Interview: Young L
Posted in Interviews
The "Enigma Theory" of Hip-Hop's most underrated producer/rapper
Young L has always been one of those artists--at least productionally--that seems so ahead of his time that it almost works against him. Like for me, when I look back at his catalog with The Pack circa 2006/2007, those beats are still to this day so next level. I appreciate them now more than ever, and in a way that I never would have fathomed six years ago. Over time, Young L has somehow managed to keep up that inherent level of virtuosity, perfecting his craft and continuing to grow both as a producer and a rapper. For someone who's known for creating some of the most futuristic, outlandish music hip-hop has ever heard, evolution is key. And with his newest project The Enigma Theory, the rapper/producer has done just that.
The Enigma Theory sees Young L in his most contemplative form ever. Otherworldly noises and geeked up rhythms are replaced with indie rock samples and synth heavy arrangements. Verses are highly reflective--fueled by inborn emotions that shine through on songs like gleam from a set of 100 spokes. Produced entirely by the man himself and featuring no guest spots other than the samples he uses, The Enigma Theory is refreshing in a time where collaborating is the norm, and becomes the truest example we have to date of Young L's talent.
DOWNLOAD: Young L - Enigma Theory (Mixtape)
Recently, we caught up with Young L and chopped it up with him about life, his motivation behind The Enigma Theory, and his instinctive drive to create.
What's up man, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Where are you coming at us from today?
Just over here at my new crib in Los Angeles, chillin’ out. I recently moved down here from the Bay so I'm still getting used to it all.
Well we're absolutely loving your new mixtape The Enigma Theory. Everything about it from the lyrics to the production feels like your best project to date.
Thank you man, I really appreciate that. It's like my whole life wrapped up into one project, so I'm glad people are feeling it.
What was your motivation behind creating The Enigma Theory?
A lot of it came from different experiences I was having at the time. I consider myself an emotional rapper, and all of my inspirations come from my emotions. On The Enigma Theory I take a lot of anger out on some of the tracks just because I had a lot of frustration and depression during that time period. Making the whole move from the Bay to Los Angeles was a major struggle for me emotionally, and that’s really what the tape is all about—my personal struggles.
And all in all my pure motivation behind The Enigma Theory was to make people think. I wanted people to feel me on a whole other level than they have before.
For us what makes this mixtape different from your past projects is the direction you went productionally. The Enigma Theory features a plethora of indie rock samples--bands like Wye Oak and Yeasayer to name a few. Are these artists you actually listen to regularly, or how did you go about finding them?
Man it’s crazy, because if I want to sample something now I go straight to iTunes. I'll search a band or group that I'm familiar with, and then through the "Listeners Also Bought" feature I'll stumble upon new artists that I find cool. I try to go really deep into iTunes’ catalog and find something that’s a little less heard of, and also represents me. I did this for Wye Oak and a few of the other samples I used on the mixtape.
So what is it about a certain song that makes you want to sample it?
The words and the way it makes me feel. If it makes me feel good in that moment and time, then I’m going to feel the need to sample it. Straight up, I have lists of songs that I want to sample that I just haven’t gotten around to using yet.
Your production style, at least in our eyes, has always been outside the box. But how have YOU seen your style evolve over the years—from the days with The Pack all the way to now?
Well when I was in The Pack, I was always having to please everyone at once. I had to make sure Stunnaman was feeling the track, I had to make sure Uno was feeling the track, I had to make sure Lil B was feeling the track, and I had to make sure I was feeling the track. So when you’ve got so many different people you have to please, It becomes hard. When I got to the point where I could let go of trying to please other people, it really allowed me to do projects like The Enigma Theory where I could just make it about me. Now when you do shit like that, you open yourself up to criticism. People can judge it, praise it, whatever, and I respect all the blogs and magazines, but at the end of the day I'm still going to be in my house at my computer with my keyboard making beats that I like.
How long have you been working on The Enigma Theory?
I started working on the project when I was out in Seattle visiting my grandfather earlier this year. My mom and I drove up there and the whole time I was seeing a lot of nature and a lot of stuff that I wasn’t used to seeing in LA, so it kind brought me into this whole new mental state. Also my grandfather is a scientist who actually taught at UC Santa Cruz, so he’s like a genius and has always inspired me. But anyways there was just so much life out there—not life as in like a person but life in nature—and that really influenced me to create. I had my laptop with me at the time but didn’t have my keyboard or speakers, so I was doing everything off my little ass iPod headphones. But being in that situation I felt like I created something out of nothing, and I couldn’t just let it be a few tracks. I knew it had to evolve into a real, full on project.
What's your day to day like? How often are you creating?
I try to start everyday off with the same routine. When I wake up the first thing I always do is light some incense just to have the aroma in my pad be cool, because the LA air can get sketch at times. Then my next step is to play some music to wake up to, and it’s almost never going to be rap music. I can never wake up on some rap shit because rap is basically motherfuckers telling you how to feel. I usually start my mornings off with some Phil Collins, Bob Dylan, Beatles, stuff like that. All the shit that I grew up on. After I do all of this I'm usually in the right state of mind to take on the rest of the day.
As far as how often I’m creating, it’s really whenever I feel like I need to get something off my chest. Or when I have a chip on my shoulder for whatever reason. That’s when I feel like creating. I’ve found it easier for me to describe my feelings to people through music rather than talking to them. It’s a weird type of connection I have with music, where music will connect me directly to other people. It’s just something I’ve always had.
Who in your mind is changing the game right now in music?
Awe man, I may get some heat for this, but I feel like Skrillex is really changing the game. I mean for the simple fact that there are so many people out there trying to do what he’s doing, and so many others who hate on him. But like no one can really say he’s not putting out basically the hardest shit that’s ever been heard on human ears. It's crazy.
Haha, I never imagined you a dubstep fan. Then again you do sample Joker on the track "V.IL" off The Enigma Theory, right?
Yep I did sample Joker, he’s another one of those guys changing the game. I didn’t actually include his name in the production credits because I had honestly forgot who's sample it was when I was creating the tracklist, so out of respect of him I left it out. But it’s funny because I actually made that beat while on a plane. I was sitting next to my homeboy Dorell Wright who plays for the Warriors, and I was like, “Yo I’m about to make this beat," and he was like "Go in bro!" So I just took the Joker track and flipped the drums just a little and threw some other modulations over it and it ended up coming out pretty cool.
And also I have to say, “dubstep” is just a word to me. Everyone wants to hate on “dubstep”, or say that “dubstep” is going out of style, but like it’s just a word. The word can go out of style but the movement behind that type of music is going to continue forever. And right now it’s going off because that’s the trippy shit that motherfuckers want to hear.
What does Young L have in store for the future?
I'm going to let this mixtape settle for a while before starting anything else. But ultimately the next move will be LGND. It’s going to be legendary. I have a lot of lyrical hitters behind me that really have a lot of shit to say and I’m going to give them the opportunity. I'm working as the captian of the LGND movement.
Thanks again for talking with us man.
Anytime. I salute y'all and what you're doing with LFTF. Keep putting on real shit.