Post Malone and Dre London’s signee Tyla Yaweh shares his latest song “She Bad,” a cut off his upcoming debut EP F the Rules, exclusively on Billboard today (Oct. 26).
Years ago, Yaweh took a job working at a Dunkin’ Donuts near his house in Florida, where he worked “half shifts” every morning to create a barrier between where his mother thought his money was coming from, and the truth. After eventually getting kicked out of his house for selling drugs, Yaweh was on his own. He dropped his life in Florida and packed a car with three friends and all of his belongings to drive out to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of being a rapper. Yaweh’s charisma eventually caught the attention of Post Malone and Dre London, and he later on went on to sign to their label, London Entertainment.
Now, the Orlando rapper finds himself rocking huge crowds at festivals like SXSW, Rolling Loud, and Made In America, performing his hits such as “Gemini” and “Wildlife,” which have helped him garner over 5 million total streams Spotify. The comment section from his latest video, “Goals,” is peppered with endearing words from his newest fans in Sweden, where he recently delivered a performance so energetic, the crowd couldn’t help but immediately hop on his support train.
This infectious energy is a key reason Yaweh was able to win over so many people during his journey. “He’s always had that energy,” confirms Tes Siyoum, one of his managers at London Ent. “It matches Post Malone’s in such a way that he could walk into any room and people gravitate towards him and he gets people’s attention. People just genuinely want to hang around him and get to know him.”
Tyla Yaweh recently stopped by Billboard to discuss living with Birdman, his struggle period in L.A., his upcoming debut project, and more. Get a first listen of “She Bad” below, and check out the rest of our conversation after the jump.
“She Bad” appears on your upcoming debut project. How are you feeling about that?
It’s called Fuck the Rules, but we’re calling it F the Rules for marketing purposes. It’s about not staying in a box and not obeying the music rules that say: “You have to stay in one lane. You can’t do every genre and still be cohesive.” Some artists do a bunch of genres all over the place, but it’s such a consistent sound. You can do this and this, but it still sounds like me. That’s why I said “fuck the rules.” There’s no rules in it. I got it tatted on my neck, too.
It’s my debut EP. It’ll be like nine records. I feel like it’s going to be like how Nicki and Drake got rich off a mixtape. It’s about 90 percent done and it’ll be out at the top of next year.
I heard you’re cookin’ with Ty Dolla $ign, too. Will he be on the project?
We first vibed out at Coachella. We both have the same inspirations in music in stuff, like rock stuff, too. He’s real down to earth and he listens to newer artists as well. He’s always looking for new stuff to listen to. He’s always showing support. Instantly he was like, “Let’s cook up.” We’re just trying to find the right records to get him on. We talk a lot, though.
Word on the street is you’re a really great performer. Have you had to develop that skill over time, or is being on that stage natural for you?
I’ve been performing my whole life pretty much, especially since the age of 14, so I got so used to performing on the stage. I feel like I’m watching myself on stage through other people, so I try to give them an experience that they can touch me and actually be there with me. We have Posty Fest in Dallas coming up and then I’m going on a 30 city tour with Yung Pinch. It’s a lot of fun.
I feel like I was born for it. I don’t ever even get nervous — it’s crazy. I just see so much energy out there and want to just hop in it. As long as the people are movin’, I’m good. I used to perform in front of my family, school show-and-tell, all of that. I was always used to it and I used to dance a lot, too. I used to start these functions in the mall. It was so natural for me. I used to watch my sister perform a lot because she was in a girl band and that made me be like, “Yo, I want to perform, too.”
So, I know I’m not going to be the first one to say this.
Aw shit, I already know what you’re going to say.
That I look like Wiz Khalifa. I sound like Swae Lee. [laughs]
I’m curious to know if all these comparisons ever start to bother you.
I just take it and it’s okay. I mean, I just understand everybody gets compared when they first come in the game. I definitely do see the resemblance to Wiz sometimes. Sometimes people say I sound like him and I talk like him. You could compare me to someone who’s a great, too, so that’s cool.
What was it like living with Birdman?
We were in the studio every night. We worked all the time. He gave me some pointers in life. A lot of times he would fall asleep in sessions. We’d be at the crib and we’d be going through records and he’d just be sleep, but then he’ll give you the best advice ever.
What advice did Birdman give you?
