YG is suffering through a sophomore jinx of another stripe. The Compton rapper, born Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson, exploded on the scene with My Krazy Life in 2014, a debut effort fans hailed as an instant classic for its gritty tales of LA gang life. His momentum showed no signs of slowing last summer with the feel-good West Coast G-Funk sounds of “Twist My Fingaz.” But being shot three times, working with new producers and even having the Secret Service sweat his lyrics all delayed the release of YG’s follow-up album, Still Krazy.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he says. “To finally get here, it feels like a baby [is gonna] be born.” The rapper had a daughter of his own last May, but just three weeks later, an unknown gunman tried to end his life. YG took three bullets to the hip at an LA recording studio, but he bounced back quickly. “That really wasn’t a setback from me recording because I went straight to the studio,” he says. But the incident left YG paranoid for a while, a sentiment shared by LA-area studios, who were hesitant to book the rapper, forcing him to fly up to the Bay Area to record the finishing touches.
A falling out with DJ Mustard, who produced much of My Krazy Life, was another obstacle. YG had to find and work with new producers, building chemistry with them over time. The two finally worked out their differences after the fact. “I was going through a lot of shit like that,” YG says. “You most definitely going to hear about and feel the struggle up in the verses.”
In the meantime, YG made waves by teaming with Nipsey Hussle to take down a certain loud-mouthed presidential candidate. “Motherfuckers got platforms to say something, but they ain’t doing it,” YG says. “We took it upon ourselves and whatever consequences come with this, we gonna deal with them.” Borrowing the bassline from The Conscious Daughters’ “Fonky Expedition,” YG and Nipsey Hussle dropped “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)” in late March. The track gave protesters something to ride to, becoming the undisputed anti-Trump anthem.
More of a body check to a would-be Bigot In Chief than a letter to a president, the song also delivered a language of defiance to youth. YG cautioned that if Trump ever tried to rally in LA, people would “fuck it up,” and the Donald seems to have gotten the message. Though the billionaire may have thought posting up in Costa Mesa would be safe, he was proven wrong. The simple chorus of “Fuck Donald Trump” echoed throughout the OC Fairgrounds—whether a cappella in crowds or blaring from Bluetooth speakers—where Trump held a rally on April 28. Youth took over an intersection and got a little rowdy late into the night. “That song was like a bottle of Hennessy to motherfuckers,” YG says. “It got motherfuckers saying how they really feel.”
Not everybody is a fan of “FDT.” The latest delay Still Krazy suffered came when the Secret Service called with questions about the album. “They hit Universal up, the mother company,” YG says. “They were saying they need the lyrics to the album to see if there’s any more records that I’m talking about Donald Trump [on] because if there was, they were gonna try to sue and get the album pulled off the shelves.”
While the rapper aims to keep the protest track on the album, it’s certain Still Krazy will come soon with or without it. “I’ve been in the studio for a motherfucking year and a half working on this goddamn album!” YG says. “I can’t wait to hit the road and turn up!”
YG performs with Chance the Rapper, Big Sean and more at Powerhouse 2016 at the Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (800) 745-3000; www.hondacenter.com. Fri., 6 p.m. $55-$300. All ages.