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Def Jam again sets its sights on Los Angeles: Compton's Y.G. signs to the major

YG2 Since Warren G’s “Regulate…G Funk Era” gave Def Jam/Rush Associated Labels a much needed hit in 1994, arriving just as reports of the label's insolvency surfaced, the New York-based powerhouse has largely steered clear of West Coast rap, hewing almost exclusively to East Coast and Southern artists like Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah and Method Man, as well as Young Jeezy. But as the legendary imprint prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the label has returned to the Southland, inking a deal with Compton’s Y.G., a rapper loosely affiliated with the jerkin’ movement, and one who has amassed an impressive regional following sans radio or commercial backing.

Best known for a series of scabrous sex-themed songs with unprintable titles, the 19-year-old has swapped gang life for the recording booth and hasn’t looked back, racking up enviable MySpace metrics: over 1.5 million profile views, a pair of songs with over 1 million plays each and a third approaching seven digits.

According to Max Gousse, the senior VP of A&R at Island/Def Jam who inked the rapper, the signing stemmed from a newfound emphasis on West Coast artists by label president/CEO L.A. Reid, as well as, of course, Y.G.’s skills and stage presence.

“It started with L.A. making the investment and commitment in bringing out three A&R’s to the West Coast. We’ve been out here searching for the cream of the crop,” said Gousse, who is best known for developing B2K. “I didn’t sign Y.G. because of his connection to the jerkin' movement. I signed him because he has a command of the crowd that reminded me of the classic MCs. You don’t see many young rappers with that kind of command, especially from someone who has never signed a record deal.”

For the intricately tattooed teenager, the signing represents both a form of salvation and the culmination of a long courting process.

“I decided to sign with Def Jam because that was the label that I’d been hearing about for my entire life. It’s a 100% blessing,” said Y.G., who has already achieved that first pro forma major label achievement — a track featuring Lil Wayne (“Heard Em All” remix). “It’s a crazy feeling. My little brother had a few of his friends from their jerkin' crew over the other night, and I was just playing around with them. Knowing that they looked up to me like that was an incredible feeling.”

Like many of the artists within the jerkin’ constellation, Y.G.’s music revolves around the day-to-day travails of the average teenager. Indeed, he attributes his heavy popularity to his relatability.

“My music is about my everyday life," he said. "That’s why I think so many young people like it — they can relate. It’s what they and their friends are going through every day — shopping, looking for girls, getting in and out of trouble.”

According to Gousse, a video is in the works for lead single, “Toot it and Boot It,” with Y.G.’s full-length debut tentatively slated for release some time in the first half of 2010.

--Jeff Weiss

Photo courtesy Y.G. / Island/Def Jam

Comments () | Archives (9)

im too old for the jerk movement,but i can feel tthe cactchy beats and lyrics.and props to the defjam family for signing a westcoast artist again.u guys continue to be @ the forefront of our culture of music.congrats to Y.G make it happen homie!!!!!!

I live in Richmond, VA and the jerkin movement is alive!!! Some people here think its "wack" but they really don't know what it is. Personally, i love jerkin' ..rejectin'...all of it. I can express myself.

Im glad to see one of the real pioneers of the new westcoast movement getting recognition im proud to say im ultimately satisfied with the help and promotions and marketing I put forth with Y.G as a growing city icon. God has truely blessed my bro with this deal and I pray he works hard everyday and reaches his full potential. Www.myspace.com/stargang07 for photos of what I do and how I helped in the success of YG, Vixens, Tay f 3rd, Cold Flamez, "the unofficial creaters of jerk" but I must add the "New Boyz" are def not the originators want more info on the truth behind jerking email me for a full story @ Twanxlahype@tmail.com or ask "Shariff Haasan" or any young artist about me!

Thankyou & God Bless...

Whats good yg keep it up my nigga we proud of you you & your music go hard We Gotta Colab Soon ...............Aight Gone Swag Skool In Session

Real Nice Def Jam -to get out to the west coast. Nice music comming threw on the eblast. Much love homie great sound, sounds catchy !
Def jam - check for us latin indie label repn Reggaeton/music urbana- The latin countries are merging with internete radio djs, and mcs to be hered , and discovered , with huge ringtones sells and mp3 downloads its a great place to be . Paro'n Records. check the emerging artist EL PONY-www.myspace.com/partonrecordsinc

i could have yg on repeat for the next 386328 years.
lovee his music :)

im from compton 2 i feel u bro stay droin stay gettin chiccs and i stay rappin i always listen 2 yo music bro when i heard u made it i thought i can do if u can do it

1993 mel-low from compton they put him with redman and the video got banned was the first to land a deal with def jam /ral


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