Hit music producer DJ Mustard has been on the road since mid-April with fellow West Coast rapper YG on the aptly-named “My Krazy Life” tour. The two began making music together years ago, and their explosive indie success led to both of them signing with major labels.
Opportunities for the DJ/producer further snowballed in 2011 with the release of Tyga’s “Rack City”—a Billboard chart-topper and double platinum single. The next year, DJ Mustard produced the club bangers “I’m Different” by 2 Chainz, and “R.I.P.” by Young Jeezy, further increasing his visibility, and artist demand for his beats.
Other hits from the winning producer include “Show Me” by Kid Ink featuring Chris Brown, “Na Na” by R&B crooner Trey Songz, platinum single “My N****” by YG featuring Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan, “Paranoid” by Ty Dolla $ign featuring B.o.B, and "Up Down (Do This All Day)" by T-Pain featuring B.o.B.
DJ Mustard also executive produced YG’s newest album, “My Krazy Life,” and is gearing up to release his first album under super label Roc Nation.
Before his April 27 show at Irving Plaza in New York City, I spoke with the talented 23-year old about working with artists outside of hip-hop, and how he feels about the term “ratchet.”
BROWNIE MARIE: You’re less than halfway through the “My Krazy Life” tour... what do you like about being on the road doing shows versus being in the studio and doing your regular grind?
DJ MUSTARD: I got a studio on the bus so when I’m not home... I do a 30 minute set before YG, then I do an hour set with YG right after my set. I enjoy it; it’s like having another house. You can go into the studio whenever you want, you’re controlling everything. I got my own bus, I’m good.
You’re a young guy from L.A., going all around the country doing shows. Who do you take with you on the road?
I take my road manager, tour manager, keyboard player, cameraman, my security...
Ok, so regular people. You don’t have some huge entourage of friends and cousins.
Hell naw. I don’t like people like that to be all around me because it adds too much bulls***.
You’ve had such success as a producer, but was there a point when you wanted to do something else?
Producing was never the plan. DJ’ing was the plan. At first I wanted to be a club DJ, mixtape DJ, like DJ Drama. I started producing and getting more into music, and I started really just sitting down and focusing, and realized that it’s more money in [producing], and I’m good at it, so maybe this is something I should do.
The word “ratchet” is used to refer to the type of music that you make, and you’ve used that term in different interviews. Do you feel that the term “ratchet” diminishes what you do or downplays it [musically]?
People named my music that. I got that [term] from Lil Boosie. I don’t even know where he came up with it from, but that’s where I got it from. ‘We all got some ratchet in us,’ that’s what he used to say. “Ratchet” can mean a lot of things... “ratchet” can mean good, “ratchet” can mean bad. When I first started using it, people just started connecting my music to that.
I do everything, honestly... I don’t just do ratchet [music]. I got some other s*** that’s way different than rap. I do a lot. [I’m working with] Rihanna... it’s crazy, it’s different... it’s nothing that you’ve ever heard me do. But I don’t do that [often] because nobody asks me for that kind of stuff. They want the regular, typical, Mustard. I’m on to doing different things. I’m interested in doing different things. There’s a lot of people producing doing the same s*** that I was doing three years ago, or two years ago. I’m on to some other s*** already.
Both you and YG and have been referred to in the media as the West Coast’s saviors, and people are saying that you’re bringing attention back to the West Coast as in its heyday. Do you feel pressure like you have the West Coast on your back, or do you not really take it seriously when the media publishes things like that?
Ain’t no pressure with me. I don’t got no pressure. I’m taking it day by day. I’m not rushing it. They compare us to [Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg] because they had a friendship. [YG and I] have the same friendship. We’re really boys and we make music together. That’s why they compare us to that. You can’t say it’s another Dre or another Snoop, because they’re living legends. We gotta be YG and Mustard. People compare us to them because of the friendship. Snoop said that, so we’re just following along.
You mentioned DJ Drama... who are some other DJs and producers that you look up to?
Lil Jon, Manny Fresh, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Drama, Cannon... Don Cannon is my favorite club DJ. I put my money on Don Cannon. He’s better than a lot of these n****s. A lot of people don’t understand. Him and DJ Irie—that’s my n**** too, he’s hard as hell. Those are the ones that I listen to.
I’ve interviewed a lot of artists lately that are independent, and they’re touting the benefits of doing things yourself. What are some of the benefits, on the flipside, of going with a major [record label], and why did you make that decision?
They got more money. They got all the money. You making hit records, you shouldn’t be worried about it. I get it—you don’t want to split your money. But you can’t do everything by yourself. You can do that independent s*** as long as you want but I don’t want to be alone. I want a team behind me. I’d rather have a strong team than all these people that... The only independent artists I see that are really making noise are Nipsey [Hussle], Tech N9ne, Tyler [The Creator]... I don’t even think [OFWGTKA] is independent though. They might have an independent label but they’re still signed.
They have a distribution deal.
That s*** don’t count. You’re not doing it alone.
What about the level of control that you have over your music?
I got all the control. If you do music, you should never go into a situation where you going to let somebody change how it got you there. You can’t get signed or go [to a label] where people are going to have total control over you and tell you what to do because, at the end of the day, you’re the one that created the [product] for them to even think about signing you.
You have your first album under Roc Nation coming out this summer. What’s the name of the album?
I got the name but I ain’t telling nobody because I ain’t dropping it yet. Album coming this summer though. It’s going to be real classic. I might drop my album like Beyoncé on everybody. F*** around and do some revolutionary s***.
[NOTE: DJ Mustard announced via social media on 4/28 that the name of his album is "10 Summers."]
What about features?
We got 2 Chainz, Ty Dolla $ign, Nipsey, YG, TeeFlii, all of my camp that’s from L.A. We got a couple other people... trying to keep it under wraps though.
What do you want to tell your fans?
You can do anything that you want to do, because three years ago I didn’t have s***. You can do anything, you just gotta be focused and put your mind to it, and don’t let nobody steer you the wrong way. Just be you.
YG's "My Krazy Life" Tour with special guest DJ Mustard culminates June 1 at HOT 97's Summer Jam. For tickets and tour dates in Ohio, Indiana, Nevada, and California this month, visit Ticketmaster.com.