Young Chop's career trajectory is far from stagnant. The Chicago native burst onto the scene in 2012 alongside Chief Keef, producing monster singles like "I Don't Like," "3Hunna" and "Sosa." The two artists were a winning team, essentially putting each other on the hip-hop map nationally. It was a relationship that was similar to Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Like the basketball players, when both artists are on the same page, they form a dynamic duo, hence the popularity of their earlier work. They are immensely talented, young and versatile. But instead of taking it to the next level, they had a falling out. Keef and Chop seemed to grow apart after the former signed to Interscope Records in 2012 and, supposedly, 1017 Brick Squad the following year.

When things went sour between the two in 2013, Chop was open about it, taking to Twitter to shut down any rumors that he and Keef were making music together. One of Chop's best qualities is his transparency. He isn't shy about telling you exactly what's on his mind and how he feels. For a while, the two childhood friends weren't working with each other at all. Chop went on to release his his solo project, Precious, in 2013, and start his own label, ChopSquad Records. He began producing for people outside of his label less and less, called out Kanye West for being a "user" and got into a fight with security at a release party for his mixtape. Chop was making headlines for the wrong reasons.

However, during the last couple of years, Chop was dealing with stuff behind the scenes that could've broken any man. He lost two of the most important people in his life: his grandmother and his mother. The latter was featured in a memorable segment in Noisey's 2014 documentary Chiraq. The video of Chop's mom driving her son around the Chi (Chop does not have a driver's license) was heartfelt and adorable. Under the worst circumstances, Young Chop was forced to mature and it showed in music.

"Before my momma even got sick, she was just telling me to keep going, just keep going no matter what," he tells XXL over the phone. "That fucked with in my head, she wants me to keep going crazy. She didn’t want me to feel bad about nothing."

While on the phone, Chop talks to XXL about his new album, King Chop, losing his mother and grandmother, making music with Chief Keef again and how he was a rapper before he blew up as a producer.

XXL: King Chop is out. Did that take long to make?

Young Chop: My third studio album, the process with this album is I had my mother in the studio with me. My mother just passed away. Within that process I was making this and said, “Let me make this third album with me officially rapping.” All my other albums I was more DJ Khaled.

When she passed away, I was like damn, at the end of the process this happen to me. I was like, Aight cool, I ain’t finna let it get to me. But this album is cold, man. I wish I could let you hear it. This shit is cold, man. I can’t explain it.

Wow, sorry for your loss man. How do you make music when something like that happens? Like what’s going through your mind?

What went through my mind? I don’t even know, man. Life hit me this quick like that. It made me go grow up even super harder. I’m 22 but it just shocked me like, damn. I took my momma everywhere with me when I was on the road. I let her travel with me to different places, interviews, all that. I lost my grandmother the year before that. I lost two important people in my life; I’m really numb to it. I felt it but its like, Shit, what’s next.

What makes this album so cold?

I’m going bar for bar on this one brother. I really took my time and worked on the production. Half of it is my production. I co-produced it with my engineer CBMIX. I had got a couple of beats from different people who are unknown producers like Young J, GhostRage. You probably heard of Chopsquad DJ, that’s our family on Chopsquad. That’s basically all I got. I took my time with this whole project. Three, four months I stayed in the studio. That’s why I feel like it’s hard. I’m independent, its hard, bro.

So happy you’re working with Chief Keef again. How did y’all mend y’all relationship?

He just had called me like, “Bro, come out to Cali. Come fuck with me.” I flew out there and did a couple of tracks. Stuff I already had, I got him on the album on a song, him and RiFF RAFF, called “Ring Ring Ring.” That bitch a hit, like a real hit. But that’s my little brother. It ain’t going to be no bad blood with that ever 'cause we came in together. Both of our careers kicked off at the same time. I’m his go-to producer on anything. Even if I’m not even on the albums or mixtapes, you feel me?

How did you get better as a rapper?

I always have been a rapper before I was a producer though. I took a little break from that and focus on the production because I was fuckin’ with that ‘cause I liked it so much. I don’t even have to rap. Then once Chief Keef started to get poppin’ on the music tip and I came in as a producer. So I said, “Okay, cool, God brought me in as a producer right now so I'mma take my talents and I’m going to wait and rap.” I waited and now I feel like this is the right time for me to drop something. I haven’t produced for anything within two years because I haven’t been sending beats. I had to fall back from the industry one time. It was too much.

What was too much?

It was too much pressure. They are pulling you this way and this way when you want to go that way. Then it just like, you got the label people in your ear, you got all these artists that be wanting beats. It was so much stuff going behind the scenes; it was so much people don’t know about as far as industry shit. I was going through it so I had to pull back and focus on me. Plus I was dealing with family issues, personal issues. That’s what it was. Now I’m back out.

Do you think since you got so much fame so early as a producer that it’s a disadvantage now that you’re rapping? How do you overcome those people who doubt you?

I don’t know, I’m just going with it. I hear certain people talking about me like, “Just make the beat," ‘cause that’s what they heard me do in the beginning.” I just do what I want to do. I don’t give a fuck [laughs]. I just do me and I don’t care. I don’t care what another nigga say, I don’t care what another nigga do, I’m just going to go follow my dreams.

What can you tell me about Lud Foe? He’s buzzing right now coming out of Chicago.

Bro, he’s the next nigga coming out. You want to know what’s crazy? He reminds me of Keef so much with how he moving and acting and rappin’. He just reminds me of Keef so much and once he got on the song, I’m like, Damn, he remind me of my dog. He the next one up. But I don’t want to put Keef name into his [movement]. He got his own shit going on. I just fuck with him. I feel like he’s the next big one out of the city.

After this album, are you going to start producing again for other people?

I’m doing whatever I want to do. I don’t know. Of course, after this album I might do something with niggas, I don’t know. I don’t be giving a fuck about these niggas because these niggas don’t be giving a fuck about you in this industry. They want to get themselves this little ass bread; I ain’t going for all that shit.

What’s the difference between producer Young Chop and rapper Young Chop?

It’s really no difference. I’m the same guy. I’m the coach. I coach rappers in rappin’. I put the songs together anyway, you feel me? I’m real a producer. I’m not a producer that just makes the beat and send it to a nigga. No, I’m really in the studio; I’m coaching you, that’s a real producer to me, building with the artists. That’s why Keef’s muthafuckin’ shit sounded so perfect to people like that. We were in the studio and we really worked on shit.

What do you think young producers do wrong today?

They follow what’s poppin’ too much. They need to start being their own bosses and do their own thing. Like I don’t like when niggas just follow trends. Just do your own shit.

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