Yung L.A. Interview
|Label:||BlackBoy WhiteBoy/Grand Hustle/Interscope|
|Next Project:||Futuristic Leland|
|Website:||Yung L.A.'s Website|
If, as many have stated, the future is now, it’s quite a bit different than most of us expected—flying cars are nowhere to be found, only the very wealthiest are able to afford space vacations, and robot maids are looking like less and less of a possibility. Fortunately, a few of today’s hottest hip-hop artists have undertaken to provide the soundtrack to the science-fiction future we may never get to experience, and foremost among these is Grand Hustle up-and-comer Yung L.A.
Born and bred in the projects of Southeastern Atlanta, L.A. rose from his rough upbringing to become one of the city’s most renowned local artists, and now he’s looking to blast off into the stratosphere of fame and fortune with the summer release of debut studio album Futuristic Leland. As evidenced by hit lead single “Ain’t I” and its recently-featured follow-up, “Futuristic Love (Elroy),” the LP will showcase a sound that’s both ahead of its time and uniquely suited to the airwaves of today.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Yung L.A. steps into the Booth to discuss what he’s been up to since signing to Grand Hustle in ‘07, his out-of-the-box approach to both music and fashion, and his ingenious plan to bring bathrooms into the 21st century (Yes, you read that right).
Listen to the Interview
Yung L.A. Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Southeast Atlanta native whose futuristic sound and mindset landed him a deal with Interscope through T.I.‘s Grand Hustle. Preparing for the summer release of his debut album, the appropriately-titled Futuristic Leland, please welcome Yung L.A.—how you doin’?
Yung L.A.: Hey man, what’s up? I appreciate you havin’ me. You know me, man: keepin’ it pumped up to the max, baby!
DJ Booth: Absolutely. I appreciate you joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. You know, a lot of people see the stage name “Yung L.A.” and they unfortunately automatically assume that you’re from the West Coast. Give everybody the lowdown on what “L.A.” really stands for.
Yung L.A.: I was goin’ with “Yung Leland Austin,” but I thought it was too long to break in as “Yung Leland Austin,” so I just shortened it up to “Yung L.A.,” man.
DJ Booth: Hey, it works for me! You signed your initial record deal in May of 2007, so we’re looking at about two years ago. How difficult has it been to remain patient for so long?
Yung L.A.: I don’t think it was the fact of remaining patient, I think it was the fact of me stayin’ busy. Like you said, it’s been two years, but it don’t feel like [it’s been] two years—since I came into Grand Hustle, I’ve been workin’. My time has been occupied as far as working in the studio, going out on the road doing shows, and just gettin’ around. At the end of the day it’s like, the time went by, but I think I’ve been noticed, I think I’ve been puttin’ in good work.
DJ Booth: Absolutely, you are noticed, and that’s because, over the course of the last 33 weeks, your debut single, “Ain’t I,” managed to climb the charts from 99 all the way into the top 10. So, congratulations for that!
Yung L.A.: Thank you, man, I appreciate it. I appreciate all my fans, everybody who’s been supporting the “Ain’t I” record. “Ain’t I” wouldn’t do what it do without y’all, so big ups to everybody supportin’ Yung L.A.—ba-bowww!
DJ Booth: L.A., would that slow and steady pace from 99 into the top 10 accurately describe your journey from unsigned emcee to buzzing newcomer?
Yung L.A.: Yeah, I think it would. To the world I popped out of nowhere, but my buzz had been strong in Atlanta, long before Grand Hustle. And that’s what actually got me the deal with Grand Hustle, ’ cause I had a big buzz in my city without a deal. [I was] one of the youngest kids in the city who had one of the biggest buzz, but I had no deal. But I can go into any club in Atlanta, and everybody knows my songs, know what I mean? It was crazy.
DJ Booth: As I mentioned in the open, in addition to your sound being different, your style is also a little bit left-of-center. How long have you been rockin’ that fauxhawk?
Yung L.A.: Oh, man, the mohawk story… [that’s why] I call myself futuristic: ‘cause I’m always doin’ something first, and then it comes back around. I was wearing the mohawk three or four years ago—actually, when Dro signed me, I had a mohawk. This ain’t an image people put together and put in front of the fans; this is really who I am, and this is how we’re rocking, know what I mean?
DJ Booth: When you went about discovering yourself as an artist, and you asked yourself, “Who do I wanna be?” what did you come up with? Or did it just kinda happen?
Yung L.A.: I knew who I was goin’ into it. I knew what I possessed, and my confidence in myself; I just needed a chance to show the world, you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: Well, you have that chance now, and part of that is thanks to your label boss, T.I. I want to talk about this for a second: he has a prison sentence looming, and obviously, for most artists, if that were to happen to their label boss, their project might just get set on the back burner and forgotten about. Do you feel that this situation with T.I. will have any negative effect on the direction and the push of your debut?
Yung L.A.: No, sir. I think, right now, it will open up the doors as far as the fanbase. First of all, you’ve got to understand Grand Hustle; before you say “T.I.,” you say “Grand Hustle” as a family, and you look at what T.I. has built and the fanbase and the consistent hard work. There are so many fans of Grand Hustle—not just of T.I., but of Grand Hustle—for the consistent work they’ve been putting in for years and years and years, and I think I benefit from that. I think I come in, and I catch the whole Grand Hustle fanbase, I think I come in and I catch all of Tip’s fans, and with me havin’ a hot single with Tip on it right now, I think T.I.‘s fanbase and the whole Grand Hustle fanbase kinda are fans of Yung L.A., and their love for T.I. and Grand Hustle will trickle down to me and what I’m doin’. This sh*t be crazy for me!
