The Young Gangsta lays down some real talk, from first loves to second chances
As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series.
Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson – better known as YG, lesser known as Young Gangsta – has had a krazy year. After his debut singles “My Hitta” (yes, that's the clean version) and “Left Right” rounded off last year to the sounds of danceable hip hop, his album My Krazy Life was released in March to widespread acclaim. Pop-inflected but still bottom heavy, YG’s signature style is the unabashed street rap success the scene’s been waiting for. Born and bred on the streets of Compton, YG’s the first west coast act to be added to the Def Jam roster since Warren G in 1994. And, just like the big dollar record labels, his heavy noise is forcing everybody else to listen up. Embarking on a European tour this month, YG is gracing stages globally with no signs of slowing down. What is more, as we discussed with the 24 year old, it’s all a long way from his past life experiences – fresh from his BET award nomination for “My Hitta”, we talked LA high school gangs, prison sentences and second chances with the hip hop upstart.
Which living American do you most admire and why?
YG: Michael Jordan.
Which living American do you most despise and why?
YG: George Bush. He fucked up the United States. He had us over there in the war and shit. For gas...all that kind of shit. You know how that is, they crippled us.
Whose face should be on the $100 bill?
YG: Damn. Obama. First black president!
What three words define the States today?
YG: Liberty, freedom and justice!
Who gave you your first break? Do you still talk?
YG: Who gave me a chance? Probably Max Gousse (Epic Records) who got me my first little deal. He made my first real opportunity so I could make a difference and a life.
When + where you the most happiest?
YG: Well I had this case where I was going to be two years in prison. And I ended up doing six months in the county. Three months later I got signed to my record deal, so that was probably the happiest moment of my life. I was supposed to go to jail for two years, so I probably wouldn't have been able to get my record deal if I'd got two years. So that was a big moment in my life.
Ultimate American film?
What high school clique were you in? Do you stay in touch?
YG: I was in the Hollywood clique.
What smell do you associate with the city of your birth?
YG: What smell? I grew up in California, in L.A, so I don’t know. When I go to the south, another state, it smells different. To me it smells more fresh out there.
What's the best road trip you've ever been on?
YG: Probably a trip to Vegas.
What food reminds you of home?
YG: Chicken wings.
Where did you first fall in love?
YG: I was 18. Shit I was in the house! I wasn't doing too much. I was 18, I was in the streets, I was thuggin'. Before I got my deal and all that.
What would make you leave America forever?
YG: I don't think I could leave America forever.
If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you do the day after?
YG: I'd probably be robbing somebody or something. Taking somebody's shit.
Does the American Dream still exist?
YG: We've got all the fucking money in the world! Big-ass house in Beverly Hills, overlooking everything! Family good…everybody good. African-American king, you could have 10 wives. And have all the guns! All the motherfucking stuff. That's the American Dream!