The L.A.-centric jerkin’ phenom has produced its share of homegrown high school stars in record time, but none has come to symbolize the movement’s independent, entrepreneurial spirit more than Compton’s YG. His signing to the Island Def Jam Music Group, and the June 9th iTunes release of “Toot It and Boot It,” YG’s Def Jam debut single, is a musical and cultural breakthrough.
YG – that’s short for Young Gangsta (aka Keenon Jackson) – has brought attention to his music with a fierceness reflective of his tattooed physique. “His skin [is] inked up with Polynesian intricacy: tribal designs, to foot-long crucifixes, to the names of the fallen,” said L.A. Weekly magazine, which called him “jerkin’ music’s progenitor.” YG’s well-traveled MySpace website – http://www.myspace.com/yg400 – has amassed over 2.1 million profile views, with three of its tracks logging more than a million plays each.
Already declared to be “an anthem out here on the west coast, huge in the clubs” by Power-106 DJ Felli Fel and supported by Power’s DJ Carisma “loved the song soon as I heard it” and the programmers at LA’s KIIS-FM, “Toot It and Boot It” is now spreading across the Rhythmic radio landscape, pocketing airplay in Riverside, Oxnard, Palm Springs, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Denver, Knoxville, and beyond, in just its first week out.
On June 19, thanks to Power-106 program director and early supporter EMan, YG will be joining an all-star, heavy hitting line up (Ne-Yo, Drake, Snoop Dogg) as he performs “Toot It and Boot It” at the station’s Powerhouse 2010 concert.
YG’s career in music started four years ago as a sophomore at nearby Para mount High School. Someone had dissed him in a song and posted it on Myspace. YG thought it amusing that a person would do such a thing, but decided to respond as best he could through music, even though “I didn’t even know how to rap,” he told Urban Ink. Working in his bedroom with bare recording equipment – his laptop and a home mic – YG found his passion out of the blue.
Early recordings turned into mix tapes and club performances, as he found himself on the crest of the exciting jerkin’ movement. YG and two friends started promoting shows as the Pu$haz Inc. crew. The youthful crowds with their “skinny jeans, Mohawks, piercings, glasses, tattoos, skateboards, Vans, and a crisp tee the color of an equatorial fruit” (L.A. Weekly) were on the cutting edge of a new music that caught radio and record labels by storm. Max Gousse, Def Jam’s A&R exec in Los Angeles felt the pulse and brought YG to New York and showcased for LA Reid – who signed him on the spot and Def Jam had its newest star.
Working on the completion of his debut album for Def Jam, due for release later this year, YG is not looking back. “I’m about to bring the west back and the people can expect me to be always turned up, never turned down. I’m going all the way to the top. I’m taking over the east, the south and everything else.”