Four years ago, Young Thug shared a major announcement. On November 15, 2016, he went on Snapchat and revealed that he was officially launching his own music imprint, Young Stoner Life Records, under 300 Entertainment. 

In the short video clip, Thug previewed his new office and unveiled the logo for YSL. As the camera panned around the workspace, Kevin Liles, co-founder and CEO of 300, gave a congratulatory speech. “The most important thing I could say to all of you guys is not whether it’s 300 or YSL,” Liles began, acknowledging a small crowd of label staff before turning his attention to Young Thug. “Look at the guy who committed to us every single day, always standing 300 with us. Him starting a new venture is going to take us to a different mindset. He’s not just an artist in this particular case.” 

A lot has changed since then. Instagram Stories has replaced Snapchat as the place to drop ephemeral content, hip-hop has become the most popular genre for the first time in music history, and YSL has signed over a dozen artists and released over 50 projects, eight of which have charted on the Billboard 200. But through all those changes, two things have remained constant: Young Thug is by no means just an artist, and YSL isn’t an ordinary label. YSL’s influence on the sound of modern rap is indisputable, but the label’s real superpower comes from its close-knit relationships. From its inception, YSL has operated as a family, with Thug recruiting his siblings and longtime friends to make up the roster of the label.

The past two years have been especially pivotal to YSL’s success, with Thug becoming more commercially successful than ever before, and artists like Gunna and Lil Keed forging paths for themselves as breakout stars. But a cloud of mystery still looms over the imprint. Who is on the roster? What’s 300’s involvement? To what extent is Young Thug really a part of the day-to-day responsibilities of the label? Basic details about the inner workings of YSL have surfaced on rare occasions, but many of those questions remained unanswered. Until now. For the first time, executives and artists in the YSL camp are ready to share the full story behind one of hip-hop’s most successful new labels.

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