YG. His name is synonymous with rap, fashion, and Los Angeles. Hailing from the streets of Compton, YG’s music emerged as a raw reflection of his real life and earned him a reputation as a key player in the West Coast music scene. With his distinctive voice, a knack for storytelling, and unwavering commitment to keeping it real, YG has carved a unique niche for himself in the industry.
YG signed with Def Jam Recordings in 2009, eventually breaking into the scene with his 2010 hit “Toot It and Boot It,” a generational-defining track that quickly gained him recognition along with his debut mixtapes and collaborations with other artists. However, it was his 2014 studio album, My Krazy Life that catapulted him to mainstream success and ushered in a new generation of West Coast gangster rappers with YG being the shepherd of the flock. The album’s hit singles, including “Left, Right,” and “Who Do You Love?” showcased his ability to craft infectious hooks while maintaining an unapologetically gritty approach to the game.
YG’s next album, Blame It On The Streets, served as the soundtrack for a short film he co-wrote that followed his exploits in the streets pre-fame. His dedication to bringing the reality that he and so many others experienced to the forefront of the culture is admirable—and his execution is flawless. With a highly anticipated, yet under-wraps collaborative album coming this fall with Tyga, the rap world waits anxiously with sneak peeks like “PLATINUM” and “West Coast Weekend.” YG’s collaborations with Tyga always lead to bangers, so we’re eagerly awaiting the album.
Beyond his musical reputation, YG is known for being a fashion powerhouse. He’s built up an apparel and sneaker line to add to the empire that is his 4HUNNID brand. This reinvention extends to a powerfully meaningful part of YG’s celebrity social justice. Calling out racial injustices with his 2016 song “Police Get Away Wit Murder,” YG has repeatedly used his platform to address issues that impact his community. Earlier that year, “FDT” was released, an anthem calling out former President Donald Trump that has played in election cycles ever since. In 2020, YG worked with Black Lives Matter to coordinate one of the largest protests in the city’s history, and used the opportunity as a chance to film the music video for “FTP.”
As he continues to push the boundaries of hip-hop, YG remains an essential force in the evolution of the genre, making a lasting impact on the industry and the world at large. FLAUNT sat down with YG to talk to him about new music, fashion, and the internet.
When it comes to the new music specifically, how do you go about constructing a song? Where do you start? With a beat, an idea, a rhythm, a line?
It depends on the day or the session, but I have started every way you kan think of it, always different with each producer. But I will have a song concept written down already & begin like that, or I’ll have a hook written already or just a verse or nothing at all & freestyle. When you have been rapping for as long as I have, you probably tried all the ways you think of to construct a song.
Your last album, I Got Issues, contained a lot of reflections on your personal life and career trajectory. Can we expect to see the same kind of themes on this forthcoming project?
Yea, I will always talk about what’s currently going on in my life and career but with my next solo album, ima. Also, get ting back to having fun; that’s what my people want from me.
You and longtime collaborator Tyga always seem to drop summer bangers at the most perfect time. What kind of mood do you want the rest of the album to put listeners in? We are just two homies having fun with this shit, so we want the listeners to do the same. Enjoy turning up, get litty.
How do you go about expanding your sound without repeating yourself? It’s a balancing act for any artist. I’m wondering how you grapple with it.
I lean on the producers I work with to grow naturally; as they grow as people, the music they create will grow, but then again, as needed, I will have musicians come in and add layers, change sounds, or move things around with no problem.
You’ve spent a long time in the music and fashion industries. How do both worlds intersect for you?
They intersect kuz when you rap, but the lifestyle of money and fame that looks a certain way. It looks like high fashion and fancy cars and fancy shit. So that’s what most musicians/ rappers are on, especially nowadays.
Because you’ve been around for so long, you would have a great perspective on how music is constantly changing. Do you think the internet has changed rap? For better or worse?
The internet has changed the rap game for the better 4sure. You have to know how to work it and keep up with the changes kuz shit is changing fast.
Where do you go from here? What can we expect next?
Keep climbing to the top, building on what I started. My 4HUNNID brand, touring, music, and TV & Film.
Photographed by Ian Morrison
Written by Liam Kozak
Styled by Mui-Hai Chu
Grooming: Annette Chaisson
Flaunt Film: Aaron Sinclair
Flaunt Film Music: Cowboy Lansky
Digital Tech: Michael Seeley
Lighting Tech and Assistant: Justin Seeley
Production Assistant: Chloe Cussen