With My Krazy Life, YG scored one of the best albums of 2014, a vivid depiction of gang life in South Central Los Angeles. All along, however, the Compton rapper wanted to go deeper, adding visuals to create a 30-minute short film, Blame It on the Streets.
"We knew we wanted to do a movie when My Krazy Life came out, but we didn't have no time," says the 24-year-old, slightly exhausted from a whirlwind of events that included an American Music Awards performance with Fergie and a star-studded premiere at the Chinese Theater in downtown L.A.
YG co-wrote the Blame It on the Streets screenplay with Darryl "Lucky" Rodgers, drawing inspiration from two My Krazy Life tracks: "BPT," about the rapper's entry into the Piru Bloods, and "Meet the Flockers," which describes his experience as a house burglar. "It's a group of your homies, so it's a flock of y'all going out lurking, looking for some shit to rob," he explains. "That's why we call it flocking. I'm basically showing you the life behind those songs, you feel me?"
Rodgers co-directed the film with Alex Nazari, and the dialogue sounds effortlessly casual – as if the characters are just kicking it in front of the camera.
"The movie is basically just my life in the streets, and it's like we're just chilling," says YG. "We ain't even really focused on doing no negative shit." He then describes the first scene in the movie: "A homie, he pull up to a homie up in the car, and they have a little convo. Then some people we don't really fuck with, we already have issues with, they roll up and start shooting at the homies. So since the homies got shot at, they going to shoot back. That's basically what the movie's based off of. It's, like, reactions and shit, showing you why shit happen, how shit happen."
There are two more "reactions" in the three-arc flick: Next, YG and his associates attempt a home invasion, and in the third and final scene, they bump into one of the dudes that busted shots at them in the first. "The movie turned out A-1. It turned out better than I thought it would," YG says proudly.
Meanwhile, the accompanying CD includes a live performance of My Krazy Life's "BPT," a remix of "Bicken Back Being Bool" featuring West Coast vets DJ Quik and Mack 10 and new cuts like "If I Ever," "2015 Flow" and "G$FB," short for "Get Money, Fuck Bitches." Then there's the Neighbourhood's "remix" of "Me and My Bitch."
"I'm happy to have people from that side of the industry fuck with my shit," YG says of the Ventura County, California, alt-rock quintet. "Rock groups, they last for a long time. So for me to have a rock band behind me or supporting me, that's a blessing."
Shooting took place over six days in August at locations in East L.A., Gardenia and Baldwin Hills – but not Compton. "The city of Compton, they won't let you get permits," he says. "Well, they wouldn't let me get permits, so we just filmed other places in L.A. I've filmed a lot of my videos in Compton, but filming a movie, we really can't do it because the police will come and shut you down."
The finished product harks back to the golden age of the straight-to-video hip-hop flick, a micro-genre where crucial depictions of inner-city life jostle uncomfortably with crowd-pleasing scenes of sex and violence. The rapper cites Snoop Dogg's Murder Was the Case and Jay Z's Streets Is Watching as direct inspirations and hopes that like those past films, Blame It's appeal won't be limited to those who can relate to its hard-knocks story.
"For the people who know nothing about that lifestyle, or don't live that lifestyle, won't live that lifestyle, they just have to treat the movie like a piece of art," he says. "And don't try shit at home."