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After featuring on tracks such as ‘Bedrock’ and ‘Roger That’ for his YMCMB label mates, not forgetting a standout verse on Chris Brown smash ‘Deuces’, Tyga (born Michael Nguyen Stevenson) became the one to watch. Fans eagerly awaited album Careless World: Rise of the Last King, and the Cash Money signee went to great lengths to ensure it didn’t disappoint. Tyga tells Flavour about Nas, Chris Brown and God...

‘I’m feeling so blessed and excited right now,’ says Tyga. ‘I’m glad my album is finally done and in stores. There are like, 22 songs on there. It sounds like a lot, but my fans have waited a long time for this album, so I didn’t want to short-change them.’

SHOWCASE ALBUM It’s clear Careless World isn’t just a rushed piece designed to appease industry execs and label bosses. With over 20 songs, some produced by Pharrell Williams, this passionate endeavour is Tyga’s showcase, proving himself to hip hop once and for all. And he isn’t the only enthusiast to let everyone know what he is capable of either. Nowadays, rappers classed as ‘old school’ are very selective as to who they give a co-sign or agree to work with in terms of younger or new generation rappers, so the fact that one of hip hop’s greatest – Nas – agreed to collaborate with Tyga on this album, speaks volumes in itself.

‘To work with Nas was amazing to me. I really never expected him to reach out to me. For him to reach out and say he was proud of what I was doing means a lot.’


GROWING UP FAST You could be fooled into thinking that Tyga must have had a great start in life to have come this far at just 21. However, it’s not the case. Raised without his father, while his mother was incarcerated just after he began high school, Tyga had to fend for himself and pursue his passion for music without their love and support.

‘The situation with my parents made me grow up a lot faster and deal with hardships on my own. It also motivated me and pushed me to really focus on what I wanted to do, which was music.’

But there was one family member aptly placed to help Tyga prepare for his career, and that was his Gym Class Heroes cousin, Travie McCoy.

LEARNING TO GRIND Taking Tyga under his wing and out on tour, Travie helped to mould his younger cousin into a star and also opened his eyes to the hard work that comes with being an entertainer.

‘I talk to him as much as I can,’ says Tyga, ‘but it’s hard as we are both working. When I first started touring and travelling, I was with him, so I learned a lot just being around him and on the road together – how to really grind as an artist. It’s always good to see him and his success, because I’ve been watching him from day one and vice-versa with me. I’m pretty sure he’s watching me too.’

CAREER UPS AND DOWNS Although he is in a great place at the moment in terms of his career, Tyga’s work is not without critique and he still comes under much scrutiny.

Attention, world...

Thank the heavens! We finally have a rapper from LA who isn’t brandishing the clichéd gang-banging, ‘gangsta rapper’ persona in our faces, most commonly exhibited while unsuccessfully trying to recreate what Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg did for West Coast rap back in the 90s. Instead, American rapper Tyga exudes a breath of fresh air into the stale and played-out hip-hop sound of LA, showcasing his talents as a gifted lyricist, able to cater to both male and female fans alike...

His worldwide smash ‘Rack City’ – which has now gone platinum – was deemed as lyrically poor by a few harsh hip-hop fans. We gave Tyga the opportunity to respond.

‘At the end of the day, “Rack City” is a party song. There is only so much you can say on a party song. There is a time and a place, ya know? There are songs where you go in and there are songs where you don’t.’

Another harsh criticism of the young rapper is that his album Careless World is mundane and repetitive. ‘If anything,’ he responds, ‘I would say the mixtapes are more of the same than the album is. The mixtapes I put out previously were all party songs. The album has much more of a balance. On the album I talk about love, success, all kinds of stuff... so I wouldn’t say it was repetitive. I don’t too much listen to what people say. I’m here for my fans, they appreciate what I do and I’m happy with that.’

THANK YOU GOD ALWAYS God is and has always been a very important and stabilising force in Tyga’s life. In fact, throughout the interview, when we congratulate him on his successes and achievements, his response is simply, ‘I’m more appreciative to God than anyone or anything else’.

Originally nicknamed ‘Tiger’ by his mother, Tyga reworked the spelling into an acronym, designed to permanently express his gratitude and indebtedness to God. ‘Thank You God Always’ has become his subliminal prayer and his permanent stamp relating to his spiritual connection to God.

Words: Trina John-Charles

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