DJ Booth: Well, that fandom is only going to grow larger once everybody gets ahold of your follow-up single, “Futuristic Love (Elroy),” which we have featured here at DJBooth.net. L.A., how long have you imagined cartoon characters gettin’ their freak on as motivation for a song?
Yung L.A.: That wasn’t really the motivation for the song; the motivation for the song was me and my futuristic state of mind. Around the studio everybody used to call me “Yung El,” and they were like, “You’re so futuristic that you’re just gonna be ‘Yung Elroy!’” and that’s “Elroy” [from The Jetsons]. So, really what I was doin’ was picturing myself as being one of the youngest people in Grand Hustle, and I was steppin’ into the character of bein’ Elroy. It’s kind of like bringin’ a girl into my world, and I’m givin’ her futuristic lovin. You can’t get futuristic lovin’ from anybody else; you’ve got to get futuristic lovin’ from Futuristic Leland, know what I mean?
DJ Booth: [laughs] I think what it is is, you’re just so futuristically-minded that I’m having a hard time catching up—you can understand that, right?
Yung L.A.: [laughs] Hey, I can understand that. They always seem to catch up, though, after a while they catch on.
DJ Booth: I hope I do, that’s for sure! The future, L.A., has always been synonymous with advances in technology and medicine. What are a few products or discoveries that you’d like to see in the near future?
Yung L.A.: A toilet tissue dispenser that you don’t even have to touch, it’s just, like, a sensor, and it never runs out of tissue, it loads itself up and everything. That’d be crazy! No more runnin’ out the roll, taking the tissue off the long thing and putting it back in. Now you’ve got a dispenser; you don’t have to do nothing! You come in, sit down, have tissue, once you run out it drops down in the trash can and another one falls out—that’s crazy!
DJ Booth: I see that you’ve given this question some thought—have you gotten this one before?
Yung L.A.: No, I haven’t gotten it before, but that’s something that I’ve always wanted, you know what I’m saying? That’s something new that everybody can use around the world. Everybody has to use the bathroom, and I think that’s convenient to everybody.
DJ Booth: Do you think that, after the album drops and you sell a million copies and you tour across the country, you’ll have time to actually put this plan into motion? I can help you out with some funding, and we can make this happen!
Yung L.A.: Okay, cool, cool, cool. I’m all with it, man, ‘cause, one thing my fans don’t know about me is I’m an urban kid from [the projects of] Southeast Atlanta, but I never let my surroundings box me in, and I never conformed to just one thing; I’m always tryin’ to be broad, and I’m always open to a lot of stuff. I’m never boxed in.
DJ Booth: So, the sky’s the limit for you?
Yung L.A.: The sky’s the limit. Even though I’m a project kid and I’m from the inner city, that don’t mean I’m not gonna rock the mohawk. Just ‘cause I’m from [Thomasville] doesn’t mean I’m not gonna rock American Eagle or Abercrombie and Fitch, know what I’m saying?
DJ Booth: I applaud you for not being content with the status quo and obviously moving forward in the right direction. L.A., I read a previous interview that you did and you were quoted as saying that your debut is an album full of “self-esteem music.” So, considering the economic woes and the massive unemployment that has occurred as a result, how much of an impact do you feel that your music can make on listeners?
Yung L.A.: My style is a feel-good style, and I think I’ve got the kind of music that, no matter what you’re goin’ through, when you put my music in, I think that’s an outlet for you to relieve, for you to forget about all your troubles and everything. ‘Cause the kind of music that I make, once it comes on you can’t help but move, and you can be goin’ through your worst day, but if you pop L.A. in your head’s gonna nod. And that’s the kind of effect my music has on people.
DJ Booth: Let me give you a suggestion: when the album is ready for an advance copy to be sent out, you might wanna postmark one to the White House, because I think that they could use some inspirational music.
Yung L.A.: [laughs] Hey man, I might have to get one up there to Barack! You know, another young, black man doin’ something positive and tryin’ to turn things around for himself.
DJ Booth: Absolutely! Well, the future is certainly a question that a lot of people are intrigued about, and since you are so in tune with what’s going on in the future, I’d like for you to forecast hip-hop in 10 years—what will it sound like in 2019?
Yung L.A.: Hip-hop seems to repeat itself in a cycle, and that’s what I see as far as styles and kinds of music, so we might be seein’ a blend of everything that’s been before that, know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: Okay, so a potpourri of everything that’s worked over the last 20 years or so.
Yung L.A.: Right, right.
DJ Booth: Where would you hope to be in 10 years, as far as your recording career is concerned?
Yung L.A.: In 10 years I would like to be an executive. Everything I’m gonna be doing in 10 years is gonna be on the executive side. Right now I’m building a solid foundation for myself, to be able to branch out. With my work ethic, and just what I’ve accomplished in two years, it’s crazy. Eight more years—wow!
DJ Booth: Well, I don’t want you to get overwhelmed, ‘cause your chief concern right now obviously is the next few months leading up to your debut offering. So, don’t even think about 10 years from now; just concentrate on the current.
Yung L.A.: Yes sir, that’s what I said: I’ve gotta make sure my foundation’s solid right now.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. I’d hate to know that you hung up the phone with me and said, “This guy wants me to talk about 10 years from now, and I haven’t even released my debut—what is he talking about?!”
Yung L.A.: [laughs] It’s all good, man!
DJ Booth: L.A., give everybody a website or a MySpace page, something so they can find out more about yourself and your blossoming career.
Yung L.A.: Hey, all my friends, all my fans who’ve been listening, if you’re a real fan of Yung L.A. then you’ll be checkin’ me out on MySpace: myspace.com/yunglamusic. And also you can hit me on the website, which is yung-la.com.
DJ Booth: I appreciate you takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck, my friend.
Yung L.A.: Hey man, I appreciate you taking the time out to get to me, and I wish you the best of luck with everything you’ve got goin’ on, sir.