Yung Berg Interview
|Next Project:||Look What You Made Me (August 12)|
|Twitter:||Yung Berg on Twitter|
|Website:||Yung Berg's Website|
At first, he was known only as “the rapper with the ‘Sexy Lady’ joint.” After several months in the spotlight, however, thanks to the Ray J collaboration, “Sexy Can I,” the listening public is finally getting familiar with the Chicago-born, Yung Berg.
Following the release of his introductory EP, “Almost Famous,” Berg patiently waited while his record labels straightened out their release schedule. Now, a little less than a year later, the 21-year-old rapper has been given an August 12 release date for his debut project, “Look What You Made Me.”
Heavily criticized online by hip-hop fans and media members alike for his hard imagine and ‘for the ladies’ material, Berg ignores all dissenting opinions and is only focused on pushing his current buzz single, “Do That There,” and the forthcoming album’s official single, “The Business.”
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” Yung Berg steps inside the booth to talk about being pigeon-holed, his disdain for bloggers, the possibility of recording an R&B album, and why he doesn’t need top-level production talent to make hit records.
Listen to the Interview
Yung Berg 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 the self-proclaimed “Prince of the Chi.” Looking to show the world what we made him later this summer, please welcome rapper Yung Berg – what’s up, neighbor?
Yung Berg: Yeah, yeah, yeah! It’s your boy Yung in the building! Z, what’s good, homie?
DJ Booth: Not too much man, how you doin’? You wrapped the album up – you gotta be excited about that.
Yung Berg: Aw, yeah, man. I’m dumb excited about the album bein’ done. It’s been a long time coming. I came in the game last year, put out my EP. We had a lot of success; I can’t be mad. Sexy Lady did a million ring tones, the EP sold a hundred thousand copies. But I just wanna give people my whole album, so they can see more than just one side of me, you know?
DJ Booth: Definitely. Last we spoke, Sexy Lady was poppin’ off all across the country. It’s a little less than a year later, and the much-talked-about debut LP that we just alluded to has yet to drop. Considering the immediate success that you saw with Sexy Lady, do you feel like the past twelve months have been a failure, because the album hasn’t dropped to this point?
Yung Berg: No, Z, not at all. If I was just stayin’ stagnant, than it might have been a failure, but like I said, I did a million ring tones, we sold a hundred thousand EPs. And not only that – it gave people time to grow on me. It gave me time to get ill and work with artists like Lil’ Wayne, and build my street presence up, and do other videos. And [it made me] really see how I wanted to launch my project. We had a whole bunch of singles that we were gonna go with after Sexy Lady, but then the label really got tired, and didn’t really know what to do. In the end, through God’s blessing - me and Ray J had already been tight, he gave me the Sexy Can I last year, when the Sexy Lady was poppin’, and I did it, and then they wanted to make it my single, but I was like, “Yo, if this is my single, I’m gonna be the sexiest man alive,” you know what I’m sayin’? I can’t go from Sexy Lady to Sexy Can I, even though they’re both huge records; I just didn’t want to be looked at like that, ‘cause I thought I’d be pigeon-holed, as far as what records I can make, and what’s believable for me to talk about. So we end up makin’ it both of our record, dually, and then now it’s like, f*ckin’ crazy – a million iTunes downloads, two million ring tones right now. So I just think that my setup is better now, because when I go on my promo run, I’ll be able to play six records that I dropped, that have been on radio, on regular rotation.
DJ Booth: There’s no doubt this record is insane, but when the two of you recorded it – honestly, be honest with me – did you think, “Okay, this is a number one record?” ‘Cause that’s where it’s at.
Yung Berg: I didn’t. Ray did though, honestly; from the gate, Ray said, “Yeah, this is a number one record. This record is goin’ number one; we’re gonna win a Grammy for this sh*t.” He was sayin’ that sh*t last year, and I was like, “Yeah, whatever, dawg, I’m gonna do it.” But it wasn’t like I didn’t think it was a huge record; I think I was just frustrated in my project, and what was goin’ on with me, and the limbo that I was in, so I couldn’t really see the big picture at that time, with the record.
