By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Lil Yee isn’t about the bubblegum rapping s##t, he spits the real. The San Francisco native prides himself in putting nothing but truth and authenticity in his lyrics, depicting his life story which includes growing up in the hood in Fillmore. This is that street s##t encompassing pain and emotion — but with a Bay Area flare.
Live 4 It, Die 4 It arrived in March of this year, with production from Zaytoven and guest appearances from Mozzy, E-40, FMB DZ, and a verse from the late Bay Area legend The Jacka.
AllHipHop: For those who don’t know, who is Lil Yee?
Lil Yee: I'm an upcoming artist out of San Francisco, California. Been doing my thing for about 3 years now. Just moving around, rubbing shoulders. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What were you seeing growing up in Fillmore?
Lil Yee: Everything. There's not nothing I didn't see: drug deals, shoot outs, etc. It's a good thing. Positive things too, not all bad. I done witnessed a lot, the ups and downs for sure.
AllHipHop: How long have you been rapping?
Lil Yee: I've been rapping since I was 23, so 3 years. I just turned 26 last month.
AllHipHop: What was that moment you picked it up?
Lil Yee: I was getting in trouble with the law and s##t, and I had twin daughters. Becoming a parent, that made me have to do something. I was always good at rapping. Always had an ear for good music so what I wanted to hear, that’s what I tried to make.
AllHipHop: On “Out Of Breath,” you talk about “losing focus, f##k this music s##t.” What the biggest struggle about being an independent artist?
Lil Yee: Honestly, it ain't really no struggle. You just gotta stay content and stay consistent. Really that's the biggest struggle, staying consistent. Knowing at the end of the day, if it’s not working out for you now, it's gon’ come sooner or later. It's all based on consistency. I learned that early ‘cause I dropped a good ass tape in July 2017. My first tape was from front to back hitters. I felt like I was going to take off, then I didn't get the response I wanted, but I didn't push like I wanted to. That b##ch boils down to consistency really.
AllHipHop: Who’s in your Top 5?
Lil Yee: I'm from the West Coast so Pac. Lil Wayne for sure. Future, Drake, f##king Meek. Nip in there too. It's not just because he passed away, the person. The music. I listen to everybody's music but I really follow the people, like Kevin Gates. He's really my number one because the person he is, he’s an inspiration. That's what I see myself being and becoming as I grow in the industry. I wanna be known as an inspiration.
AllHipHop: What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Lil Yee: Getting money. [laughs] I be doing all type of s##t man. All type of s##t. Sometimes, I be forgetting I'm a rapper. I still be doing all type of crazy s##t. [laugh]
AllHipHop: You didn't walk away from the streets yet?
Lil Yee: Yeah I did. I left that s##t behind me man. Too many cases and all types of s##t. I definitely left the streets behind me, that s##t’s dead. 2019, you can't be a gangsta. That s##t over with.
AllHipHop: I saw your post about Nipsey. How’d he impact your own career?
Lil Yee: It was big man. He had reached out through my folks. My boy Prezi, he brought us out at the Warfield in San Francisco. I went down there and chopped it up with him. He taught me some s##t. He’s like “you’re good enough to make it, you just gotta treat the rap like your girl. Treat it like your b##ch. You gotta talk to her every day. At the end of the day no matter how fly you is, if you’re not consistent in talking to your girl, someone else is going to talk to her.”
I took that into consideration. It was deep, it was simple. Something so deep and simple at the same time — his passing away, I’m like “man I gotta get on it.