Young L isn’t afraid to take charge of his business. Actually, he prefers it.
“That’s how I do everything. All my mix tapes were all pretty much produced solely by me–that’s like 3 or 4 mix tapes I’ve produced,” he says.
Young L got into the rap game in high school when he joined up with Keith “Stunna” Jenkins, DaMonte “Uno” Johnson, and Brandon “Lil B” McCartney to form the Pack; a Bay Area crew with a fetish for skateboarding and hip hop.
The Pack found some mainstream popularity in 2006 with the release of their mix tape Wolfpack Muzik, Vol.2. The leading track, “Vans,” became one of the Pack’s most popular songs, as well as one of the most controversial. MTV banned the video because of its blatant product endorsement of the famous slip-on sneakers. Still, the hit brought them to the attention of LA rapper Too Short, who signed them to the Up All Nite label.
Young L then started producing his own mix tapes, which he used to create his own sound. “After a while, making party music just got kind of tired and you’re like, ‘Ah man, I don’t want to do any more party music,” he says of his musical switch. He released his latest mix tape, Enigma Theory, just last month. “It’s more experimental, less party-based, less up-tempo, less derogatory probably,” he says. “I would say it’s a little more outside the box.”
The west coast rapper not only writes and produces his own music but also has his own clothing line. Pink Dolphin clothing was born in 2007 while Young L was touring with the Pack. The name came from an idea for a rock band but when that idea didn’t materialize, the Pink Dolphin name was adopted for the new clothing line instead. Pink Dolphin products boast a combination of bright pinks, blues and teals. Japanese lettering and graphics, nautical themes, and of course, their namesake marine mammal decorate the clothing as well. Young L designs many of Pink Dolphin’s products himself. “For me, a lot of it comes from things being symmetrical, things being color coordinated the right way. I would say that I put together illustrated pictures for the line not based on what I would wear, but based on how I feel or how I could express myself or how I could express an idea,” he says. “I feel like all of our pieces are art pieces.” Pink Dolphin’s logo itself is meant to express the company’s motto, which L says is “positivity and originality.” The rare pink dolphins jumping out of the water and the simple plus sign symbol recur in the collection to promote this outlook.
Young L’s love of bright colors and cartoonish graphics appear not only on Pink Dolphin tees and tanks but also on his body. L has Pack tattoos on his arm as well as a Pink Dolphin on his face and the promotional logo on his forearm. Young L’s tattoos vary from straight up portraits of his brothers, to a tribute to the Golden State Warriors and the iconic Rolling Stones tongue. But he shows his respect for some old school gaming with a small group of Mario tattoos that include some pixilated clouds and a 1-up mushroom. “I think my most popular tattoo is the Boo ghost tattoo from Mario. I have that on the top of my fist,” he says.
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