Recidivism rates in California are at 70% (the highest in the nation), but Compton native YG is determined not be among those trapped in the revolving door of prison and parole. After his stint in the Big House, he signed to Def Jam in 2009, and things are heating up. He just unleashed Just Re’d Up 2 on the world featuring Jeezy, Snoop and several other industry Big Wigs riding beats alongside the young upstart. His official album debut is due out in August, and it may well be an endless summer for the Young Gangster. Tonight he plays Knitting Factory. We caught up with “Bompton”s own for the big night.
See also: YG’s Ratchet City
So where in California are you from exactly? How did that influence your raps?
I’m from Compton, but we say Bompton. That’s all I rap about, as far as what I see. I decided to make my music about things that I personally go through and my friends go through.
Yeah. Actually, that’s the perfect label for it. Because that’s all I’m about. I appreciate other types of music, but as far as what I’m making and what I want to be known for, that’s it. Reality rap is it. That ratchet sound, I don’t fuck with it. We just make music for my lifestyle and how we live. Reality rap, bruh. Some of these fake artists should be sued for false advertising.
So you had an interesting introduction to writing rhymes. Care to tell people about that?
Some dissed me on a song and I heard it so I responded. It was some high school clique shit and we was already beefing with each [other]. It wasn’t like real beef because we kind of knew each [other]. But the one kid who made the record, he ain’t really know me like that. So I’m like, “I don’t know this nigga, hold on.” He can name the other niggas because he knew them but I took offense when he said my name because I didn’t even know him. So I responded.
Did the fake beef ever get serious?
At first we was going back and forth at each othe,r but we had friends in common who called us both and got us to end the beef. But I liked rapping so, after that, I kept making music. Then I stopped going to school so i decided to make music full time. Well not full time, I was still doing crime.
What did you end up going to jail for?
Residential burglary. I was looking at two years, but I did 6 months instead. I remember being in jail, promising myself I wasn’t going to ever steal a single thing again. Jail is not for me.
So how did you end up on Def Jam’s roster?
I got signed in 2009 when I was fresh out of jail. While I had been locked up my MySpace page was blowing up because of my songs. So while I’m in jail my moms told me labels was calling up. I’m sitting in jail and my shit is buzzing and niggas biting my shit and getting their songs on the radio, totally taking my lyrics and ideas. So when I got out I took a meeting with Def Jam and with Atlantic. I ended going with Def Jam just because I was more familiar with them as a brand.
It must have felt great to get that legal money.
Hell yeah. I was hoping rap would be paying the bills, feel me? I’m a high school drop out with no Plan B. It was the streets or rap and I already told you I wasn’t really feeling the [consequences] of street life.
It seems though that you’re moving more into the spotlight at Def Jam. Any particular reason why?
Well the new president at the label, Joey, has a lot to do with that. We chopped it up a few times and it’s just a better situation. We met last November and it’s been good since. I been putting out mixtapes to get my show money because no one is gonna stop me, but now I’m on some shit. I got the west coast on lock so now I’m reaching out more because I’m trying to get to the other side so I can lock that down too.
Well I heard you enlisted A$AP Ferg to help realize that goal. Good choice. How did that collab come about?
I forget how we connected. I think my management reached out to him and we came out to New York to link with him. Ferg directed the video for the song we did. He’s talented. He directed his video for “Work.” Anyway, we just shot the video last night. I left at 5am without seeing the finished product, but from what I saw in the raw footage, man, shit look hard. The song is called “Click, Clack, Bang,” so you already know it’s gonna be some hard shit.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
It’s going to be called, I’m From Bompton. The album is scheduled for August so we’re just going to work some of these records to build anticipation. Young Jeezy is executive producing it too.
That should be interesting. Have you been listening to any albums in particular to get you in that “classic album” mind set?
I always listened to Quik, NWA, Snoop, Dre, E40… I was banging all that. Honestly though the shit I was really listening to was Weezy. I think it was the type shit he was rapping about and the way he was doing it that made me want to rap more. I have been listening to Doggystyle and The Chronic and even Kendrick’s shit a lot more once I started talking about doing an album.
Good list of inspiration. So how does K. Dot’s success make you feel?
I feel good about Kendrick doing his thing. I was fucking with him out there for a little minute. He put the spotlight back on Compton so I’m happy for him and how he’s representing for the city.
So I heard you won a Grammy. How in the fuck did that happen so soon?
[Laughs] Well there’s a story behind that. I [won] a Grammy for Best Rap Song for “Niggas in Paris” because [they] sampled “Toot It and Boot It.”
Wow. So does that mean we’re going to see you with bigger name producers now?
Naw, I’m still fucking with the same niggas I started with from day one. I don’t give a fuck about nobody. My type of music is my style, it’s based on my lifestyle. My shit sounds like some west coast shit and I’m very particular about keeping it like that so I don’t trip about no other producers.
Now that things are rolling and your expanding are there anythings you’re cautious of?
Shit goes on everyday, all types of shit that makes me wanna slow down. Shit like shoot outs at clubs make me maybe not want to slow down, but move better than how I’m moving. I will say this though, I’m cautious about flying. I don’t like to fly. I fly every other day so I’m getting better at it, but I don’t like it.
YG rocks performs at Brooklyn Knitting Factory tonight.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 7, 2013