Hip-Hop

Tyga Talks New Album 'Bitch I'm the S--t Vol. 2' & Past Public Relationships: 'Y'all Crucified Me... Now I'm Resurrected'

Tyga
Pamela Littky

Tyga

In 2012, Tyga -- born Michael Ray Stevenson -- had hip-hop on tilt with his club banger "Rack City." The DJ Mustard-produced smash quickly scurried into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and topped out at No. 7, earning Tyga his biggest single to date. Later that year, he returned to the top 40 with his alcohol-friendly single "Faded" with Lil Wayne, which peaked at No. 33 on the Hot 100.

After releasing his second album Careless World: Rise of the Last King in 2012, Tyga's luck and public perception quickly took a sharp left and veered into a land of disappointment. First, the rapper was embroiled in a contentious feud with Drake in 2014, after he called him out during an interview with Vibe. Then, he watched his relationships with Blac Chyna and Kylie Jenner go sour publicly, resulting in him becoming a go-to punch-line on social media. To make matters worse, he scolded his home labels Cash Money/Young Money on Twitter and opted to released his third album The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty independently.   

Despite his misfortune, Tyga has smoothly recovered. Last year, he inked a deal with Kanye West and Pusha T's label G.O.O.D. Music. Then, he segued into modeling after signing with ONE MODEL Management last April. More importantly, Tyga made his way back into the studio, and carved his new project Bitch I'm the S--t Vol. 2. The album -- set to be released Friday -- has appearances by Kanye West, Pusha T, Ty Dolla $ign, Quavo, Vince Staples, Young Thug and more. 

On Wednesday night, Billboard sat down with Tyga at Premier Studios in New York City to discuss his new project Bitch I'm the S--t Vol. 2, why the album will serve as his "resurrection," his decision to join G.O.O.D. Music and why public relationships were ultimately his downfall. 

You waited six years to release the sequel for Bitch I'm the S--t. Why? 

Tyga: Well, because the first version was something that really started my career. It was a lot of the [DJ] Mustard sound. I had a lot of party joints on there like "The Motto (Remix)" and "Make It Nasty." There were so many joints on there that my fans loved that project from me. It was a whole new wave. The tempo, the sounds and the Mustard sound.

I felt like I wanted to do a volume two as a gift to my fans, but at the same time, I wanted them to know that I'm back on my s--t. I'm going to be talking that s--t, you know what I'm saying? And I'm still gonna give you some new waves, too. It's like a new sound. It doesn't sound like a whole Mustard project. It doesn't sound like it's just all West Coast sounding [music.] It's melodic. It's everywhere. It's just a whole new wave. 

What made you decide to make that move over to G.O.O.D. Music last year to join Kanye West and Pusha T? 

I think it was more of a move kind of like where 'Ye was like, 'Yo. I can help. I just want to help whatever you're doing.' So for me, I just got out of a situation with an artist. So I didn't really wanna be on another artist's [label.] I wanna be able to have my own creative control. I definitely would like your input where you could, but I don't wanna be in the same situation as I was in before. I was cool with doing my own thing really. 

I think what 'Ye brought to the table was the "Feel Me" verse. He gave me some input on a few records like the Pusha verse [on ["Ski on the Slope."] So now it's definitely making people go like, 'Damn. So he used to rock with [Lil] Wayne. Now he's rocking with 'Ye. This guy gotta be on some s--t.'

What's the best advice you received from Kanye since you've joined G.O.O.D. Music?

From 'Ye, I see how much time he puts into records. He hears stuff in songs that the average person just doesn't hear. I kind of switched up my recording process. Like I might record something, then, I'll go back into it like a month later. I won't finish it. Before I used to finish songs that night. I'd write 'em and be done with it. Now I finish a verse, finish a hook, come back to it, change something, get inspired and change a line. I take a little bit more time with the music now.

Your new video "Move to L.A." with Ty Dolla $ign finds you paying homage to Mase's "Tell Me What You Want." What made you decide to go in that direction? 

Man, just because the game is missing a lot of that essence now. I think the late '90s and the early 2000s is like the golden era for rap, the golden era for culture. I think a lot of people don't acknowledge it now as they should be doing. That was the golden era of music. From when Ma$e was out to all the way when 50 [Cent] came out. It was just nothing but rap stars. Hits. Fun. Nobody sounded the same. Everybody had their own unique flow, unique style. The videos were glossy. 

