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.