YG’s Politics and Paranoia
Compton MC spits 4Hundred Waze to love/hate thy neighbor
By Alejandra Ramirez,
11:15AM, Wed. Sep. 28, 2016
YG is paranoid. Shortly before the release of his sophomore full-length, Still Brazy, the Compton rapper was shot at his Los Angeles recording studio. On June’s followup to critical and commercial smash My Krazy Life, the 26-year-old rapper struggles between his multi-million dollar status and the gangster lifestyle. Emo’s hosts him tonight.
Austin Chronicle: So catch us up on what’s happened between My Krazy Life two years ago and this summer’s Still Brazy.
YG: A lot has changed, man. A great thing for me is I’m a father now. I fell out with some of my closest friends and I got shot, which made me become really, really paranoid. I fell out with DJ Mustard, so I had to figure out what was I going to do with the album as far as production. I even got much more political with this album, which was new for me, because I felt obligated to speak out about a lot of what my community and what my people were and are still going through.
AC: Why the switch to politics? That differentiates Still Brazy.
YG: Just a lot of bad shit was going on at the time. My friends and I were having a lot of conversations about police killing innocent blacks and the Donald Trump shit that’s going on. We was talking about that a lot, so I felt like, “We’re talking about this too much, so I might as well put it in a few songs.”
AC: One of the stongest political songs off the new album is “Blacks & Browns.” It talks about the close but often troubled relationships between African-Americans and Hispanics.
YG: I felt like ain’t nobody been putting out the positive side of our relationships with each other as far as black and brown relationships in the community go. You always hear about the negative stuff that goes down, which is crazy to me sometimes, because we share a lot of the same experiences as far as being minorities go and getting mistreated by the government and police brutality. It’s definitely a love/hate relationship, because if you’re in jail or prison, blacks and Mexicans don’t fuck with each other and it’s real serious.
And if you’re gangbanging, you’ll definitely hear about a lot of beef between the two, but when you walk into your own house, your next door neighbor is Hispanic and they’re cool as a motherfucker. I just felt like the situation wasn’t spoke on or talked about in a minute and I’m glad I got SadBoy Loko on it too. I even got a lot of Hispanic fans being from the West Coast.
They’re out there giving their support at all my shows, so I got to show the love back.
AC: Speaking of the West Coast, it was recently the 20th anniversary of Tupac’s death. Your song “Who Shot Me?” reminds me of Tupac’s “Hit Em’ Up.” Did he mean a lot to you?
YG: I mean yeah. Tupac’s like my coach. I’d listen to him way back and still do today. His music is buried in my system and flows through my veins, man. Being from the West Coast, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube are everything about how I approach life today.
AC: In hip-hop, mental health issues are seen as a weakness despite of all the troubling things that happen in that community. Did therapy help you?
YG: I can tell you, being from the hood, I know I’m not the only one who goes through paranoia or some other shit. A lot of people are going through it because of a lot of different reasons like violence, gangs, crime, and being poor. It’s serious, man. My people told me I should go see a therapist because I was getting on some paranoid shit and they were telling me that I should go get my stuff sorted out.
So I went, but it didn’t help me, because I only had like two sessions and with therapy you’re supposed to keep going back. I felt that even if I kept going back, my situation wasn’t going to change. Like you can’t talk me out of being paranoid. Stuff like that just can’t really go away even after talking it out with somebody.
AC: You talk about paranoia a lot right now and on the album. How has that affected you?
YG: I definitely know that I’m this way because of my lifestyle. I can say that I wasn’t always paranoid, but I was always looking over my shoulder. You kind of have to have that mentality growing up on the streets and being in gangs.
When I got popped, it took it to another level. I was really paranoid, man, and I felt like I couldn’t trust nobody anymore. It’s a real shitty feeling when you feel like you can’t even trust your friends.
I was getting into it and having arguments with my homies because I’d ask, “Who popped me, do you know?” And when they’d say “No,” I’d start tripping and they would begin to feel some type of way because I asked them that. I went through all that type of shit, and it doesn’t feel good.
AC: Despite all this, you still have a lot of love for your city, which comes out through your non-profit foundation, 4Hundred Waze. Tell me about that.
YG: It’s great and I’ve been doing that with my mama because me and her have been really trying to push it. We’ve just been giving back to the city of Compton and we’ve partnered with the mayor [Aja Brown] to offer opportunities for the kids, and it’s gone really well. A lot of these kids just need more positive experiences and we want to give that back.
We’re trying to change peoples’ lives.
Like with school coming up, we gave backpacks to the kids and we got toy giveaways coming up for Christmas, and more stuff lined up in the future. It’s really coming from the heart and I’m not getting any money in pocket. I’m not trying to get any publicity or none of that out of this, because it comes from true love for my city and my people.