By Andy Downing
RedEye special contributor
8:10 PM CDT, May 1, 2014
YG's major-label debut “My Krazy Life” unfolds like an early film by John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood”), tracing a day in the life of the West Coast rapper as he crashes parties, fights with his girlfriend, burglarizes homes, gets jailed for his crimes, and, ultimately, apologizes to his mom for his misdeeds on the heartfelt “Sorry Momma.”
The album, which arrives awash in bouncing, ratchet beats courtesy of DJ Mustard, is far from some Hollywood production, however. In a mid-April phone interview, the 24-year-old rapper repeatedly insisted, “All them stories are real.”
“If the [listener] knows your story,” continued YG, born Keenon Jackson in Compton, California, “then they feel like they know you.”
Is your life crazier now than it was during the years that inspired the songs on the album?
My life is crazier since I dropped the album. Last year ... it wasn’t looking too good for me. You feel me? Things started happening, and now we’re doing the [bleep] we were hoping to do. [Bleep] is crazy.
How closely does the content of the record mirror your own life?
It is my life, bro. All the stories I’m telling are real stories that happened years ago, or some [bleep] I just went through. A majority of the rappers I admire, they talking about they life and situations and how they went about things. If you on some real artist [bleep] and you want that respect, you gotta let the people know your story.
Are there any Chicago rappers who have caught your ear recently with their ability to tell their own stories?
Yeah, I [bleep] with Lil Durk and Lil Reese. I like they [bleep] because they from the streets and they just talk about they culture. It’s [bleep] people know about and [bleep] people can relate to.
Did Kendrick’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” have any influence on how you approached “My Krazy Life”?
“Doggystyle,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin',” “Ready to Die,” “The Chronic 2001” — I was listening to those albums. I mean, what [Kendrick] did and what I did is what the old homies Snoop and Dre and everybody did back in the day: We made real albums. I think because of that everyone is comparing our albums ... [but] the whole structure and thought process of [“My Krazy Life”] came from those classics. I feel like if you put out an album, you’re supposed to be telling a story. It’s like a movie. If it ain’t like that, then it’s not a classic. It’s just a bunch of songs stuck together.
Every new review seems to mention your growth as a rapper. Is that something you hear when you listen to the record? Or do you feel you’ve always had that skill set and it’s just been overlooked?
Damn, bro. I feel like I was rapping way better on my album than on my mixtapes. I was taking my time with records and verses, and I was really talking about real stories people could relate to. I think people [bleep] with it because of that. With the mixtapes, I’d just start rapping and I’d record it. I took the album a whole other way.
You mention your absentee father a couple times throughout the album. How do you think that experience shaped the man you are today?
When I was like [age] 16 through 19 or something like that, my pops did three years in prison, and when he did that time was when I really stepped out and was in the streets and I started gang-banging and raiding houses — all the [bleep] I’m talking about on the album. That all started when my pops went to jail.
Have you played “Sorry Momma” for your mom yet?
She heard it when the album came out. She told me she can’t listen to the whole song because she cried too much.
You go into careful detail on how to burglarize a home on “Meet the Flockers.” When you were breaking into houses did you ever have a “Home Alone”-like situation where some stranded kid got the best of you?
[Laughs] Naw, I ain’t never had one of them situations.
What would your advice have been for Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in that film?
Man, they was kind of like dumb, right? They didn’t have it all together in the head, so they shouldn’t have been doing what they was trying to do anyways. That wasn’t their thing. They seemed like a couple college dropouts. They should have just stayed at home. I guess that’s my advice to them.
YG, 8 p.m. Wed. at Metro. $23-$75.
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