When a classmate threw a dis toward Keenon Jackson, it became a game of wits from which Jackson, aka “YG,” built a career.
His lyrical responses caught on at Paramount High School in Paramount, CA, and later spread to Myspace. While getting requests for parties, he formed Pu$haz Ink, making the music official.
“People at school were singing my songs and my homies were coming out to support,” says YG. “I decided we needed a name and we needed to be known by that.”
Constant, effective self-promotion ensued. YG recalls burning mixtapes and hitting the streets to pass out CDs. Shows were now a vital link to new fans and the combination proved instrumental in connecting YG to Def Jam. Label reps would later observe an entire club, in Hollywood, singing along as YG performed.
“That’s how I got my buzz. I was really out there on my independent grind.”
“That’s how I got my buzz,” says YG. “I was really out there on my independent grind.” When YG found himself in New York, with Def Jam, it was surreal. “I grew up hearing about Def Jam,” says YG. “I was going into the music industry and knew nothing about it but I knew about Def Jam Records.” YG identifies avidly as a West Coast artist but examines the uniqueness in being on an East Coast label: “Everybody there understands and if I can get an East Coast label to know what I am doing, then maybe I can get the whole world to understand.”
My Krazy Life, appearing on March 18, is a reflection of YG and he is deeply proud of it. “I know a lot of people will be able to relate because we are all living a crazy life,” he says. “I finally have this debut album coming out and I already have a platinum single from it.”
YG invests in music and touring, but also film and his clothing line. For the California native, it’s a total package, rather than one element.
“I want people to respect me as an artist and not a one hit wonder,” he says. “I put my heart in all I do.”
– Carl Anthony