In this week’s Voice, I chatted with a few of the biggest young names in L.A. hip-hop for a piece on the style of minimalist, post-jerk, post-hyphy party rap that they’re calling ratchet music. Below are some outtakes from my conversation with one of leaders of that scene, the rapper best known for his semi-hit “Toot it and Boot it,” YG. For more, including YG’s take on the difference between beats from DJ Mustard and Ty$, how he gave the “Rack City” beat to Tyga, check the full article, in print or on the web.
Going way back, when did you start rapping?
I started rapping when I was like 17, a couple years ago. I started getting noticed like a year after I started rapping, but it was local though, ‘cus I was going to school and all that. I put a song on MySpace, and I used to go walk around and people used to sing the songs back to met. Then it got bigger and bigger the more i kept doing it. They started playing my songs at the local clubs, high school parties and all that. Then it went to 18 and over clubs and I was performing all over the city. Finally I hit Hollywood, and then I was going to San Diego doing shows. It just kept spreading.
Where in that did did The Real 4Fingaz come out?
The Real 4Fingaz came out in 2010, like April/May. That’s when I had the “Toot it and Boot it” song, it had just started blowing up and was playing on the radio, on Power 106, but it didn’t get added. So I put out the mixtape.
YG, “Toot It And Boot It”
What’s the story behind “Toot it and Boot it”?
The song came about when we were up in the studio, me and the homies, and they were like, “You should make a song called ‘Toot It and Boot It'”—that’s a little slang, like toot it and boot it, hit it and quit it.
And at what point did Def Jam start contacting you?
We put the song out, then at the top of ’09 I had to go to jail. So I went to jail, then I got out for a little bit of time and we shot the video for “Toot it And Boot it.” Then I went back to jail and we put the video out, so when I was in jail I had this little campaign going, this “Free YG” campaign, on the streets and on the internet. That’s what the Pushaz were doing, just free YG everything. And when I was in jail the song was blowing up and my name was blowing up because everyone was talking about “Free YG.” Then when I came home, that’s when I had meetings set up with labels—like I met with Atlantic, I met with somebody else, I met with Def Jam.
I met with [Def Jam Vice President] Max Grousse, and I told him I had to do a show in Hollywood at this club, you should come out. So when he came out to the club, saw me perform, I had that motherfucker poppin’. The next week he flew me out to New York, and I met with L.A. Reid and all of them, and thats when I got signed.
So the new tape, 4Hunnid Degreez—DJ Mustard produced the whole thing?
Mustard produced a little more than half of the records on there. Like, most of the uptempo records, Mustard produced.
How did you meet Mustard?
I met Mustard in the streets through the big homie—the same dude that introduced me to Ty$, he connected me with Mustard—his name is Big Beat. He was doing my street management type shit, then he connected me with Ty and we started making music. Then I needed to put out a mixtape, and I already had some DJ friends but he was like, “Nah, you should fuck with Mustard.” I had heard about Mustard, ‘cus he used to do all the parties. I knew who he was I just didn’t know him. I sent him the tape, he did his thing on it and sent it back, and I started making it into CDs to sell on the street. I met him after, and we just kept going.
What tape was that, that you sent to Mustard?
That was my first mixtape, it was called 4Fingaz. Then it was The Real 4Fingaz, then I put out Just Re’d Up, then 4Hunnid Degreez.
When did people start calling your sound ratchet music?
They’ve been calling it ratchet music since my Just Re’d Up mixtape, when me and Mustard busted our little shit. When people heard that, that’s when the whole little ratchet shit started. Then everyone else started coming out with their songs, but it started with me and Mustard on the Just Re’d Up tape.
How did the Pushaz Ink crew come together?
One day the crew was chilling and another homie who rapped was like, “We need to start a squad.” ‘Cus we were doing local shows and we had a whole bunch of people coming out and a whole bunch of homies coming to the shows, we just needed a name for us. So I came up with the Pushaz. Then the next week the homie Ace came up with the Ink, like Pushaz incorporated. And from that point on we just started pushing it. Back then it was a promotions team—whoever was rapping was rapping and whoever was around was just promoting the people who were rapping, just having fun, selling tickets, and going to the parties and the functions. Now, all the homies who are rapping, I’m trying to help them get on, so it’s like a label now.