Young Jeezy did it, T.I. did it and now Yung L.A. is doing it. 22-year-old Leland Austin is not only taking Atlanta under his wings, but he is slowly taking the nation with him as well.
Even though he has the initials “L.A”, don’t let it fool you. Leland has been holding down the ATL for quite some time. As a child growing up in the inner city, he knew music was something he was destined to do. In 8th grade, he already began to record songs. Growing up from a child to an adult, Yung LA opened many shows and dropped his own mixtape Crush The Block in 2006. And one year later, the rapper got his big break when he signed to Grand Hustle, the home of the King of the South, T.I. and Young Dro.
Fast forward to 2009, what may seem like an enternity to some, Yung LA is ready to make his mark in the music industry. BallerStatus.com caught up with the young MC and discussed what it means to have “black boy/white boy swag,” how guys can “Elroy” the ladies, and more as he takes us through a “futuristic” journey.
BallerStatus.com: You grew up in the ATL and that’s really where your music career started, but as a child I read you were into playing sports?
Yung LA: You learn a lot from sports. With sports and music, you need a lot of dedication, determination and hard work. I was just competitive as a kid I liked basketball and football growing up.
BallerStatus.com: Did you catch any of the NBA playoff games and if so who were you rooting for?
Yung LA: Yea I did. I wasn’t really rooting for anyone [after] Atlanta got knocked out.
BallerStatus.com: I read when you first came out or decided to rap, you never really got the kind of exposure you wanted and because of that you turned to the streets.
Yung LA: Just being a kid from the inner city, [I was] always around adversity and controversy. I had a talent, but at the time it was just all about getting heard and getting seen. In the midst of getting heard and getting seen, there was a lot going on around me, so it’s easy to get distracted.
BallerStatus.com: Did you ever take a break of music totally?
Yung LA: Nah, I always stayed close to the records a little bit. I never really got away from it no matter what I was doing.
BallerStatus.com: Fast forward a few years and it seems you are finally getting the exposure you wanted. In 2007, you signed with Grand Hustle. Tell us how it all went down.
Yung LA: Doing a lot of performances in the city. Performing in the city at TI’s club, Club Crucial, [and] performing at other different venues. That’s what really got me noticed in the city. Everybody started seeing me in clubs performing and noticed that I had hot songs. After that I put out mixtapes.
BallerStatus.com: What do you think stood out to them? And made them say “We need this guy on our team.”
Yung LA: My style. Just like today. Just like how my style stands out when you see me on “106 & Park” or you see me out. I don’t look like the average rapper from Atlanta. I’ve always been like that even before I was rapping. Even when I was in the hood, I was always different and I always stood out through my physical appearance and that’s one of the things that put me over the top.
BallerStatus.com: How do you think fans will accept your sense of creativity and style?
Yung LA: As a new artist they should love it. There’s not really too many artists doing anything different. Everybody else is basically following hip-hop and following what we’ve been seeing for years and years and following rappers that came before us. But me, I’m trying to do something different. I’m trying to break that barrier for the youth. This is something new and this is something the youth can be proud of. My futuristic movement is a youthful movement that everybody can jump on.
BallerStatus.com: We touched on your creative style a bit, but I can’t go on without mentioning your mohawk. How long have you been rocking that hairstyle?
Yung LA: I started wearing the Mohawk when I was like 18. I’m 23 now, so it’s like five years that I’ve been really doing it. Then you see everybody trying to do it. You had people doing it here and there, but you didn’t have inner city kids from the projects doing it. Once I started, it’s like everybody else around the world started doing it. I even seen Terrence on “106 & Park” with a mohawk and I’ve never seen him with a mohawk. It’s just rubbing off everywhere, so I had to cut the mohawk. I don’t have it anymore because I’m a trendsetter and a leader. Once I blaze the path and everybody jumps on the trail, then I go to something else. That’s how I’m futuristic and that’s how I always stay ahead of the game. It’s always like I’m staying ahead of myself.
BallerStatus.com: So what is your current trend right now?
Yung LA: For me it’s “white boy/black boy swag,” and that’s just saying my swag. I love to wear Abercrombie and Fitch, I love to wear Polo. I love to wear American Eagle, Gap, stuff of that nature, so we called it “black boy swag/white boy swag,” and that’s my kind of style. We also have some kids on our label called the Rich Kids that are up under me. [They are] inner city kids from Atlanta and when you see these kids, they are a prime example of what the youth stand for in Atlanta. They got the same swag, black boy/white boy. They would be wearing the skinny jeans sometimes. We’re just doing our own thing. We’re just having fun.
