Having a mix tape titled “Bitch, I’m the Shit” doesn’t exactly inspire humility; but after having sat down with our cover man, Tyga, I quickly learned that the confidence behind his persona is nothing short of the hard work and resilience he’s dedicated to his achievements, which, warning, are starting to be almost too many to feature in this story.
The man is inspired! And like any great artist, he’s allowed himself to pay homage to his inspiration by putting in his own word. Oh, and, he never stops seeking it.
We all remember hanging posters on our walls of the musicians that spoke to us as young kids–when Tyga reflects on those years he references them as the “mood boards” of his teenage life. Voraciously consuming magazines such as XXL and Word Up, Tyga would tear out the pages that would create the mood he desired to have his life emulate . No doubt pictures of Dipset and a young Jay Z adorned his walls, but he also speaks of keying in on the outfits that would speak to this overall mood.
Where as most of us leave behind those mood boards only to be discovered in the cob-webbed closet you didn’t even know existed in the back of your grandma’s house, Tyga took hold of his passion and took a little trip to Radio Shack. He spent $50 on a microphone and brought it home to test himself. When he put his voice to the mic, he was initially frustrated–he was measuring himself up to the flows of his idols; but somewhere in there, in the fashion that I respect most about Tyga, he admits that he “liked the sound of [his] own voice.” And armed with that self respect he carried himself through his frustration and made spitting verses “a necessary part of life,” going at it endlessly as soon as he would get home from school.
What’s interesting about Tyga is that his first label was not one of the usual suspects. He was initially signed to Decaydance Records which is an independent label owned by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, and much more associated with independent rock and punk [than hip-hop]. This is what is so great about Tyga; he takes opportunity, even the one that doesn’t seem to be the most obvious, and makes it his own.
When I asked him about any surprising moments in his career he references his explosive 2011, “Rack City”, which he says he made in about 30 minutes.
“I was just making something fun; I wanted to bring back the fun.”
That fun landed him two consecutive weeks in the Billboard Top 10 and sort of started a phenomenon. Tyga’s catchy choruses and carefree style has served as an obvious inspiration for the hip-hop that has been released since.
But Tyga’s influence is now opening up opportunities in new creative spheres and in true Tyga fashion, when inspiration calls, he answers. That inspiration has drawn him towards fashion. A fickle-friend industry that isn’t for the faint of heart, but one that Tyga’s been able to make a mark on. He’s had a street wear label by the name of Last Kings for the past 3 years and its brick and mortart counterparts have just expanded from having one store in Los Angeles to two, with a recently opened second location in Orange County. But it doesn’t stop at street wear; he has now unarguably entered into the world of high fashion. He accounts a day when was invited by Balmain’s Olivier Rousting to the Met Ball while he was hanging at Kanye’s own merchandise factory. He talks about texting back and forth with Olivier in the weeks leading up to the event about inspiration and concept for his outfit. Tyga, in line with his luxurious eye, had the idea for a Swarovski crysta- embossed bomber jacket that would be of one time use reading, “Met Gala 2016, Balmain.” He ended up going with a classier look by the designer for the actual event but got the bomber for the after party.
High fashion doesn’t stop there. He is a new member of the enviable “Wang Gang” as one of the artists featured in Alexander Wang’s new campaign in which he says is not only a photo campaign, but also incorporates music video and is “really exciting and creative.”
He currently has a collaboration out with Milan-based Marcelo Burlon that is exclusive to Saks Fifth Avenue and he’s a bit hush, hush but very smiley when he mentions that he is working on another label of his own. He is in awe of the factories that Marcelo has set up in Milan and respectfully nods at their collaboration as a precursor for that, which is to come independently.
If that isn’t enough, the second season of his reality TV show on MTV, Kingin’ with Tyga is being released this summer in which he gives us entree into his luxurious lifestyle. This season will undoubtedly further expose you to his love affair with gold chains and luxury cars while taking you on trips cross-continent, from Australia to Dubai. The show is hilarious and true to him. Besides reality television, he is also taking a serious turn into the acting world. After a debut role in “Dope” he landed a spot in Ice Cube’s Barber Shop: The Final Cut, which he says he “took very seriously” and “put a lot of work into preparing for.” He cites Ice Cube as an inspiration of his as a rapper who allowed for his career to unfold and develop in a way that stayed true to his identity while allowing him to explore different platforms. He has also just completed filming the comedy, Going Under alongside Bruce Willis, which is set to debut in the fall.
With all this going on I couldn’t help but wonder, “do you ever get overwhelmed?”
“No,” he coolly responded, “because every project I take on I make sure is part of the conversation of me as an artist.”
He is careful about not overworking himself by keeping it all in line with his vision for who he is first and foremost as a hip-hop artist
His days since Decaydance Records are long gone, having recently departed from the notable Cash Money Records, he is now on his own label, “Last King Records.” Tyga does what his heart desires. The beef with Cash Money was spoken to in the release of his first single with Last King, cheekily entitled, “Cash Money” where he says it like it is, explaining how even though he’s not Cash Money he makes Cash Money. This is the sort of hip-hop that makes you reflect on the glory days of punk music where the musicians were, for the first time, completely uncensored. In a sense, hip-hop is the punk of our time and Tyga is definitely on the forefront.
Be sure to listen to his new mix tape entitled “Bitch, I’m the Shit Part 2” and be ready for the release of his new studio album under his own label that rest assured will be filled with some new and exciting collaborations that will certainly have you “screaming like Ayo.”