Introducing $B (pronounced “S-B”), Tyga’s official DJ. After being behind the turntables for over seven years, real name Shakir Bahati is now ready to embark on his own musical journey behind the mic. And he’s ready to do whatever it takes. We caught up with $B to speak on his new project PERIOD Tha Album, touring the world with Tyga, linking with Lil Wayne, and more. Read more…
For those who don’t know, who is $B?
$B is an artist. I just dropped my third project. A lot of people might know me from deejaying for Tyga throughout the years — just being associated with him. But lately, I’ve just been doing my rapping thing. Attempting to make it in that field (rapping). $B the artist, aside from deejaying.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is West Coast ‘cause I’m from Leimert Park. Compton, Carson, Leimert — grew up in Leimert Park. But my favorite rapper is Nas, so you might hear a little storytelling here and there. because I do like… I like beats where I could tell a story, more so partying. But being from LA, being from the West Coast, we come from that backyard boogie. So, I do have party songs.
Obviously, just like I said, being from the city. You don’t want to kind of bore people and I feel like when you listen to my new project, you’re not gonna just come over here and just turn up the whole time. I wanna make sure I grab the listeners’ ears. I think like the first three tracks is like rap songs, like rap beats. But then we have a good time, towards the end.
Talk about your album, PERIOD Tha Album.
PERIOD Tha Album, like I said, is my third project. Took me two years to finish it just due to finding the right sound, the beats, and stuff like that. Me not being signed and people kind of not taking me serious on a rapping side. People were skeptical to send me beats. And just I was going through a lot just in my life.
Just life stuff, you know what I mean? It could’ve been from anywhere to maybe not having somewhere to record or not having beats. And just going through life day to day. So PERIOD Tha Album, I named it “PERIOD.” That’s one of my sayings.
What does PERIOD mean?
That’s one of my sayings, ‘cause people that follow me on the Instagram and Snapchat, I come up with all these little sayings that people used to use. Like parents, like especially growing up black and stuff, our parents would say certain stuff like, “Turn that TV off, boy! I’m not playing with you, period!” And “period” mean like you mean business. So that’s how I kind of took it. And I named the album PERIOD because period I’m here to stay. And this is period. I’ma be doing my thing for a long time.
What do you want fans to get from your story?
Fans? Only fans I think I have was DJ fans, but now I’m starting to gain more fans on the artistry side of things. People hitting me like, “Yo, the album is good.” Like, “we can’t believe that’s you.” ‘Cause I’m always like the underdog. And like the person that lay back not saying nothing. But what they’ll get from the period album, they’ll get just the realness. It’s a listener’s project. Like I said, you’re not about to come on here and party, but I do have some party records.
I let people more into my life on this project than I ever have.
Talk about your relationship with Tyga and how you guys linked.
I think I met him in 2005. I met him through a mutual friend. And he was just rapping and stuff. And I thought it was kind of funny because I was like, “I don’t even know who he’s rapping for.” Because like, the people… I’m 31. So the people I grew up listening to was the old heads, like Nas and Pac. And I’m just like, “Who wants to be a rapper?” Like those are already our rappers. But he stuck with it, and throughout the years…
So you kind of got him to rap?
No no no, I didn’t get him to rap. It was just… when I met him, he was rapping and it was just kind of funny to me because like I said, the rappers I idolized was like older: the Nas, the Pac, the Big, the whoever else. And he stuck with it. And then I think his career was just taking off like crazy. He was like, “you should just try deejaying.” And like I didn’t want to do it. I rather just like be a homie. Like I’m not trying to be a DJ.
Because at that time, the only DJ I had ever heard of was DJ Clue. And that’s still like my favorite DJ ‘cause my older brother had like the DJ Clue Professional Part 2. I just remember that echoing. That’s the only DJ… and then DJ Quik. But he wasn’t really deejaying, he was rapping. So I kind of studied the game from YouTube, and then he had a couple other DJs that was deejaying for him before me. ‘Cause like I said, I didn’t wanna do it. Just learned from them and YouTube, really.
So I’ve been deejaying for him, seriously, since 2011. My first big, big tour when I had to like buy turntables and all that was the Chris Brown Fame Tour? Yeah, that was 2011. So we did arenas and I was like,” Yo this is…”
How was that?