It was basically all the stuff he had to go through to get to where he is now. I’ve seen this advice come through in other interviews I’ve seen, with Big Sean for example. He told me to make music for the women. He told me, “You could tell you were raised right by your mom. You’ve had a good upbringing. Keep that energy you have for the women.” I do have a lot of songs for women because I keep that advice in my head. We made two records: “Monroe” and “Yves Saint Laurent.” He made us shoot the video at his crib and I still have that video.
You’re from Florida, so you pretty much had to drop everything and move out to Los Angeles to pursue this. Did you pay your dues with your “sleeping in the studio at night” days?
I was sleeping on the street!
What really kept you from tapping out and giving up during that time?
It was just cool to me that I just dropped everything and came. I had a bunch of stuff in Florida. I had two cribs and I was doing my thing. But I was like, “I can’t do this. I’m going to L.A.” We drove to L.A. and I didn’t even fly because I wanted to bring my stuff and clothes. It took a day and a half because it was four of us taking turns. I came to L.A., stayed in an Airbnb for a month and half, I had nowhere to go. I linked up with my homie Eli who got me paying attention to people’s intentions and stuff, and he got me in the studio with Sonny Digital.
From then on, I was just like, “Yo, this shit is fun.” Sometimes Eli let me sleep in his car or his crib. When I couldn’t sleep in his crib, I’d just go sleep out in Melrose, Fairfax or Venice. I’d go to the DGK store and take a nap upstairs because Eli had an office there. I did that for like three months until I found a place and a way to get money.
Would you got through the struggle period because the grind was fun for you?
It was. It was fun to me because it really taught me not to give up on anything. I just don’t have that spirit in me that wants to give up. I will always be grateful for things now because I went through that situation. I never thought about giving up, and it just made me more hungry. I hear so many other stories of people coming to L.A. and doing the same thing. Jim Carrey, for example. He had a million dollar check in his pocket and he used to sleep on Rodeo. I think about things like that.
I saw in a clip that said you made your most recent video “Goals” in 10 minutes, and now it’s your latest hit. What was it like on set for that?
It was actually less than [10 minutes]. It was a freestyle, basically. I had an Uber waiting outside [laughs]. I walked in, did my shit, and left. You could ask anyone.
It was a long day, but it was dope. I had my brothers pull up. Post Malone pulled up. It was a cool day. We even had the owner of the crib in the video — he’s the random white guy. Everyone’s like, “Who is this random white guy? How’d you even find him?” [laughs]. He’s actually the owner of the crib and he had this attitude that we liked. We were like, “Yo, let’s use you.” And it’s always good if you have the owner on your side and then it gave us more time to shoot the video after that. I was changing all day and I like wearing different outfits and stuff. The outfits were my favorite part of it.
I could tell your sense of style is important to you. Do you have a stylist or are you in charge of all your fits?
I have someone. Her name is Kathy and she does Post Malone’s stuff, too. I give her ideas on what I’d like to wear, and I actually take a lot of inspiration from Ramones, Sex Pistols, Michael Jackson, and Prince. I send her ideas and she finds things and I choose.
Finally, you speak a lot about being on your own since you were 15. This music biz is crazy, so who has been your rock to keep you going through it all?
I had a lot of OGs around me, a lot of older people in Florida. Those people are the ones who taught me how to survive in the streets. I was always around older folks my whole life and so I learned to just listen to everybody and keep that advice in my head. Age is just a number and we can vibe at any age. I made it happen. I was paying my own bills and I had my own apartment. I just did it myself. I got kicked out because I had drugs in the house.
Back then, they didn’t really get it. I had a small fan base but that money wasn’t coming in. I had a bunch of drug money but they knew it wasn’t music money so they were like, “Where the hell is this money coming from?” I got a fake job at Dunkin’ Donuts. I worked the morning shift there for like four hours, a half shift. I had the best time because I used to go high as fuck and I also worked in a rich area so I used to get big tips. I was doing it basically to be like, “This is where my money is coming from, mom.”
Sometimes I’d wake up early as hell and my friends would pick me up and I’m not even going to work. They think I’m going to work but I’m actually going to go trap. My mom found my shit. My step dad wasn’t stupid though, since he used to sell drugs. He knew everything I was doing because he did the same thing as a kid.
Now, they’re super supportive. Everybody comes up to her and stuff. She bought the magazine cover I’m on and she’s bragging about it to everyone. They listen to all my music, even the crazy music. My mom is singing in the crowd, “I take drugs to ease my pain.” It’s crazy because I’m talking about drugs and a time in my life back then, and now she’s singing it.