Last year, Compton, California's YG enjoyed a 360-degree come up. He had an vine-friendly hit in "My Nigga," a certified club smash in "Who Do You Love?," and a critically adored long-play, My Krazy Life. Alongside DJ Mustard, he shaped the new sound of the Hot 100, laying foundation for the plunking keys and chants that catalyzed Iggy and Jidenna. There were dark moments as well: a public tiff with his long-time right-hand Mustard, and, this summer, a shooting that left him hospitalized. For his upcoming sophomore album, Still Krazy, YG is working with a spread of producers like TDE's Terrace Martin and Young Thug maestro London On Da Track, dabbling in the classic G-funk sound of eras passed. On the eve of his Madison Square Garden debut, YG stopped by to play some boiling red heaters off his upcoming record, and we quickly caught up on what he's plotting.
You're part of the reason why swapping out Cs for Bs got popular—words like "Boolin" and "Brazy." What was it like seeing that take off?
Everybody started doing it like it was something cool to do. All it did was let me know that I move the culture. That’s what it did for me. First of all, it’s catchy. Motherfuckers just want some new, different shit. Where I’m from—California, LA—that’s how niggas talk on the regular. That’s old back-in-the-day shit; it ain’t new to anybody that’s been in the streets. But for me to do it and put it on this platform, it’s bigger than some gang bang shit. It’s bigger than rap shit; it’s culture. How they using it is why it’s so big—they’re using it on some regular every day shit.
"My Nigga" was a monster hit. After a year of touring, do you give everyone in your crowd a pass to sing the hook?
When the song come on, I want you to sing that motherfucker. When you get offstage... Some of my fans, they run up to me, like, “YG, my nigga!” I’m like, "Bro, you gotta say my hitta, bro." Offstage, I be letting them know, especially with all the shit going on right now. When I hear it too much, I let them know. On stage, I can’t do anything about that. I made the record and they love it, because it’s a friendship record. Motherfuckers say that word every day.
You'll play Madison Square Garden tonight for the first time. As a native west coaster, what's your relationship been to New York?
New York is turnt. It’s really like 25 hours out here. 25/8. On God, when you come to New York, it’s like work. Every time I come out here, since I been coming, I’m doing press, in the clubs, fucking with the DJs, doing radio shit. It took a minute for them to get familiar with a nigga, but they fuck with me now. It all happened when My Krazy Life came out. I had a show in 2013, in Brooklyn at the Knitting Factory. It was only like a hundred motherfuckers in there. It was light. Next year, my album dropped, I sold the Irving Plaza out. I was like, Damn, shit crazy. We gotta do it again, though. Boom! Hit ‘em again! Still Krazy.
It's been great to hear you using a classic West Coast, P-Funk sound with different producers on your new material, like "Twist My Fingaz." What inspired that sound?
I was in Atlanta and shit to try to record out there. I was out there for a month. I was fucking with London On Da Track and everybody I knew. Before niggas even start doing anything, I’m like, “Bro, I need some West Coast shit.” I have those conversations before I work with anybody. The album is 50% done, so it could change, a nigga don’t know. The thing I do know is, that motherfucker gon’ be better than My Krazy Life. Everything about it. The promotion, the marketing, the music, the touring, the videos.
You were the victim of a shooting this summer. Has your outlook changed since it happened?
I look at it the same way as when the shit first happened. It’s the same shit. It made shit tighter. It made me fall back from motherfuckers I ain’t too sure about. After that happened, it’s like, Alright, I can’t fuck with you because I don’t know where it came from. Everybody that I was iffy with, I just don't fuck with.