YG first visited New York a little over a year ago. An old buddy was working with his management and asked if I could find a place for the Compton rapper to perform a few songs. At the time, YG had a West Coast hit, “My N*gga (Featuring Rich Homie Quan and Jeezy).” The song’s video had 7 million YouTube views (and now over 100 million), but most of New York club folk hadn’t heard it yet, except the head of programming at 1OAK, Michael Goldberg, who added YG and DJ Mustard to a Thursday bill.
I went down to the club as they were pulling up in two black SUVs. Out popped a dozen or so well dressed kids and Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy. YG’s Compton friends, most of whom had never been to New York, swarmed an area by the DJ booth. One of his friends, a young man in a LA Dodgers hat, placed a hand in my pocket and attempted to remove the contents. It took Jeezy’s intervention to stall the attempted robbery.
A few more weeks later “My N*gga” hit the East Coast. By then the song was a national radio hit. YG had signed with Jeezy’s Def Jam imprint CTE Worldwide. A second single–“Who do You Love?”–blew him up further. YG’s debut My Krazy Life LP came out in March and has since sold 175,000 copies. The album made countless year end top-ten lists. All of this is impressive considering that LA hasn’t had a true gangster rapper hit big since the Death Row era.
This week, YG released a short film, Blame It On the Streets, plus an accompanying EP. It’s based on his life in Compton. I spoke to the 24-year-old about making the autobiographical half-hour film.
“It was shot back in August,” YG told me over the phone. “There was a plan to make a movie after My Krazy Life came out. It’s based on ‘BPT’ and ‘Meet the Flockers,’ two songs off the album. I wrote the movie myself actually and produced it. It’s just a lot of my homies in the movie.”
Watching the hazy, raw film you do get a sense of YG’s pre-fame life. It opens with YG’s enemies throwing bottles at girls and smoking blunts. Cut to YG’s friends in a car trying to find him, but he’s having sex at a girl’s house. The enemies pull up on the friends and fire a handgun. No one is killed. The three friends link with YG at the girl’s house. The boys use burner flip phones, and wear big flannels, baggy pants or a shorts/socks pulled-up combo. All wear Chuck Taylors. They pack a bunch of guns and hunt down the enemies, killing one on a front lawn. Fade to day two. Another car picks YG up at another girl’s house. By this point some variation of “my n*gga” has been said a few hundred times. I won’t spoil the rest, but will say they cast the friend who initially introduced me to YG. As a cop.
“It’s just a few days in my old life,” he laughs. Judging from my experience with this crew last fall, things haven’t changed that much.
YG tours with A$AP Ferg next month. He hits New York on January 9th. BULLETT will be there.