DJ Booth: When it went number one, did he call you up and say , “I told you so?”
Yung Berg: I was with him. He told me to my face.
DJ Booth: Okay, that works out.
Yung Berg: [laughter]
DJ Booth: You already mentioned, you didn’t wanna go off of Sexy Lady and into Sexy Can I as a single. [Did] you feel any hesitation after listening to the final mixed and mastered version, before it was put out, “Do I wanna give up this single to Ray J? This could be my next big chance?”
Yung Berg: Nah, because I got hit records. I’m comfortable within myself and the music that I make. It’s a lesson, that I’m able to create big-sounding records without having it go to Timbaland – no disrespect – or Just Blaze or Kanye, you know what I”m saying? I just wanna start a new wave of music, a new industry. All my singles have been produced by myself, to this point, with the exception of Do That There, which was produced by Xcel. Sexy Lady and The Business [were] produced by me and Rob Holladay, a part of my squad, for Yung Boss Production, and I would just prefer to be viewed like that, rather than, “He’s on the song with Ray J.” I like coming out solo and dolo by myself, shocking people, and getting results. That’s what I did with Sexy Lady, and that’s what I’m gonna continue to do [for] the rest of my career.
DJ Booth: I spoke with Ray a few months ago, and he said that the Sexy Can I movement would become huge. It has become huge. I’m interested in knowing, what benefits might I reap, if I officially jump on this bandwagon, Berg?
Yung Berg: Oh, you’ll be able to ask all those questions: “Sexy can I hit it from the front, hit if from the back?” Your cock stock’s gonna go up, baby! Come kick it with us in a couple days on the tour, man – me and Ray J, we goin’ hard as you-know-what, out here on these streets. We goin’ hard.
DJ Booth: I listened to the new mixtape,Yung Boss or Die, Vol. 1. It’s clear that you’re leaning toward a more street-level sound, as evidenced by the current buzz single, Do That There. Do you feel that you have been unfairly pegged up to this point as a for-the-ladies-only type of rapper?
Yung Berg: Definitely, but it’s my job as an artist, and that’s why I create 24/7. I was in the studio till eight AM last night – we did eight songs in like six hours. It’s just my job to keep feedin’ the streets. I don’t want all my mixtapes to be street-oriented, because I’m not sayin’ I’m a killer and I kill people 24/7 on my records at all, but I [was] raised by nothing but goons and killers my whole life, so it would be wrong for me to alienate the whole hood where I come from, Chicago, and all the hoods across the nation I done been in, just to go strictly Sexy Can I. I’m not gonna take this away – my album, it’s full of big records, it’s full of hits, like Sexy Can I, Sexy Lady, The Business, Do That, and One Night with me and Trey Songz. I made sure my album was all big records that I’m gonna be able to get money off of. I produced [the majority] of the album myself. I wanted it to be like, I’m gonna get my big money off this, we’re gonna keep the big records on the album, we’re gonna keep the street records in the street where they belong, establish both fanbases at [the same time].
DJ Booth: Establishing both fanbases at the same time is obviously a difficult line to walk, and listeners of your music on our site have provided feedback on both sides. Do you feel they’re too critical because they’re thinkin’, “Okay, he can only do one of these two things – he can’t do both of them well?”
Yung Berg: You know what? I could really give a f*ck what the feedback is. Like the bloggers and all that sh*t, I don’t give a f*ck about all that. Because at the end of the day, if they not talkin’ about you in a negative way – they even hatin Jesus, you know what I’m sayin’? When Beyonce fell down those damn stairs, they stoned her! So I can’t be mad or upset or even feed into blogs when I know that obviously my music is good enough to get posted on these sites. If I wasn’t a relevant artist, then I would nowhere near be doin’ this DJ Booth interview right now. So as long as I’m relevant and I stay consistent with my records, that’s gonna overpower everything.
DJ Booth: Do you feel that there’s any aspect of your work – because you’re not a ten-year veteran – that you could improve upon? [I’m] talkin’ about delivery, vocals, speed, breath control – anything that you really try to focus on getting better at?
