Keenan " YG" Jackson had been hustling in the music industry for years, but it wasn't until signing with Island Def Jam (in 2009) that the course of his career changed. YG's single, " Toot It and Boot It," catapulted the rapper into the spotlight and earned him the No. 2 slot on the Heatseeker Songs chart.
Even with all the attention, the Compton, Calif. native hopes to ensure his longevity by taking a slower approach than expected. In lieu of dropping his debut album "Freshman on Campus," the rapper will unleash his mixtape "400 Degrees" (Spring 2012). The first single, "I'm A Thug," featuring Meek Mill, serves as an appetizer of what's to come.
YG is also dipping his feet in film, taking on a role in the Mario Van Peebles-directed film "We the Party," co-starring Snoop Dogg.
Between movies, music, violence still manages to follow YG. Being raised in a neighborhood infested with gang violence, YG --said to be associated with the Westside Tree Top Piru gang -- hasn't quite yet broken free from the lifestyle. Yesterday (Jan. 25), shots were fired while on set of "I'm a Thug." The police to shut down and closed the set. "Authorities have yet to report any fatalities, or reveal whether or not any suspects were apprehended for the shooting," Hip-Hop Wired reports.
Before gunshots rang out on the set of "I'm a Thug," YG spoke with Billboard.com's The Juice about collaborating with Snoop Dogg on his upcoming projects, and why he's not a one-hit wonder.
How did you end up linking with Meek Mill for "I'm a Thug"?
The collaboration came about [from when] I was in Philly on the Wiz Khalifa, Snoop [High School] tour. Me and Meek [were] on the freshman [XXL Magazine] cover of 2011. I already knew him, we were vibing. I came to Philly, I hit him up like "What's up?" I went to the studio, he was like "Play some of that L.A. shit." I played him this set and he dropped his verse right then and there! I was like "We gotta do the video!" He told me he's gonna be out here [in CA] for two months working on his album, so that's how that came about.
Tell me about the "400 Degrees" mixtape?
[DJ] Mustard produced half of the tape. I got Meek Mill, Nipsey Hussle featured on it. I got other features, but I ain't sure yet. They haven't turned in their versus yet!
What is the status of your debut album, "Freshman on Campus?"
Everybody asking about the album! The album's gonna come out. I'm trying to build my buzz and my fan base before I put out the album. When that happens, the album will be coming out, probably in like a year and a half. I ain't started on it, I'm just mixtaping, building my buzz, touring, all that.
Aside from music, you've stepped into the medical marijuana business by releasing your own weed line. How is that going?
Yeah, I had some weed. The YG. OG Kush. It was working out good until the [dispensary owner] man, something happened in his weed shop. You know how the police be trying to shut down weed shops in California? They shut his weed shop down, so he disappeared. So right now I ain't got no weed, I'm off deck right now, it's all good though.
What else do you have in the works?
I got a movie coming out in early April, it's called "We the Party." Mario Van Peebles directed it. I got like a main role, it's me, Snoop Dogg, the New Boyz, and whole lot more people. I'm trying to do that [more acting]. I'ma f--- with real estate too, me and my boy been chopping it up about real estate. I'm trying to get a Wingstop [restaurant] too.
Tell me about your character in the film?
My character's name is CC. I'm 20 years old, and I got a son, but I'm in high school still. I'm a rapper but don't nobody know I rap because I'm always mad at school with my hood on. Snoop plays my big borther in the movie. [In the film] Snoop [is] in and out of jail, and he be beating on me, so I be having scars on my face, [which is why] I got my hood on all the time at school. Through the movie, things happen and it shows me opening up as a person, talking to people, people find out I rap, and they find out i'm a good person at the end of the day.
Being that Snoop plays your big brother in the film and is a mentor of yours, what does his support mean to you?
Snoop's support means everything. It's not a lot of artists out here that got Snoop's support on the West Coast. Just knowing I have Snoop's support, that's like saying you're official. Snoop always looking out, he be giving a ni**a game, he be putting me on tours, in movies, all of that.
Are you working on any music together?
Yeah. We were just in the studio working on some stuff that might go on the mixtape.
Following the success of "Toot It and Boot It," do you fear people would write you off as a one-hit wonder?
That adds fuel to my fire. I was hearing that a lot. "Is YG going to be a one-hit wonder?" or "YG is a one-hit wonder." But before "Toot It and Boot It," I had hits out in the streets. I been in the streets making music doing shows before "Toot It and Boot It," so I really wasn't worried. I was just like, "Damn these motherf*ckers really think I'm a one-hit wonder." I just went hard. Me and Mustard got in the lab. We were in there for like six months going in. We started vibing out, making hits and the shit blew up. Now everybody is f*cking with us.