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Unlike many of your peers, you use your real name to perform – does that make it difficult to keep your personal and professional lives separate? It’s a little harder; my real life intertwines with my stage life more often than a normal person, who may have an alter ego to give them that sense of protection at times. I find it hard to draw the line.

How do you feel when people draw lines and place you in a box? People always want to rank something because it justifies where they rank in their own lives. Someone just really talented in any respect, that should just be enough, right?

As a songwriter, the added income can be very lucrative; what is the process – from jotting down an idea to getting paid? You may not see your first cheque for months, but it might be a very nice cheque when you see it. You get paid quarterly with publishing; you got to let it generate. [Also artists make money] from live shows, merchandising, branding yourself and getting endorsements. At the height of Ja’s [Rule] career, he was making close to $200K a show. Ultimately my goal was never to make money, so it’s not really my strong point. I never really talk about how much I got.

Can you share with us what your first real splurge was when you started making money? A really beat-down 1986 Chevrolet car. I had some grip pliers on the damn window rollers because it didn’t have a frickin’ handle. Nobody was going to let me get a fancy car to learn how to drive. I spent money on the sound system; that shit looked like a piece of crap but the sound was Grade A [laughs]. And then after that I think I spent a lot of money on speeding tickets!

So you love fast cars, how about fast women? Or are you man who likes to woo?

I think honesty is the new romance. You just got to be about that, to get that. In fourth and fifth grade, when I didn’t have any fucking money at all, I just had to make a gift, make a card or something like that.

What about when you were older, any lavish gift-giving? A car – that was for my mamma. I am a bit frivolous – I think a lot of girls might tell you I’m cheap, but I have my vices in cars and sneakers.

Has your upbringing influenced the way you regard money? I’ve had the opportunity to have

access to so much more information when it comes to finance; [my parents] did the best they could. My father was from the housing project in New Orleans, worked his way up to college, and he was murdered, far too young. My mother graduated at the same college where they met and moved up to Atlanta for better opportunities after my father passed. He really didn’t have anything to give me but a bunch of memories through other people of what once was. When my grandfather died, he gave me part of the house, but it was destroyed in [Hurricane] Katrina so it then cost money to fix; it’s crazy.

As the eldest of your brothers, do you feel a responsibility to be a strong role model? Completely, I see how smart they are, how brave and charming they’ve become, and it may be because of me. I can tell they watch me. Not just them, but the kids I’m going to have, wanting what I’ll leave them eventually, to be more than I was born into. One of the greatest pleasures is to know that your siblings turned out all right; they ain’t a bunch of crazies.

In striving for better and from the relationship with your brothers, do you take a competitive approach in your career? Naturally, I think about everyone

who’s ever done this and I try to figure out where I fit, where I want to be and how I’m going to get there. When I work with Chris [Brown] or Trey [Songz] it’s so direct you can feel it in the air; but it’s good for us, I find a lot of fun in working with people who are young like me, like [Lil] Wayne. It’s easy to diss someone with words; it’s a lot harder to kill them with talent – you know what I’m saying. I used to be like, ‘I don’t give a fuck’, but in retrospect there’s enough room for all talented people to get their shine.

Does the endless promotion suck some of the passion out of the craft for you, honestly?

I’ve been through certain things, and if I give a little insight, then maybe it will help them discover what it is they are here for. I find it amusing when people are afraid to talk to me – I mean, I’m a cool guy, I’m approachable. What’s draining are the allegations you hear and the perceptions you face.

Isn’t that just a side effect of what you do? It’s all a part of the big pie. I wouldn’t trade the joy I get; the good always outweighs the bad by far.

Follow Lloyd on Twitter @Lloyd_ YG or visit www.younggoldie.


Interview: Catherine Ababio Photography: Helen Richardson

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