mustard ROC

DJ Mustard's rise just keeps on going. The L.A.-based producer behind hits like Tyga's "Rack City" and YG's "My Hitta" has been on the front lines of the ratchet music scene for a minute now, and he's finally getting a lot of the shine coming his way that he's deserved for a while. With YG's major label debut My Krazy Life due out on Tuesday (March 18)—which was almost entirely produced by Mustard—the big man behind the scenes sat down with XXL at SXSW to talk about making the massive single "My Hitta," why My Krazy Life is this generation's The Chronic, and his own album that he's working on this year. —Dan Rys (@danrys) 

XXL: How's SXSW going for you?
DJ Mustard: This shit's cool, man. I just got here late last night. I was supposed to get here at 8, but I had to get a haircut. Missed two flights, and I didn't even get the haircut.

YG's album is coming out on Tuesday. What was the process of creating that like?
It was fun. It's like working with one of your cousins, or your brother or some shit like that. We was just having fun, man. And with working with your cousin, it's not like working with someone you don't know. With a dude you wouldn't know, like, I probably couldn't tell you, "Yo, the song you just did was horrible," because you'd probably take it a certain way. But if I was your cousin, you'd probably be like, "Hey, look, shit's wack, what are you gonna do." 'Cause I'm already your cousin, see what I'm saying? So it's shit like that. We're like family. I feel like we came together with a classic album.

Was there a moment in the studio where you realized you had something special on your hands with this album?
I want to say when the album was all the way done, we didn't let it get to us until the album was all the way done and we were sequencing it. At that point we were like, "Damn, we just made a great album." Like, "Damn, we did it."

What would you put the album up there next to, in terms of classics?
Like The Chronic, really. For sure. It's like our generation of The Chronic, you know what I'm saying? This is Snoop and Dre all over again.

When you go to craft a beat, what's the first thing that you look at?
It can be anything as far as just one sound, and I can go from there. But with me and YG, he could rap a hook, and I could make a beat around it. Ten minutes, we done. Like "Left Right" started like that. "My Nigga," was, I played him the beat and was like, "Remember that Wayne song? That he did on the Mike Jones beat? You should do a song like that." We forgot about it. So I was going through beats in Atlanta for his album, I played the beat and I was like, "Man, you should do that." Rich Homie Quan walked in and YG was like, "Why don't you have him do it?" So we loaded it up, he did it, and it was that fast. And we weren't even thinking the record was gonna be what it was.

So Quan was just there? He just walked in randomly?
Jeezy brought him over. We didn't even know who Rich Homie Quan was; he was from Atlanta, so their music gets to us late. So we were cool, we were just like, "What's up?" We just started working, man.

You had told XXL that the intro on My Krazy Life is one of your favorite tracks you've ever done.
Yeah, yeah. We would call that extra loud. It's real bangin', it's some crazy shit. I didn't even like that shit at first. I made a beat and I left. I made a beat, I had a flight and I left, and when I came back, YG had the song, and shit was crazy. So he actually made the beat better, just rapping and doing whatever he did. He made the beat better. I didn't like it, but when I heard him on it, I was like, "Damn, that shit hard."

When you first started producing, was there a moment where you realized, "I can make it"?
Probably after "Rack City." After "Rack City," I was like, yo, it's really time to get serious about this shit. People are gonna have to take me seriously now.

What was the difference in your life before that song as opposed to now?
I was just broke, man. Broke as shit. I used to drive my mom's fuckin', Ford Escort or somethin', it was like a wagon, a champagne colored wagon. My mom used to let me drive it, and that was it. I used to live with YG. It was all bad. And then when that song came out, everything just turned around.

What do you got coming up?
I'm doing my album right now. I'm not gonna say what's the title or when it's gonna come out or anything. But I'm also doing a Brisk Bodega series throughout the summer.