Tyga: Just Here To Be Me

By Tiffany Thompson  |  06/09/2008

TygaIn an erratic business, also known as the music industry, and during a time when fads blow away with the wind, it's hard for newcomers to build and establish roots in the game. Anyone expecting to maintain a prolonged existence requires a good foundation -- it's vital to ensuring one's longevity. An artist's biggest fear is to become a one hit wonder, or to have the sophomore album curse befall them. As easy as it is now to publish your music, a lot of one hit wonders are coming out and polluting an already fragile industry. Like a breath of fresh air, enter Tyga.

Although he's young in age, Tyga's lyrical skills are that of an industry vet. Affiliated with the self-declared "Greatest Rapper Alive" (Lil Wayne), Tyga is learning from the finest hip-hop has to offer, all the while building up a strong foundation.

With what started as an innocent joke, "Coconut Juice" has morphed into a fresh new sound that has people's ears begging for more. And the industry is quickly beginning to take notice with everyone from MTV and Vibe, to Aol.com and others, giving this kid love.

With a resume under his belt rivaling that of a seasoned veteran, and an eclectic mix of artists -- from Pete Wentz, the Gym Class Heros, and Lil Wayne -- influencing and guiding his carrer, Tyga is poised for greatness. And his time is coming fast ... his debut album, No Introduction, is already slated to drop on June 10.

Fresh out of a Miami studio session with Wayne, Ballerstatus.com was able to talk to Tyga about his fast moving career.

Ballerstatus.com: So tell me, how did everything get stared with you and Gym Class Heroes?

Tyga: Basically, I gave Travis my CD when we was in L.A. like three years ago, or two and a half years ago. He said I have a lot of potential, and he brought me out on tour to open up. I was doing acts for him; I was doing that for about a year ... and then my music got in the hands of Pete [Wentz] from Fall Out Boy. From there, I met him, and after that it was Kurt -- he signed me and he made it happen. It was Trav getting my CD to him, and Trav getting my CD to Pete.

Ballerstatus.com: So everything kind of fell into place?

Tyga: Snowball effect, definitely.

Ballerstatus.com: What was it like growing up in Compton for you?

Tyga: I mean same as growing up in any hood or ghetto in America. I'm sure you have the good the bad. Me, I was always to myself. I never really let the stuff that was going on around me get to me. I always felt like I was a leader not a follower. If people would get in trouble, I would get in trouble by myself, rather than getting with everybody else. I think that's one of the reasons [how] music has helped me become so successful and not wanting to be in that category with everybody else. So I think that music has definitely helped. I think music has helped me hop out the box and kept me away from a lot of the trouble that was going on in Compton.

Ballerstatus.com: Compared to rappers who are up-and-coming and the rappers that are currently out, young rappers like Soulja Boy and some of the other ones, how do you feel that your music is different?

Tyga: I feel that my music is ... well, one, my music is different 'cause we're different people. I think that music is self expression, so I think that's why Soulja Boy's music is so different. That's how he expresses his self. He makes music that's different from mine 'cause it's self expression and we're not the same people. Like, me, I wouldn't say I'm emotional, I just go wherever the music takes me. A lot of people don't do that no more. [They do] stuff by the book: verse, hook. I do whatever I feel like.

Ballerstatus.com: People have been saying that hip-hop is dead for a while now. Do you believe that?

Tyga: No, I don't. I mean, if anything the industry is making it harder for people to come out. Records, people don't really sell a lot of records anymore unless you have the number one cut, or unless you have a number one hit, so it's definitely hard for new artist. I don't think that hip-hop is dead or nothing like that. I love hip-hop. I think people say that because people miss that old feeling that they used to have back in the day when everybody was going platinum and everybody was coming out and putting out every kind of song. Now it's like, you gotta have that club song, you gotta have so many rules and so many stuff you have that you have to go through now. And it's getting harder for somebody to be themselves.

Ballerstatus.com: What's it been like for you working with Lil Wayne, who is an industry vet right now? You have so much going on, what's it been like for you working with him so tight?

Tyga: Definitely a lot of motivation. A lot of not going to bed 'til like eight in the morning (laughs). Like this is like a lot of freedom. Wayne is at a level where he is very successful, so it's like you want to be at that level one day, so it's like a lot of motivation. And at the same time, you see that once you do make it, you see that partying and all that other stuff, [Wayne is] still recording like he ain't made it. I defintely look at that and take that like "Man, you know, this is what I'm going to be doing forever."

Ballerstatus.com: What has the response from the public and your hometown been like towards "Coconut Juice?"

