For about an hour this past Sunday, NYC felt like Los Angeles. There are always rumblings that every rapper gets love in New York besides New York rappers, and YG's performance at Irving Plaza appeared to reinforce that notion, especially because his set was so aggressively West Coast. His stage set-up was a physical replica of the 400 Spruce Street home in Compton where he grew up and has since made famous. A sold-out crowd of people who very well may have never set foot in the neighborhood YG takes so much pride in chanted records like "BPT" back to him verbatim. Someone in the vicinity made a comment about how they'd seen him perform for a mostly empty venue just a year ago, but things have changed.
YG’s debut album, My Krazy Life, has earned high marks across the board from critics and rap veterans alike. His smash single "My Nigga" is certified platinum and reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now corporations are clamoring for endorsements. He struck a deal with Footaction, who outfitted him for the tour and will release a documentary on him in the coming weeks. The celebrate their partnership, the company hosted a private event for YG a few hours before the concert. Clad in Levi's and Converse, all procured from Footaction, YG moved through the space with the furor of a wide-eyed new artist. In the midst of it all, we spoke about his album, his storied relationship with his mother, and why he doesn't care if a girl cheats on him.
Interview by Ernest Baker (@ernestbaker)
You’ve been grinding for years now. Did you see your career getting to this point?
I ain’t see it. I’m the type of nigga that until it happens, I don’t see nothing.
When did it hit you that you’re a big deal now?
I still don’t feel like that. [Laughs.] On some numbers shit, I ain’t that nigga right now. But on some L.A. shit, on some West Coast shit? Yeah. I knew it was something big going on when my album got leaked and Rolling Stone and Billboard were writing about the album [and giving it scores that were] high as fuck. Everybody started going crazy that it leaked. We was at SXSW and niggas start running and everybody was putting that shit on. Sales went up.
A consistent theme on the album is your relationship with your mom. How is it now that you’re in this new phase of life?
Shit’s the same way. My mama’s been supportive since day one. I fucked up and I did some hood shit and I went to jail and my mama was right there doing everything. She lost her job because she was doing all my court dates, trying to bail me out. She got fired for that. My mama’s been there. Later on, my pops was there, too, but he was in jail. But our whole relationship's A1. It’s the same as it’s always been, but right now, I’m doing something positive.
There’re less fuck-ups to have a problem with.
She just be worried about me being in the streets. She’d rather me go on tour than be in L.A.
When you’re in L.A., you’re back in the hood no matter what?
I’m over there. I’m over there. That’s my blood.
Do you feel like monogamy is possible? That “if you cheated on me I won’t care” lyric kills me. Do you feel like that’s just what life is?
That is what life is. We all young at the end of the day. We be in relationships and we really ain’t supposed to be doing what we doing. You’re supposed to marry somebody. All this shit be going on and we not married, so I expect whatever to go on. We sinning already.
What’s this whole Footaction partnership about?
Footaction saw me swagging so they reached out so we could do a little collab and talk about my style and the culture and the come-up and all that.
Did you see Nas say that you’re one of his favorite artists right now?
I saw that on my Twitter, but I didn’t really see it.
It wasn’t a video interview or anything. It was a Reddit AMA and he listed you with Jay Electronica, Rick Ross, ScHoolboy Q, and Young Jeezy as his current favorites.
That’s crazy. Shit. Salute for everything he ever did for the rap game and the culture.
Do you feel like Nick Young’s house got robbed because people were listening to “Meet The Flockers”?
Nah. I don’t know. I don’t know.
What does gangbanging and being a Blood mean to you now that you’re not in the streets everyday?
That’s life that I chose to live. That’s what it is. I was gangbanging before I got signed and all that shit. So I’m the same nigga. That’s all I know. It’s regular to me because all my homies is gangbangers, or if they not gangbangers, they gang-affiliated. That’s life in L.A.