Whether in the studio or an in-office tequila tasting (which the rapper was coincidentally able to crash when he came to VIBE's headquarters), YP demands attention.
On his latest mixtape 'No Doz,' the follow-up to the successful 'Still Awake' project that landed him a Universal deal, the rapper explores his creative freedom with the luxuries of a major label signee and the real experiences of a Chi-town soldier. Towering at a baller-tall 6'4'', there's no other way for the emcee to go but up. He tells VIBE how he's dealt with co-signs from legendary spitters, how his new video on domestic abuse came right on time and why his name fits him.
For some of our readers who may not be familiar with your music, what are three things that separate you from other artists out now?
I'm real, relate-able and emotional. When you hear the product I'm putting out, you're gonna get a glimpse into my life and it's not gonna be something that's too far-fetched. I'm not gonna tell you tales. It may be something you never heard of but it's also gonna be something you can relate to all the time. I never go too far out the realm of the listeners. When you do that, you lose everybody so I just be me and people gravitate towards that.
Is that how you approach the creative process?
Yeah, I never approach a song like I gotta make this song for my guys or the ladies or the club 'cause then you concentrating on something you might step out of your own element. I just go in and however I'm feeling, that's how I write and people tend to like that as opposed to you trying to reach something else. That's the difference between longevity and fans, and fly-by night. I call all my fans family. People move me. They saw me get a scrape on my knee and they also saw me make 10 million dollars.
Now you're from Chi-town known for producing great acts like Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, but then you also have the up-and-comers Rockie Fresh and Chief Keef. What are your thoughts on your hometown co-stars?
Me and Rockie Fresh are close, that's like my little brother. He called me the day he signed the [MMG] deal and I knew about those deals before the world knew. Chief Keef - I rock with what he got going on. It's a voice that's necessary. The fact that people may say that what's going on around them is glorified, it's not. It's their job to tell you what's going on their way. Now it's just sad that it's like an epidemic that's going on in Chicago and some people just don't understand. When they don't understand, they don't understand the music. They don't see what goes on, each and every day or where they getting that from.
What's your take on Keef tweeting that Kanye didn't make him?
That's their business. I don't have nothing to do with that. I think that anything that Kanye does or Lupe or Common or Twista gets magnified but as far as making him, that's how they feel about it. I knew about Keef before it but it's not like that.
You've also gotten good looks from legendary acts like Nas and Q-Tip. What was meeting them like?
Q-Tip actually co-signed me in 2010 and when I first went out to L.A., No I.D. had me in the studio. He actually had Q-Tip and Nas there and he's like, 'You know Q-Tip?' so I'm like, 'Yeah,' he went into the room with and then Q-Tip asked me, 'You know Nas right?' and I was like 'No.' So then Nas tapped me, he turned me around then told me that him and Tip heard some stuff and they were rockin' with me and that I may be the future of hip hop. That was just a big statement for me. I got starstruck that day. Nas just told me that. I went to the store in the third grade to buy his album. That's like surreal.
What's being in the studio with No I.D. like?
No I.D. is dope. He's like a real producer. His thing is like talk to you before, he doesn't just like take you in the booth and play you a bunch of beats and let you rap. He gets into your brain and knocks out a joint based on those conversations.
Since signing with Universal, has there been anyone else that you've met that you were in awe of?
Nah, unless it was Jay-Z, then I wouldn't know what to say. I look at everyone as competition so I'm not supposed to be like, 'Oh that's so and so.' It's a mutual respect.
You get to work with Hit-Boy and Raekwon on your new mixtape 'No Doz.' How did those collaborations come about?
Raekwon co-signed me back in 2010 as well so our relationship is like deeper than me just doing a song with him. Everything that I was doing, I would get like a progress report from him, like man this is what I'm doing last month or last 2 weeks in terms of getting my career started. I wanted to take advantage and do a song with him when it seemed right. We've had a relationship for over two years and this is the first time I got bars from him. It just meant a whole lot as opposed to me just saying, 'Hey man, I rock with your music, you rock with mine, let's do a song and you say I'm cool.' It ain't nothin' like that. He actually know my character. I did Rock The Bells [and] Cincinatti Conference with him so it was pretty much surreal.
As far as Hit-Boy is concerned, we had a mutual friend and he set that up. When he came into the studio, he didn't know what to expect, I didn't know what to expect. Very first time meeting each other. After you do a song like 'Paris,' you not trying to hear no brand new artist, you're not gonna play your best for me at all. But when we both played music, we was like 'Let's do this.' It was a no-brainer so we worked together and just tried to capture a moment.
What was the biggest difference in the creative process from 'Still Awake' to 'No Doz?'
The biggest difference I had [was] access to the studio 24 hours. I got signed, I relocated to L.A., I got chicks, good reefer, I'm chillin. So the process was a lot easier than 'Still Awake.' 'Still Awake' was a whole lotta stuff going on personally that kinda like kept me away from the booth for a couple days, weeks at a time so it took a while for it to get done. This time around, I just kinda concentrated and I had plenty of joints to go through and had 24 hours to just do it.
You also have your new video "To The Moon" which is real deep because it touches on domestic violence and prostitution. Why put out a song like that now?
'Cause I asked myself the question of who's rapping about that and to the point where it makes somebody else care about it. Those are real situations, just like everything else we rap about. People say it's glorification, but I'm just letting you know what's going on and what's on the scene and what we're going through. My whole thing is to push the bar and I know that when I do that, people are listening and hopefully it could touch somebody's life as opposed to me letting it go to the wayside. That's actually a video that I pushed for, like the camp loves everything else but that song is my personal project.
Did it come from someone you knew?
I had a conversation with a female two hours before I recorded the song. She could've been going through a situation that derived from something like that. So I used that story and others that I knew.
It seems like perfect timing because of the Evelyn Lozada and Ochocinco drama. What's your take on that?
Under those circumstances, you should never put your hands on a female. From what I've heard, it's unfortunate. I even saw on 'World Star', he got fired from Miami. I hope he gets through it.
A name says a lot about a person so why Your Problem?
I wanna be everybody's problem like when you listen to him, like this dude is crazy. Any questions people have about the game, I'm the problem and the answer for it.
Check out YP's newest video "To The Moon" below.