Yung Berg: Just being an all-around producer and makin’ big records. A lot of people don’t know that I write R&B. I got a joint on my album called Outer Space, where I’m singin’ the whole song. It’s nothin’ like [Sensual Seduction] - shout-out to Snoop Dogg, the record was crazy, but it’s a real R&B song. Omarion and everybody else is going to have to go back in the studio and get their sh*t together, ‘cause if the reception is received the way that it’s been being received, then it’s probably gonna be my single, and I might even come out with an R&B album – be on the look-out for it soon.
DJ Booth: What would you say is the primary difference when you’re crafting a record for yourself and it’s a rap record, as opposed to crafting a record for another artist, and it’s of the R&B variety?
Yung Berg: I don’t look at the process any differently, ‘cause, like, The-Dream, R. Kelly, and T-Pain really put me on, and once I studied them, I realized that R&B records are nothing but rap records with melodies. I just took that, absorbed all that energy and that good advice that they gave me. I don’t approach it any different. I think music is about feeling some way naturally. I don’t go in the studio and say, “Today, I’m gonna write a song for this person.” I just go in there, crank up the music, smoke my weed, and then something happens.
DJ Booth: Telling the world that you are a writer is certainly information that I know a lot of people have no clue about, so we’re definitely opening some eyes and ears. And speaking of opening some ears, I heard you were added to the Hot 97 Summer Jam lineup – congratulations!
Yung Berg: Yes sir, yes sir.
DJ Booth: We’re gonna have some fun here. If I gave you the opportunity, you could pick any five artists, dead or alive, to join you on stage the following year for a concert, who would you scoop up to join you?
Yung Berg: Biggie, Pac, Nas, Jay-Z… who’s may last one… I’d bring DMX out there with me, just [for] the relevancy.
DJ Booth: Good choices. By the end of this year you will have dropped your LP, you will have made your presence known all across the country and potentially the world – is there any one particular goal that you would like to have completed by December 31st?
Yung Berg: I just really wanna put my message out there. I think a lot of people look at me, the bloggers, and see me with six, seven chains on, and I’m just wildin’ out – it’s more than that, you know what I’m sayin’? You gotta look a little bit deeper into my history. Once you go into the DMX wave, and you go into all that history behind me, you find out I’m a writer and I’m a producer. This is the only message I wanna preach to the whole world, and the young kids comin’ up, ‘cause I feel like there’s nobody specifically talkin’ to the young generation – not necessarily givin’ them the dos and don’ts, but just some type of guidance at all. My thing is, be a “Yung Boss” – I want everybody in the world from f*ckin’ twenty-five and younger, to be a “Yung Boss.” So many people in this industry told me I couldn’t make it, I wasn’t gonna be this, I wasn’t gonna be that, I would never be successful, I’m too young, [I didn’t] have the right people around [me]. I know there are so many aspiring rappers, actors, producers, songwriters, period. People who just wanna be in the industry. All you have to do is stay focused on your dream and keep God first in your life, and you can be a “Yung Boss.” Doesn’t matter what race you are, what gender you are; don’t let anybody shatter your dreams. As long as you keep goin’, and strive every day, you will achieve. And that’s my whole message, ‘cause I’m living proof of that.
DJ Booth: If I get you a book deal, can I get fifteen percent?
Yung Berg: Yeah, definitely – let’s get it.
DJ Booth: Okay, ‘cause you have the material for a book deal; you’re already doin’ the writing thing.
Yung Berg: [laughter]
DJ Booth: Keep on strivin’ for success, Berg. Give everybody a link to your website or your MySpace page.
Yung Berg: Hit me up – it’s your boy Yung, myspace.com/yungberg, or you can check me out at yungberg.net, see where I’m comin’ next, and when the album’s coming’, maybe get some exclusives – you never know!
DJ Booth: I appreciate your time, for joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. I wish you nothing but the best of luck. August 12th, of course, your debut LP, Look What You Made Me, in stores.
Yung Berg: Good lookin’, bro.