It was scary. But I faced my fears because I came to a realization. Because I said they’re not here to see me. They’re here to see him. So as long as we’re on the same page, and I know what songs is playing and I know when to turn the song off, when to stop the song, go to the next song, transition… it’s a feel. Deejaying is a feel. I used to think a lot. Now you know when you’re up there, you really just don’t think. It’s just a feel, you know what I’m saying? You get a feel for it.
That’s crazy. If you had one song for fans to hear your story, what would you pick?
On the new project?
Just in general.
Aw man. If you go to my SoundCloud, my biggest song is a song called “Most of the Time.” And another song called “Real N*gga.” It was like me, my homie King Trell, and Sam Sneak, which is Rick Ross’s DJ. He’s out here doing hooks. So he gave me a hook. He’s just a real cool dude. I remember I was stuck in Miami, I called him. I didn’t even know him like that. He’s like… picked me up from the airport and stuff — make sure that I was good.
So when I was rhyming and stuff, I remember just like hearing him on a couple hooks. I was like, “Man he would sound hard on here.” So he sent it back. It’s called “Real Nigga.” Maybe those two songs, but on the new project I would probably say a song called “Glasses High.” It’s basically just about making it out of wherever you come from, and living a better life for yourself. Living a better life. “Glasses High” is probably my favorite song on the new album. And “I’m Already Knowing” too. That’s another one.
Real quick, what are your thoughts on Tyga coming out with an R&B album?
My thoughts… I haven’t heard it. I really don’t know too much about it. I’ve just been kind of focused on my thing the past like two years. ‘Cause like I said, I played the back for a long time. And I’m a firm believer in just shining in your own light. I kind of waited on… this is my time now. So I’m trying to just capitalize off everything. If it’s doing interviews, little shows… we used to start out doing little shows.
I tell everybody right now, I done been in front of five people, I done been in front of 20,000 people at the Staples Center. I just need to get my feet wet performing and getting fans and gaining fans. ‘Cause I’ve seen his grind. So that only can help motivate me to see like, “Hey, this is what you gotta do. You gotta put in that work, put in that grind.”
What’s your end goal?
My end goal is just being able to take care of my family. My girl, my daughter, my mom… I’ve been doing it. Like I said, I’ve been in the music industry (as they say) I guess since 2005 and didn’t even know it. I wasn’t really paying attention to things. Like I was around Lil Wayne when he dropped Carter III, the day it came out. I was with him that day it came out. He was in the studio in New York. His album sold one million albums they say. That’s my homie, too. He got love for me.
You ever work with Wayne on some music shit?
Nah, that’s the thing. I was just around not knowing what was going on. I was just there, just being with my friend. But once Wayne seen me deejaying, he came to a couple shows. He couldn’t believe it like, “Oh, black Shakir deejaying now?” He just seen me and saluted me.
I seen him recently again and he just gave me a DJ drop like, “This Lil Wayne, YMCMB. $B my nigga…” It just made my day. For him to see the grind and him not knowing me that long, but seeing I kind of came from the bottom. And now he’s working his way up, trying to accomplish things. Instead of just being a tag-along or somebody that just don’t do nothing. I don’t ever want to be that in life. Like somebody who’s just hanging out, like get a job. I can go get a job if I just want to hang out.
What do you think it’s gonna take to get your music heard?
To get my music heard, I just feel like having the right team. I’ve never really had a team. I feel like only one person can do only so much on their own. You know, the new saying is “trust the process.” But at the end of the day, everybody has somebody. You can’t sign yourself, you know what I mean? All these people — either you had Jay, Puffy, or whoever was the big guys back then.
But just putting myself out there. Doing shows, doing interviews… shout out to The Source. They posted me. They posted my new project, so that was my biggest look to date, I figure, on the rapping side.
Yeah, like that’s The Source. I don’t care what nobody say. That’s what I grew up on, like in the magazine. Just working the project. This is the most project I feel the strongest in. Just because I took my time. It wasn’t about just saying anything and just putting it out. From the album to the cover: real West Coast Ice Cube outfit. That’s one of my favorite rappers.
The merch that I had, people liked it. And then people just like the name, like “PERIOD, PERIOD.” It’s kind of an everyday thing. You say you set a goal and then you when you finally do it, it’s period. I did it. And that’s what this whole album is about, like I did it, I finished it!
