mayweather and Pacquiao. "I don’t care how them niggas feel. I want to see them fight."
That’s the same thing with music. That’s how the fans feel. Everybody wants to start beef with people. You could be sitting right next to the nigga, having a conversation, and if they feel like they want to pull something, they'll say that you got beef with him.
How do you feel about the conflict between Drake and Chris Brown? You're on Young Money, but you have a relationship with Chris Brown.
I think it’s wack. I don’t think it creates anything positive. Don’t worry about the little shit. Everybody’s rich. Why do you gotta worry about it? I can only speak as a fan and a friend. I can’t really say much about that.
What was it like to have your tour bus shot up earlier this year?
It’s just like when you get into a car accident. Some shit you just can’t prevent. Some stuff is just going to happen. A lot of these people don’t understand, you go out there and you travel and you got 30 hours to come perform for these fans. You come meet people in some of these cities and one person can fuck it up for everybody and it’s unfair. It’s unfair and out of respect for the fans, that’s why artists don’t tour a lot. They do what they want to do. Why would I break my neck and kill myself and drive 40 hours to come to this place to come see you and one motherfucker got fired up and disrespected the whole show and ruined it for everybody.
Well, everything else is looking super bright. Aren’t you about to go on tour with Nicki?
Yeah, I’m about to do the Closer To My Dreams tour with MTV. I’m bringing out Iggy Azalea and Kirko Bangz on that one.
Word. I heard about that.
So that’s like three weeks. And then, after that, I'm gonna take a break and start on my album. Then I'm gonna go overseas with Nicki for about a month.
That should be fun.
Yeah, over in Europe, you know the fans are crazy.