You’ve released a few big tracks lately with Lil’ Wayne, Are you surprised at all by the response you’ve gotten?
Yeah, definitely. As an artist, you know when you hit it, but it’s still crazy when people start noticing you. I haven’t even dropped anything official yet.
You were on Fall Out Boy’s “Arms Race” remix. How did that come about?
Fall Out Boy asked me to do a verse for it. I didn’t know it was going to be that big or who else was going to be on it. It was big. It leaked all over the internet and I had a name off of that. I was at the VMA’s performing that.
How did things change for you once the remix dropped?
Things started moving more faster. More people started hitting me up. More people started acknowledging me. I had a couple songs on HipHopGame right after that too. People started paying attention.
Did that song let you see how valuable a cosign is to being broken as an artist today?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. I always knew it was about who you know, especially when you’re so young. There’s only so far somebody else’s success can take you. I got Fall Out Boy and Lil’ Wayne. I got some successful cosigns. It makes people look at me more seriously, but it ain’t no matter when I drop my stuff. That’s just for people to acknowledge me.
How did you link up with Lil’ Wayne?
From the VMA’s. We linked up after that. I’ve been in the studio with him for the last year. Now I’m a part of Young Money and I’m on Tha Carter III, his album that’s coming out in May. Wayne records all the time and he’s got so many tracks. He don’t even really care when tracks leak. He has so many tracks. We put that out there for people real quick.
What’s it like working with Wayne in the studio?
Man, it’s cool, man. It’s comfortable. You feel like you’re in a good zone to work in. We knock out one song and he’s ready to go to the next and the next. There’s a lot of freedom.
Has your work ethic changed since working with Wayne?
Yeah, definitely. I’m always recording. When I’m with him, we go to the studio every night. I think I’ve gotten a little better. I think I’ve stepped my game up a little more and I think I get better every song. I think that pressure makes you try your hardest.
What can you tell us about the song you recorded with Lil’ Wayne for Tha Carter III?
Wayne just put one of them out on the streets. That’s one that he’s leaked right now. There’s one where he’s rapping on it and there’s one that I’m on. There’s a song with me, Hurricane Chris and Jibbs. It’s all young people on it and it’s basically going to be an interlude on the album. I don’t want to give too much up. You have to get the album to find out. The bars I spit on there is crazy. It’s crazy. Everybody else spit a 16 on there and I spit a 32. My 16 was so hot that he wanted me to spit another one. He wanted me to shine. I’m the only one that’s got 32 on that.
How did you originally get down with Fall Out Boy?
I gave my cousin Travis [McCoy, of Gym Class Heroes] my mixtape. I didn’t really start paying attention. I gave him my mixtape a couple of years ago and he raps too. I think I was 15 or 16 then. I recorded the mixtape in my house in my room. He said it was real good and he could hear my hunger and that I had a lot of potential. He turned me onto a lot of people. And Pete [Wentz] a hold of my mixtape and I rapped for him. He said he wanted to sign me. They signed me and I went on tour with them and then they got me on the “Arms Race” song and then I got under Young Money. I’m everywhere, man. I got the biggest rock band on my team and the biggest rapper on my team.
You’ve had a relatively easy introduction to the industry when compared to what a lot of other MCs have had to go through.
It wasn’t easy. I’ve been doing it way long before I met all of them. People knew I was ready. I’ve been ready. I’ve been developing since I was 11. I’ve been working on it. What I’ve done in the past is more relevant now. It was never easy. I just feel like I’m blessed, man.
Did you ever think that the Gym Class Heroes would blow up the way they did?
Nah. I just knew that my cousin did music. I went to a show before they blew up. I went to a show out here in L.A. and it was sold out and there were probably 10,000 people there. I was like, ‘Damn, he’s got a buzz!’ I didn’t even know it. They had a big underground buzz before they came out commercially. I saw that and I went on tour with them and I was like, ‘Damn, a lot of people know who they are. They’re about to blow up.’ I started taking them more seriously and I paid attention.
What have you learned so far from being in the industry and seeing things a lot of artists don’t get to see until they get a major label deal?
Once you get in the game, you realize that it’s not over. There’s way much more work. You have to get in the game and it’s not that easy to do, but once you get to that level where you get signed, there’s way more work to do.
In XXL’s April issue, they ran a list about who was next out of the West. You weren’t named. Do you take that as an insult or a sign that you have to work harder?
I don’t get mad because I know what I’m doing and I know that people come around later. People probably don’t know that I’m a West Coast artist yet because of the whole West Coast genre right now with gangsta rap. It’s crazy because a lot of dudes that they put on the list, I know all them dudes and they know me. I know all those up-and-coming West Coast artists and it’s not an insult. My video is about to drop and I don’t even feel like anything’s really started for me yet.
You have a new single out titled “Coconut Juice”. What can you tell us about that?
