By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Based in Atlanta but hailing from Chicago, Yung Gwapa is here to better himself and better the rap game.
After nipping old habits prior to going to jail such as smoking marijuana, the street rapper turned father is adamant on creating music to uplift the youth.
Using the same hard-hitting beats and raw lyricism, Gwap remains in the same lane he created for himself.
AllHipHop caught up with him in Los Angeles to discuss the state of hip-hop prior to jail, compared to now.
AllHipHop: You had a buzz with “Thick Cinderella” before you were locked up. Talk about your career then vs. now.
Yung Gwapa: Back then, when I first did the “Thick Cinderella” joint, that was one of my first records that caught a real buzz. I know I was more… how can I say it? Like right now, I don't smoke marijuana.
AllHipHop: You don’t?
Yung Gwapa: Not at all. I was more in the studio vibe, on a geek side getting high. It kind of makes you more creative. But as I’ve been not smoking so long, I picked up my work skills as they were, as if I was just high. We back on track with working in the studio and everything, but I kind of think it made me more creative. I was able to create and come up with records. I was trying to mix the music with what was going on at the time, but sometimes I’ll do a song that’s not really me. But at the end of the day, you got to entertain and give folks what they wanna hear, with what’s going on and stick to it.
That’s how I came up with that record, just trying to get in the lane with the popular stuff that's really not my style and not my music. That’s how that happened, and then I got into some little trouble, the buzz of the record kind of died down, etc. I just came back and started pushing a little harder.
AllHipHop: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from being in jail?
Yung Gwapa: That first of all, it’s definitely not a place for me. That’s not a place for nobody. There’s no women there, there’s no good food, there’s nothing going on that would want to keep you there. It kind of slowed my career down. It kind of lost me for a minute. It let you know who was who and who was really there for you. showed me who was who and who and was really there for you. It was a major setback. That was a big mistake. I never expect on going back to jail ever again in life. It’s not a place for me, period.
AllHipHop: In your opinion, how has the game changed? Is it harder to adjust?
Yung Gwapa: I mean, it’s not hard to adjust. Because I’m going to stay me, stay in my own lane. I created my own lane, I’m going to stay in it. The game has definitely changed because it’s not really too much about talent no more. It’s a lot of clout chasing going on. It’s more hip-hop, pop-ish. Hardcore rap is finding its way back. But right now, you could dye your hair red, you could dress weird, and you could get a buzz off that.
People get on Instagram, they do the most silliest stuff to get attention. It wasn't like that at first. You had to really know how to rap and be talking about something. It definitely changed in a major way, but I'm sticking to the script and staying in my lane with it. Delivering me and giving them me.
AllHipHop: The visual for “Stiff” is pretty personal. Talk about your mindstate in creating the record.
Yung Gwapa: How I go in the studio, I work kind of different and I work very fast. I create around one word, or I try to pick a story or just that one topic and just create around it. And it has a lot to do with the production, like the mood the beat puts you in.
I came up with “Stiff” because a lot of people were stiff on me, like the shoe gets on the other foot sometimes. It wasn’t like no get payback or anything, but I’m finna get stiff on these folks who were giving me a hard time. It’s been a lot of door closes in your face. There’s been a lot of people who don’t take you serious, so that’s really how the record came upon.
AllHipHop: What was it like filming and bringing those thoughts and feelings to life?
Yung Gwapa: It was enjoyable, I could say that. I shot the video in North Carolina. It was a spur of the moment thing. We were out there on promo, I hit the show. I like to shoot my visuals different cities, different states to build up the fan base. I'm from the hood, so I kind of adapt to that when I’m in different areas.
A lot of people rock with me. I hit some associates out there in Carolina, I was like “we gon shoot today.” It was really a last minute thing.
I got on Instagram, called up a cameraman, he hit me right back. He was like, “Man, I’ve been listening to your music forever, I want to work with you.” Gave me a super deal and we just rocked out like that. It came out pretty good.