Tyla Yaweh remembers his first big gig like it was yesterday. “I did a show in front of 15,000 people. I seen nothing but camera lights. I was like, ‘This is where I wanna be,’” he tells Elite Daily. “That was my first real big check. It was for $10,000 and I was like, ‘Oh, sh*t! Let's go! I'm independent!’” It was a moment he’ll remember forever after risking everything to move from Florida to L.A. to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper. Now, as Tyla Yaweh prepares to drop his sophomore album, Rager Boy, he has one message for the world: “Stop sleeping on me. Wake up! You took a nap too long! Stop sleeping!"
See, Yaweh says he’s “not even there yet” when it comes to reaching his full potential, and he’s not letting a single opportunity slip away. “I just don’t have fear in my life at all,” he says. “I love starting from the bottom … and just seeing myself become who I am now.” He's now a 25-year-old signed to Epic Records and London Entertainment, has more than a few hit singles under his belt, and well over 100 tattoos.
These days, Yaweh's checks are much bigger and his crowds are, too. But that doesn't stop him from appreciating the less glamorous parts of fame. Actually, one of the things he misses most while the coronavirus has him grounded in L.A., unable to tour and perform for massive crowds of fans around the world, is simply doing interviews. “I love doing interviews," he says. "People who don't like interviews — I don’t get it. They’re just too full of themselves.”
His ability to find the fun in every situation (even a 30-minute phone interview with me) has earned Yaweh a cult following of Rager Boys and Rager Girls (that's what he calls his fans), plus high-profile collaborations with Post Malone, Wiz Khalifa, Gunna, and DaBaby. Below, he reflects on some of those moments and the memories he walked away with.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
A Rockstar In A Kilt
Elite Daily: This photo was taken while you were touring with Post Malone on the Runaway tour. What was the energy like during that time?
Tyla Yaweh: I was in Miami. I remember that day. I was on real rockstar energy. I did a whole world tour with Post, so it was just vibes, happiness, and being with your family. Just learning and going crazy. It was such a blessing to even be in that position. I didn't take none of it for granted. Being on the road helped me create a cult following. I know I don't have a million followers, but I have a cult following of fans that love my music and share my music all around the world.
ED: What is your outlook on fashion?
TY: I don't really have a motto for fashion. I love different clothing. I love dressing how I feel. If I feel like dressing comfortable because it's cold outside, I'm gonna wear sweats and a hoodie. But I love changing my 'fit. I probably change three or four times throughout the day. I just love dressing off my emotion.
ED: What's your message to people who judge you or come at you sideways over your fashion choices?
TY: No one ever really came at me sideways. They don't wanna come at me sideways. I just don't think anyone has the balls to do that. That's how I see it.
ED: What do you miss about touring?
TY: I miss waking up on a tour bus in a random place and then, right after, you gotta get on a plane to fly out somewhere random and do a bunch of interviews. I love just going to the radio stations, going to random countries and meeting other people and the labels, and doing random after shows. Being outside is everything. Who wants to sit down all day? I'm an artist.
A Party In Sacramento
ED: Tell me about this photo with Post Malone and Swae Lee.
TY: We were in Sactown, baby! That was like the second day on [the Runaway] tour in Sacramento. We were wasted. They have these things out there called fishbowls with a bunch of different liquor, and we drank, like, three fishbowls. We ended up doing a lot that night. Smoking cigarettes in the bathroom, taking cool pictures in there.
ED: What does Post Malone's friendship and mentorship mean to you?
TY: Everything. That's my family. Any friend that you have, you gotta have each other's backs and vice versa. If that person's wrong, you're gonna be wrong right with them. He helped me out so much and he teaches me to be humble and just keep working harder than you speak, and let your work speak for itself.
ED: Was there ever any awkwardness while getting to know him? Or was it straight family vibes from the start?
TY: It was straight family vibes. I walk in a building and people just f*ck with my vibe. Because I'm real, and people see that. It's just me being myself. I'm not faking it for no one. [So,] that's my homie. I know he's the most famous person in the world, but I see him as a friend. I see him as Austin, because I know him.
ED: What are some of your most memorable moments with Post?
TY: Me and Post have a lot of fun times. Sometimes we get so drunk it's hard to even remember. So that tells you a lot. Just getting to hang out and vibe and make memories.
A Rager Boy Face Tattoo
ED: What's the story behind the name "Rager Boy," and what inspired you to call your album that?
TY: R.A.G.E. is like my acronym. [It means] release all good energy. When I come to a show, I come to rage. At a party, I'm raging. We in the studio, I'm raging. Having fun, releasing all good energy, and showing people how to have a good time. My whole team calls me Rager Boy, so I just ran with it. Now, it became a thing. People who are my fans are Rager Boys and Rager Girls.
ED: Do face tattoos hurt?
TY: I don't know. I got my eyelids tatted. It doesn't hurt. I have this one tattoo above my eyebrow that says "GG4L." That kind of hurt, but I sat through it.
ED: What new tattoo would you get tomorrow?
TY: I've been thinking about getting this Dragon Ball Z character called Android. I'm an anime fan. I've been thinking about getting my legs tatted, to be honest.
ED: Do you know how many tattoos you have?
TY: No, I don't. If I counted, it would probably take some time. I probably got 100, maybe?
ED: Do you need a deep meaning behind every tattoo, or do you just go with your gut?
TY: They're all memories. "I remember that day I got this tattoo." Or if I wake up with a tattoo, it's like, "Oh, I woke up with this tattoo." It's a memory. Every tattoo I got is a memory in my life. There's some where I got it in a different country. And I'm keepin' it. They're all art.
In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. Read more here.