BallerStatus.com: What I really like is that people can’t really classify you or label you just as “T.I.’s artist” because you have this unique style.
Yung LA: Fans already know all they have to do is watch T.I. and watch me. We’re two different people. T.I.’s music is totally different than mine. His lyrical content is totally different than mine. My lyrical content is totally different from his. His appearance is totally different from mine. I don’t think it’s hard to pick me and T.I. apart. If you see me and T.I. standing together, you’re automatically going to say “Oh that’s T.I.P.” and if you don’t know my name is LA “You’re going to say, but who is that guy?”
BallerStatus.com: Let’s get to your monster single, “Ain’t I”. That track has not only been blowing up the southern airwaves, but all over the country. If that’s not enough, it even earned you a Best Collaboration nomination at the BET Awards with Young Dro and T.I. Did you ever think that song would gain that much success so fast?
Yung LA: Honestly, I didn’t. That song was for the inner city. That was a hood song. I came up with it in the hood. So it was actually for the hood clubs in Atlanta that’s what I made the song for. I wasn’t thinking about Japan when I made the song; I wasn’t thinking about Delaware when I made the song; I wasn’t thinking about Seattle. But the song crossed over and I guess that was the kind of song it was. It was an inner city song, but it had cross over potential and it’s still on the Billboard charts. It’s still crossing all over the world. It was a great record for me, great first single.
BallerStatus.com: “Futuristic Love,” which is your second single off your album. You recently dropped the video off at BET for it as well. Talk about that track for a second.
Yung LA: That song was just bringing you more into my world and letting the people get up-close with LA. “Ain’t I” gave me a big fan base, not only kids, not only middle-aged, but adults too. So I covered the board with the first single, so now I’m showing the ladies: “Come to my world, this is futuristic Leland I want to Elroy you.” The whole concept was Elroy Jetson of “The Jetsons.” I was playing Elroy in the video, basically telling the girl “I want to Elroy you.” Elroy you is the way I would love you and the way I would treat you and the way I would romance you. You can only get Elroyed by Yung LA because I’m futuristic. Everybody can’t Elroy you. You got to come to Elroy.
BallerStatus.com: Were you a big fan of “The Jetsons” growing up?
Yung LA: I used to look at The Jetsons, but I ain’t used to like it like that. I just took the concept from it for me being futuristic and I feel like it was the best thing that would express that concept.
BallerStatus.com: Did you ever catch yourself fantasizing a lot as a kid or growing up about your future?
Yung LA: Yes. I always pictured myself as the kind of person my family could call on and depend on. I always thought I was going to be a wealthy person, so I knew I was going to be well off either playing sports or rapping. It was going to be one or the other. I dropped out of school in the 10th grade and turned my back on sports because I had a passion for rapping and I had faith. I stepped out on that faith and five years later, I got two hit records.
BallerStatus.com: We already know about your two singles off your album, Futuristic Leland. Fill us in on the rest of the album and when is it dropping?
Yung LA: August 18th, the album is dropping. It’s going to be crazy. I got features on there by Cam’ron, I got Lil Boosie on there. I went in with producer Jim Jonsin. I got some cats from my Grand Hustle family. So it’s going to be a good album, strong album.
BallerStatus.com: What’s the main theme of the album?
Yung LA: It’s coming out in the summer, so it’s going to be the music for the summer. This is going to be the kind of CD you can pop in from front to back. The production is going to be good, but the vocals and the delivery is going to be so smooth and so well going that it’s easy on the ears. It’s not going to be one of them rap records that you’re ready to pop out because there’s so much noise. It’s going to be a smooth album and everybody is going to be able to listen to.
BallerStatus.com: Finally looking where you were and looking where you are today, are you satisfied how things have played out for you thus far?
Yung LA: Everything is going good. I can’t complain about the way things are going. I can’t complain how things are going and the kind of feedback I’ve been getting from fans and how they’ve been embracing me. But I’m still working hard this is only my first album. And my first album hasn’t even dropped yet. So by no means am I anywhere comfortable. I’m nowhere, where I want to be but I’m on the road to that.