How Def Jam Nearly Ruined YG’s Career Before It Even Began

01.06.16 11 months ago 6 Comments
YG Russell Westbrook

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Some of these record labels couldn’t get a clue even if Alex Trebek came to corporate and smacked them in the face with a blue screen. One such label is (surprise!) Def Jam, according to its former senior director of A&R, Sickamore. The industry exec stopped by ItsTheReal’s A Waste of Time podcast recently and, in the midst of explaining how he went from hustling bootleg CDs in Brooklyn to becoming an A&R savant, Sickamore revealed Def Jam almost torpedoed YG’s career before the rapper even got a chance to blow.

According to Sick, who served as both A&R and executive producer of YG’s My Brazy Krazy Life, Def Jam felt the Bompton rapper was working with DJ Mustard way too much and suggested he work with, wait for it — DJ Premier instead. He spilled, “Well, at first [Def Jam] was like, ‘Well you know, he’s doing too much work with DJ Mustard. We should get him in with DJ Premier or something.’That was a real thing.”

Knowing better, the young executive confessed he channelled his inner Dame Dash and unleashed on the label, “I was like, ‘What do you want–leave the hottest producer to go work with Premo?’ What are you? Out of your mind?’ I kind of blacked [out] in the meeting. I went too hard.”

Def Jam finally gave YG the artistic freedom he needed to create his 4.5 cig album after “My N****” became a hit, something they didn’t think was going to happen at all.

Sick explained, “When that record hit [Def Jam] didn’t really believe in the song because they felt like, ‘Who would play this on the radio? What would be the clean version? This is never gonna get heard. We like the song, but it’s not a single.’ It was a process of convincing everybody that it’s the single.” A process Sick says included getting two Atlanta rappers – Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan – on the record to help break it since Atlanta had the juice.

Check out the full conversation below.

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