Now, with rap being the biggest genre in music, people need that essence. Kendrick [Lamar] is doing it. I commend Kendrick for doing it and showing the meaning of videos again. For awhile, people were acting like videos weren't important. People were just shooting quick little videos and weren't really caring about the content of it. I've always been a person that was about the visuals, too. It's just the right time. I just know when the time is right to strike. I just feel like that's what the game is missing right now. People just need that essence. People need those superstars again. 

You have your son King featured on the new album. How's fatherhood been going for you?

Man, he's so smart that it's scary. He'll come into the studio sometimes and he'll see what I'm doing. Then, he'll go on with his day. He'll get on his apps. He's very smart. That s--t is crazy. 

For you, the music has always been solid, but you've been painted as someone with a bad rap. Why do you think that's the case for you? 

I think people are scared. 

What are people scared of? 

I think people know the potential. People know the potential that I can have. Like I come from and study an era where it was just all superstars and they've really done this s--t with intent. They really did it and was here to change the game. That's what I studied. That's what I practiced all day. That's what I preached. Once, I got in a lot of public relationships, it kind of overshadowed all that. For people, that was all they've seen. But now that I'm single and stuff and people see me on my own, people are excited. I could have dropped this project last year or the beginning of the year, but I just wanted to wait on the right time to strike. 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently while being in those public relationships? 

It's hard. I wish I could have kept more of my mystic and not been in the public, but it was really hard because when you're with a person that's as famous as that and super public -- that's what she's known for -- it's really kind of hard to dodge it. I can't make myself a prisoner, you know what I'm saying? I can't be a prisoner of my own fame and be in the house all day. I still gotta enjoy life. So there was really no way around it. It was really just a stepping stone and a learning lesson for me.

So this project was pretty much a liberation for you? 

Yeah. This project was my resurrection. You guys praised me when I dropped "Rack City." I had multiple hits. Y'all praised me. Y'all believe in me. Y'all followed me. Then, I got in a relationship, and y'all crucified me. Put me on the cross. Now I'm resurrected. 

Describe your evolution from your debut album Careless World in 2012 to where you're at today. 

Careless World was like my first project and it took me a long time to do that album. I put a lot of emotion into it. And I didn't really know exactly what people wanted 'cause I didn't have any success prior to that of my own. So when I had success after that, I was like 'OK. People like this type of music from me.' And I kind of got stuck in that instead of worrying about what I wanted people to feel. I got caught up in the quick success of it. Now I just really had time to sit back. I want people to feel this. I don't have a time limit. I'm not chasing anything. I don't have a number one song out right now. Now I can just take time to drop the projects accordingly. 

Lil Wayne was once your boss and you went through a similar situation at Cash Money/Young Money like he's currently going through. What advice would you give him?

With Wayne, he definitely put me on and taught me a lot. If anything, I would just stay inspired and feel the fans 'cause he has the fans. He got the bars. Wayne is like an original rap superstar.  Even with this generation of new artists getting big, for Wayne not to have crazy hits out right now is crazy because he's like the original rap star of my generation. With the new generation, we all look up to him. Hopefully, it gets worked out and they figure something out because at the end of the day we just want the music. Regardless of how it comes out, just give us the s--t. 

Give us one word to describe your new project Bitch I'm the S--t Vol. 2. 

It's like Easter Sunday. It's a resurrection. 

Why resurrection?

Like I said, they praised me. They crucified me. I kept telling people in the beginning, this is who I am. Bitch I'm the s--t. I'm the s--t. I'm gonna tell you again. I'm gonna give y'all the stuff. I'm gonna give y'all the hits. I'm gonna give y'all the music, that emotion and that feeling. I'm gonna entertain y'all. They stopped believing in me for a little bit and now it's like we're about to see the resurrection. 

That's how the game goes. 

The game has always been like that, and it's good to feel like that. It's good to kind of be the underdog. Now you got people rooting [for you]. I'm excited about it. 

If you can give me your NBA comparison, who would you choose and why? 

[Allen] Iverson. 

Why Iverson? 

Because he's the first of his kind. He had a lot against him, but he was still so great. He still made an impact on culture. They're just gonna have to give me my rings. You know what I'm saying? When I watched his documentary, it really touched me. He was just him. He dealt with it all and he's still standing. He's still unbroken.