It’s a Wednesday afternoon in early May, and the sun is beating down on the patio outside a hyper-modern studio in Burbank, Calif. YG is worried about logistics. He just got off the phone with a famous DJ who wants him to make a guest appearance at a concert the coming weekend. YG moves quietly, with the careful control of an athlete, canvassing the eight or so people present about the quickest routes from Santa Monica to the Eastside of Los Angeles. The issue: the show conflicts with his daughter Harmony’s first birthday party, which he's unwilling to move or miss. Enthusiastic hangers-on tell him he’ll be able to make the trip in 30 minutes; despite his friends’ assurances, YG squints at Google maps on his iPhone and grimaces. 

An intercom buzzes. The six-inch-thick, wood-paneled gate hums to life and begins to reveal a black SUV. The second the gap becomes big enough to squeeze through, the driver peels into the parking lot, tires squealing as he turns into a spot. A few of those assembled freeze. YG, clad in a white T-shirt, black jeans, a Louis Vuitton belt, blue Toms, and gold bracelets, steps to the front of the porch, peering into the sun and pounding one of his fists into an open palm. Then he breaks into a smile and shouts at his friend: “Why you driving that like it isn’t mine?” 

Laughter, daps, “you good, bro?” Before long—but not before a few more questions about the 10 freeway during rush hour—YG suggests that I head into the studio’s main room with him to hear his sophomore album, Still Brazy. (At the time, he called the record by its working title, Still Krazy, and while he believed that the tracklist was locked in at the time, the album would be tweaked and expanded in the weeks to come.) As we disappear inside, the smattering of friends and publicists keep watch from the patio, but there’s nothing to see. The outside world is barely visible over the wooden gate, which has closed again.

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