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
I wake up, brush my teeth, thank God, and then I usually take my daughter to school. ‘Cause she’s only three, so she’s not talking a lot. And when I’m away on tour and stuff (two months or whatever), I miss her a lot. So I try to make sure I take her to school. And then from there, I can just attempt to make something happen.
I haven’t punched in a clock since 2008. It hasn’t been all glitter and gold. It’s been times where I’m like, “Yo, I’m about to go get this job.” I really don’t talk much about what I’ma do. I just really go do it. And sometimes people take my humbleness, or my kindness, for my weakness. I noticed in this industry, you gotta be in people’s face. They kind of don’t respect you if you’re not like, in their face.
Like, “Aw man, he good. He got a Benz.” Or “he got a car. He got a nice little house.” Like yeah, but everybody need that help to get to the next level. I’m not really settling. That’s why I’m like, I don’t really care if it’s five people at the show, ten people. You know eventually, it gets bigger and bigger. So that’s usually my day.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Probably just working a job. Hell, I have a clothing line, too. So the fashion is a big too, obviously. I’ve always been into shoes — just fashion, fly haircuts and stuff. So maybe working in retail, maybe a shoe job. Or just doing the clothing thing for a living. ‘Cause now it’s like… this is one of my shirts right here. It’s not a hobby right now you know we got almost 14,000 on Instagram just from people wearing it. People that are like “Yo, this is hot.”
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Nas. [laughs] I don’t really like… that’s the thing. People get in my car and I don’t play… ‘cause I deejay. So I only listen to the music in the club. It’s so funny, people be like, “Oh you heard the new?” I be like, “Nah, but if you send it to me, I’ll put it in Serato.” I’m like Nas, Mobb Deep, 2Pac…
What about the new Migos?
Come on… you got to. You’ll get slapped, man.
Well that’s why I was asking!
Like I just did like a little top five. I said, “Future, Migos, Kendrick, J Cole, Drake, and 2 Chainz. And Rick Ross.” Rick Ross probably is my favorite out of all the new people. Well he’s not new, but you know what I mean. Besides like the legends. Yeah, Ross is dope, 2 Chainz, Kendrick, Drake, Migos… yeah.
Well, I just posted a picture. I did a song with Prodigy on my first project. Just from being cool with him. Like just him seeing me at Rock the Bells and I’m like, “Yo, I’m a fan.” Nas and Mobb Deep.
Is that on the project?
It’s on my first project. It dropped in 2015. So besides him getting on my project, Nas. I mean I got a Nas drop. That was big because I’ve been listening to him since ‘96. So just meeting him when I worked at McDonald’s. And on Crenshaw in 2004. And then eight years later, met him in New York. Summer Jam. It was just like surreal. He remembered the whole little story.
‘Cause I’m like, “You was on Crenshaw!” No matter where you go in the world, you say Crenshaw, it brings you back to that place. So probably Nas. But that’s really it.
That’s dope. Is there anything else you want to let Young California know?
Has it always been that handle?
I changed it like right after I had her. So like two and a half years. That’s my biggest honor. Besides all this rap stuff, get kind of weird and fake sometimes. That’s my main thing: her. People like, “It takes away from your brand.” Like not really. ’Cause to me, it’s just a name. I’m $B the artist. That’s what it is, period. Just be on the lookout. People know me.
I feel like in LA, they don’t really respect you until you shit on them. Until you shit on them. And when I say shit on them, it’s like, maybe you’re at the club and you get five bottles and they only got two bottles. And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” Yeah I bump into a lot of guys it’s like… I’m not the person that’s like “Oh what’s up…” People know. I’m from the area. Crenshaw.
Are you at the clubs a lot or just when you deejay for Tyga?
I really don’t get booked out here at all. Really overseas, really. These areas is always weird. I don’t know. I guess people got their own little team they want to stick with, so I understand that. But it’s like certain cats that seen me from when I wasn’t deejaying, just on some regular, I feel like you see me now… sometimes people think you’re doing better than them.
It’s a lot of weird stuff out here. Just being from LA, I feel like it’s like that. ‘Cause in Atlanta everybody do music together and make a hit. Bring a little bit to the table, get a lot.