I wanted to give you something different. The whole “Coconut Juice” thing came about because I don’t drink alcohol. I was in the club and sometimes you just want to have a cup, not to look cool but just to be sipping on something while you’re dancing. I usually have cranberry juice and something else in it besides alcohol. I think somebody came to me one day and asked me what I was sipping on. Me being the funny person that I am, I said, “Coconut juice.” I didn’t mean for them to take me serious like I was really sipping on coconut juice, but they went to the bar and asked for coconut juice. Ever since then I’ve been telling people that and I just made it into a song one day. It was crazy. I was just in the studio one day and I went into a whole concept. I didn’t think it would become a good, big record like it’s turning into right now, but it’s crazy because that’s how it really came about. It wasn’t supposed to be serious and now it’s serious.
It’s funny that you work with Wayne, who says that he’s addicted to syrup, while you don’t even drink.
I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. I’m a straightedge rapper. It’s crazy because I’m around that all the time, the smoking and the drinking and all that. I choose not to.
You’re in an industry where your morals could be tested every day depending who you’re around. Is it ever difficult sticking to your guns?
It comes along with you being an individual. A lot of people come to the game and they’re not ready. You have to be built and you have to be ready. My cousin prepared me for this lifestyle and he is now from when he was bringing me on tour. It’s crazy. You definitely just have to be a solid individual and just be ready for it. It’s always peer pressure around, always. But I don’t let it get to me though.
What can you tell us about your debut album No Introduction?
I feel like I don’t need an introduction. I feel like I got all this stuff. That’s why I decided to name my album No Introduction, because when I come out, I don’t feel like I need anybody to introduce me because I feel like the world already knows who I am. I’m the most famous unknown artist in music right now. That’s why I decided to name it No Introduction. I’m working with a dude named Stress out in Philly and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy is on the album. Travis is on the album. I got an artist named Gata on my label GED, Inc. who’s on the album and I got Lil’ Wayne on the album. Basically I just kept it all in the family and I just made a good, solid album. I was just in the zone and I just kept it all in the family. That will be out June 10.
What kind of potential does No Introduction have?
Oh, it has a lot of potential because one, it’s different. My image is a little different and me being younger, there’s not a lot of young people coming out. Right now it’s just a real good time for me to come in. And when people hear “Coconut Juice”, they’re going to wonder about the rest of the album. I’m going to release some other tracks. I’m actually going to do a mixtape every tenth of the month until my album comes out. My album comes out June 10. I’m about to do a Young Money mixtape. I want people to hear it. I want people to hear all the different types of styles that I have. They’re going to want to buy the album to hear all the different kinds of styles I have on there. I think the people are going to be interested.
What kind of work do you have ahead of you to make sure No Introduction is a success?
I’m going to be dropping the mixtapes, the No Introduction: The Series, every tenth of the month until the album comes out. I’m going to be going on a college tour with Kidz in the Hall. I’ll be on tour for a month and I think I’m going out either on the Warped Tour or with Wayne in May. I’m just going to make people feel like they’re with me on that journey until the album comes out. That’s what Rick Ross did, dropping all those YouTube videos and his own songs, making himself real visible and doing a lot of his own promotion, which is definitely going to make it bigger when the label does their own promotion. People have to do something different these days and it’s crazy. I feel like I had a lot of time to sit back and see what people want and see what a lot of big artists did that people don’t want. I just feel like I took lessons from everybody from Wayne to Fall Out Boy and I put it all on my album and in my notebook.
When you’re on tour, do you get a lot of love from the rock crowd?
At first, I didn’t really realize if they were or not because when I go onstage, I don’t even care if the crowd be feeling me. I just go hard. I think once the people got to know who I was, see, a lot of people at first messed with me because of who I was, not because of what I did. They would just throw me tracks. But once I came out onstage and the people felt my energy, there was no way you could turn me down and boo me. And at a concert, you can’t really soak up all the lyrics. It’s basically just stage presence. I’m real good. I’m real big on stage presence and performance. I want to give the people something every night and then they go home and they get on their MySpace and talk about what songs they like. It’s crazy. I think I have a bigger rock/pop fanbase than a hip-hop one right now because that’s where I started. Rock fans are always going to be more for the live show. They don’t like commercial rapping, but I’m coming with something different. That’s what I’m doing – putting out something different. People don’t really have no choice. They’re going to either hate it or love it.
Would you rather have the rock fanbase or the hip-hop fanbase?
It doesn’t matter. There’s hip-hop people out there that support and there’s hip-hop people that bootleg. There’s rock people that support and there’s rock people that bootleg. It doesn’t really matter to me. As long as you support and you don’t bootleg, it don’t matter who you are, as long as I got your support.
What’s the next move for Tyga?
I’m about to get ready to go on this tour. I’m going to drop this mixtape. MTV’s Spring Break should be coming out soon. I did a performance out there. That was my first time. Keep in mind, these people haven’t even heard “Coconut Juice”. I did that before the radio had it and before it was on video. It was crazy. People were singing the hook by the third time. That was the first time I performed it there and that’s going to be coming out next month, so make sure you look out for that. That’s going to be big. I got a lot going on right now, man. Just stay tuned.