Tyga: People been calling me like left and right like, "Oh, I love the video! I love the video!" I haven't been home for almost two months 'cause I've been on this tour, so I'll be home next week. We gonna see when I walk through the mall and go back home. (Laughs) I'm looking forward to it.

Ballerstatus.com: Well, let me tell you, it's been crazy, just going on the internet and searching your name. It's crazy the amount of feedback that I've seen. So how did the whole "Coconut Juice" concept come about?

Tyga: Well, um being me, I don't drink or smoke. I choose not to, so I'll be in the club sometime with a cup of, whatever, that wasn't alcoholic. I could be drinking water, cranberry juice, whatever. And then somebody came up to me one day at a party and was like, "What are you drinking?" I was just being funny, I wasn't being serious at all, and then I said, "Coconut juice," just to see their response 'cause it just sounded funny. Like I didn't know what that was, but it sounded funny and I said it, and I think they thought I was serious and actually went to the bar, or whatever, to who was serving drinks and was like, "Do you guys have coconut juice?" I just thought that was the funniest thing to me. So I got in the studio and made a song about it. I wasn't serious when I was making the song, but it came out to be a great summer jam. So, it's crazy how the song came about. It's like, I didn't take it serious at first and now people are buzzing all over the world.

Ballerstatus.com: I find it interesting that even though you don't drink or smoke, you have so many tattoos. Can you tell me about them?

Tyga: Yeah, I have like over thirty tattoos. I started when I was like 14, half of my body is already covered.

Ballerstatus.com: Wow.

Tyga: I still got the other half to go.

Ballerstatus.com: Do they represent or mean anything?

Tyga: I have "God's Gift" in my neck. [Then I have] certain affiliations, like a "Young Money" tattoo, Gym Class logo. I got the John 3:16. Definitely all my tattoos have a solid meaning. Or better yet, they remind me of a memory. Like, when I got this tattoo was what I going through or where I was at in my life.

Ballerstatus.com: You performed at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, what was that moment like for you?

Tyga: That was definitely like one of my highlights, [I was] like, "I made it, I'm here!" I really felt like everything I was doing was starting to pay off. And basically, everything I've done in the past was irrelevant 'cause now I'm doing it for people that are ... really going to see me. I couldn't believe that. Actually, nobody told me. I didn't know that I was supposed to perform. Kanye was actually supposed to perform my rap and he couldn't do it 'cause he had a lot of stuff going on. Like fifteen minutes before they aired, they was like "Tyga, do you want to perform your verse?" I was like, "Yeah, I want to be on TV." The plan was actually to show Lil Wayne's verse on TV and then they showed his verse and then like half of my verse. I was like "Damn." I was really blessed to have that moment up there next to Weezy. That was the first time I ever met him, so that was a real big look for me.

Ballerstatus.com: You are really close with people like Pete Wentz of Fall out Boy, the Gym Class Heroes and Lil Wayne, which is such a broad spectrum of artists, do you think that they influence your music?

Tyga: I think that they have a little influence because being that I see where they're at ... there's definitely a lot of teaching going on. I sit back and I take notes and watch what they do and what they do right and just make sure that everything I do is right. Being that they're good and they've made their mark.

Ballerstatus.com: Right now, what kind of music are you listening to on your iPod?

Tyga: I've been listening to a lot. Just listening to what I can change and get better at. Of course Lil Wayne, I'm bumping Gym Class' new record, a lot of old Nas and a lot of old Eminem. I get a lot of influence from hip-hop.

Ballerstatus.com: What other projects are you working on besides your album?

Tyga: We dropped a new mixtape. I got a couple thousand downloads on Myspace. I appreciate that. Right now we're working on a Young Money album complication that's going to come out sometime in the fall.

Ballerstatus.com: So what can we expect on the album?

Tyga: Definitely just a lot of different variety. Just a lot of different concepts, a lot of great songs. It's like my album is like a variety pack of chips that you used to have when you was younger. I feel like that's what my album is, a taste of everything. There's not just one certain thing. A lot of people are going to hear it and be like, "Wow!" Like a lot of people that have heard my music said, "That don't sound like you." But, I got all type of stuff. There's defintely a lot of variety.

Ballerstatus.com: Being so young and just pretty much entering the game, how do you plan to stick around for long and ensure your longevity in the rap industry?

Tyga: Just basically listen to the people I do have around me to the people that are actually helping me and telling me right from wrong. And to never think that I'm better than anybody. Like I respect these artists. It's actually different when you sit back and see new people come out. You actually get in the game and then you come out and you see these big artists, it's like, "Damn, they went through a lot." It's hard work to get to that kind of level. It's very hard to get to that level. I ain't trying to be the best, I ain't trying to be the worst, I just want to be Tyga.