DJ Mustard’s a busy man. Not only did he recently announce his new project Cold Summer, but he also recently revealed that 400 Summers — a joint effort with his frequent collaborator and longtime pal, YG — would be dropping “soon.” If that’s not enough, the South Central producer (real name Dijon McFarlane) found time to throw a block party behind downtown Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel on Saturday (Sept. 10) in conjunction with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and their “Neighborhood Flavor” campaign.
Before taking the stage for an hour-long set at the outdoor event, DJ Mustard sat down with Billboard to discuss Cold Summer (due this month) and 400 Summers, a ‘tape that features a reconciliation with YG (they beefed over two years ago when Mustard claimed he wasn’t compensated for his contributions to the Compton rapper’s 2014 effort My Krazy Life). Mustard’s full of those surprises, though, as he also teased that he has been working with the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Ty Dolla $ign and other “big names.”
You just announced Cold Summer. What can fans expect from the project?
It’s just a party, back to the original Mustard. It’s not so commercial. Me and YG are on there. Young Thug, Quavo from the Migos. It’s weird features. Not weird, but I usually stay in the camp and this is more out the box [and] all over the place.
This month — ….. COLD SUMMER … pic.twitter.com/PiX9GOiI4U
— Dj mustard (@DJmustard) September 2, 2016
How did those out-of-the-box collaborations come about?
They all came about while I wasn’t working on a project. I was just working on songs all summer and before the summer. I was trying to drop a project at the beginning of the summer but I just didn’t feel like I was ready and then I went on tour with Rihanna. While I was on tour, I started seeing my followers go up. I was about to hit one million [followers]. People kept [direct messaging] me: “Why you not dropping a mixtape this summer?” Finally, I was like, “Why not just drop a project? I got enough songs. I’m not just gonna sit on the music.” Then I just figured one day that I could put it all together and make it work.
“Don’t Hurt Me” was the first single from the project. How did that one in particular come together?
I heard that Nicki had liked the song and I’d been working with her on some other stuff for her stuff…
Her upcoming project?
Yeah. I don’t know when it’s coming out or what’s going to be on it but we was working on some stuff for us together and I was like, “Will you do this for me?” I wanted to do just singles all summer. She was like, “Yeah.” Then we just went back and forth about what she liked, what I liked and one day, I just went to the studio and sat down and she was like, “I like it. Let’s put it out.” That was when the [NBA] Finals [were going on] with LeBron [James] and [Stephen] Curry. With the bars she said, she was like, “Man, we need to put this out right now.” I ended up getting my label to put it out the next day.
You also have the 400 Summers project lined up. How did the reconciliation with YG turn into a project?
We’re just older now and we’re boys, we’re brothers, so it’s not like we wasn’t ever gonna be friends again. We were just going through some bulls–t. We ended up sitting down and talking for like two hours straight, talking about what we wanted to do. At that moment, when I brought him out at Coachella, we didn’t work on any music. We was like, ‘We ain’t gonna work until it’s the right time. Let’s just get back to being homies and letting the families get around each other again. Then we’ll start working.’ Then one day, we were like, ‘Man, we should just drop the 400 Summers ‘tape.’ We were like, ‘F–k it’ and then we just put the picture up and everybody went crazy.
Had you already worked on material for the ‘tape by then or was it still in the early stages?
I think we had one song done when we did that. [Now] we’re just doing songs. We’re not even putting a number to them. Just a lot of ideas, songs, beats, other producers coming in, collab-ing, and making a new sound that’s turnt but it’s still Mustard and YG at the same time. It’s not really how much we got done. We don’t even know. We’re just working.
What can fans expect from what you two have worked on?
It’s not so much the politically correct YG. It’s more the ghetto, ratchet Mustard, the ghetto, ratchet YG, going back to what we was doing before, just doing music and having fun with it. That’s what you guys can expect. There’s nothing to overthink. It’s just music to have fun.
Is there a release date?
No, but it’s soon.
You’re doing this Neighborhood Flavor block party in L.A. What does it mean for you to host an event like this?
It’s always good to touch the people because I don’t really DJ in L.A. like that. I don’t really get to as much because I’m always gone, doing festivals, but it’s cool to have people come out and have fun, drink, and get to see me DJ and have a party. I don’t want it to be a show tonight. I just want it to be a fun vibe [with] everybody partying.
What do you think about L.A.’s place in rap right now?
We’ve got YG, Kendrick Lamar, Ty [Dolla $ign], me, Nipsey [Hussle], Dom [Kennedy], RJ — there’s a list of people who are doing their thing right now so it’s really about just staying at it and sticking together, not separating and us f–king up our own thing. That would be the worst because the South sticks together in some ways. Once we figure that out and keep that going, we’ll be alright but I think we’re doing a lot of good for hip-hop right now.
Do you think your project contributes to that kind of unity?
My project is just some hood s–t. It’s just ghetto, back to the basics, just giving people a taste of what me and YG have been working on, what me and Nipsey have been working on, what me and RJ have been working on. It’s a taste of that type of stuff so it’s going to give a lot for the culture. I’m not looking to get rich off of this project. I’m not looking to sell a million records or whatever. If we do, we do. If we don’t, we don’t. It’s just for the streets and for people to get back to the old sound of Mustard.
Earlier you said you’ve been working with Nicki for her project. What can you tell us about other future collaborations?
There are some big names. I just can’t say them because I signed nondisclosure [agreements] and you gotta keep that tight, but there’s a lot of big names. I’m definitely gonna [get back to] working with Rihanna. I’m trying to work with everybody. I’m not limiting myself to anybody. I don’t give a fuck who it is, whatever genre. I’m trying to do whatever I can do to go to the next level. But for the most part, it’s just me, YG, and Ty [Dolla $ign]. Me and Ty are working on more stuff too.
For his upcoming project Campaign?
I’m definitely on Campaign. I don’t think nobody knew that. We’re just working. He’s gonna start working on something else, so we’re just gonna keep working.
You mentioned Rihanna. Why do you think your chemistry with her works so well?
I think it’s cool and I think we just let each other do us. The music is just there. It’s good music and I just got a chance to be on tour with her the whole summer so we got to know each other way more. I went to the VMAs and did her after-party so it’s just cool. We’re just vibing and making good music.