For those who might not be familiar with you, can you start off by telling us who YB is and where you’re from? YB is short for Ya Boy. I come from the Bay Area, San Francisco. I started when I was 17 under San Quinn and Done Deal Entertainment. I’ve got two cousins that are pioneers in the Bay Area rap scene – San Quinn and Messy Marv. I’m just that young wild nigga. Your first record “16’s With Me” was a hit. How did it feel to be sitting in the room with all those DJs as a youngin’ tryin’ to get on and you played your record and they just went wild? It was a good feeling. I really didn’t expect it to blow up how it did. Everything that happens in my life, to me, is a surprise. The results always end up ten times better than expected, and that’s a good thing, because I’m always surprising myself. When I was trying to get myself heard there were a million other people trying to get heard, but the people chose me. I remember when they first played the song on the radio and played it like eight times in a row. Big Von played it back to back and people kept calling me saying, “You’re on the radio!” It was the best feeling ever. That was my first taste of stardom back then. Today you have one of the hottest songs on Power 106 in Los Angeles, so that has to be a blessing. How does that feel to be getting love on Power 106 as a Bay Area artist? That’s huge. It’s so hard to get played and even get one spin on L.A. radio, so for me to be in heavy rotation and have the number one song on L.A. radio, that’s crazy. There was a lot of controversy behind the record “We Run L.A.” What is it about, from your perspective? The song was paying homage to the city of Los Angeles. I moved out here when I was young. I lived out here for a few years and I see where it’s going. It’s a beautiful city. I see a lot of people – models, movie stars, actresses, actors – coming out here trying to make it. It was basically just a theme song for them. I was paying homage to the city sort of like Tupac did with “To Live And Die In L.A.” A lot of people misunderstood the concept at first. When I heard people talking about you in the streets I didn’t understand why that was the song they were upset about, because it’s a feel-good song. Some people want to turn something like that into something negative, and it just shows their ignorance. You’re still running with The Game too, right? Yeah, he’s a busy guy and I’m a busy guy, but it’s respect there. I fuck with him and he fucks with me. I’ve got my own thing going. I felt like it helped my career a lot when I started fucking with The Game. I was fresh out of the Bay and I had no idea what the industry was like or anything as far as independent. Fucking with him helped me learn the ropes a little bit. I just soaked it up and it helped me a lot.
What features do you plan on having on your debut album? I’m good with me and ‘Kon, honestly, and the big homie E-40. I need the world to hear me on this breakout album. I’m gonna kill them. I might need that D-Ray hook; I hear D-Ray is doing hooks around the Bay now. You’re a fool. (laughs) But seriously, what do you say to the young kids that are trying to be a rock star too? Just be yourselves. Don’t be a rapper just because you see rappers with girls and money. It’s not meant for everybody to do it. This game is really hard, and it’s not for everybody. If this is what you really want to do, stick to it, but be yourself. That’s what I would tell them. It’s hard to trust people in the industry. How would you tell them to sort out the good from the bad? Just be careful of the people you have around you. A lot of people are in it just for themselves. Make sure the people that are around you are here for you and not just to help themselves. Make sure they have your best interests in mind too, cause a lot of people will fuck you off just to get themselves on too. There are a lot of sharks in the water. What’s been your most memorable moment so far in the rap game? I have a lot of them, but probably the most memorable was when I performed at Paris Hilton’s house. I was on some rock star shit. She took my chain off and put it on her. She was on stage with me. I didn’t even know her at that point, but she knew my song. She was a fan so she wanted me to perform. She’s got a little baby club in her house with a stage, a stripper pole, and all that. Your family is pretty well-known in the Bay Area. They didn’t really want you to become a rapper, right? Yeah, when I was like 10, I told [Messy] Marv I wanted to be a rapper. He was like, “Nah, lil nigga, go to school. You don’t wanna be a rapper,” and I was mad at him. But I see why he said that, cause it’s a fucked up game. He was looking out for me. Then I started hanging with my cousin Bailey, and he was poppin’ with Big Rich and Don Torriano. They had a group called Fully Loaded. We would be on the karaoke machine every day. He gave me the name Ya Boy. I wanted to be a part of their group Fully Loaded, but Bailey was like, “Nah, nigga, you need to go solo. You’re gonna get more money by being solo.” I was scared to death of going solo, but fuck it. It all worked out for the best. Is there anything else you’d like to say? Holla at Ya Boy. Konvict West, we’re the only things poppin’. Believe that. How can someone get in touch with you? If anybody needs to get in touch with me about verses, shows, or anything like that, hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to check out some of my music go to YouTube.com/officialYaBoyTV or hit me up at Twitter.com/YBTheRockstar or Myspace.com/YaBoy. //
What about Kevin Federline? A lot of people thought that was crazy when you two started being seen together. How did that come about? I was living in Malibu, and Kevin Federline and Britney Spears were also living in Malibu so we were like neighbors. Of course I was in the studio out there tearing shit up, and there’s nothing but rich and famous people out there. Everybody that went in the studio was just blown away by my music, and he was one of them. That’s just my pa’tna, nothing else. Whenever I go fuck with him or we go out to eat or something and Britney was around, the paparazzi would start snapping away and I would be the only little hood nigga in these USA Weekly and OK! Magazines. People were wondering what the hell was going on. But we were just neighbors though. That’s what introduced you to the Hollywood lifestyle. Yeah, that’s when I started turning into the rock star. I come from the hood so I’m comfortable being around the hood elements, but at the same time I’m able to mess with the crossover crowd. I feel like all of that is helping me develop into the artist I am today. How did you end up signing with Akon? Akon was just hearing my name everywhere he went. People kept talking about “Ya Boy” and he was like, “my boy who?” (laughs) My pa’tna does security with Akon and they were in Miami. He was hearing my name buzzing all the way in Miami so I flew out there and was in the studio with him for about two days. He was like, “Yo, this kid is crazy.” He talked about signing me, and then we fell out of contact. Two years later, [my song] hit the radio. See, I was just buzzing on the streets two years ago. Now I’m buzzing on the radio. Then we found each other again and we just inked [the deal] right then and there. So you know, it was supposed to happen. It was meant to be. Ya Boy, Konvict West, Kon Live.
Ya Boy (right), who recently signed with Akon’s label Konvict, takes a picture with his new boss on the set of a recent video shoot (Photo: D-Ray)
OZONE WEST // 13