Big Youth is a hip hop artist that is creating major waves this Summer with his newest single, “Get Rich or Try Dying.” A notable release from the artist, we see his rapping skill set put to the test. With unstoppable and enticing beats, and Big Youth’s unstoppable flow, we get acquainted with an artist who is true to his musical endeavors. The prominent sound sets a hazy tone, that will make you fall in love with real hip hop all over again. Recently we had the honor of catching up with Big Youth for an unforgettable conversation which you can take a peak at below.
Big Youth “Get Rich or Try Dying”
How would you describe being a musician in the current Hip Hop scene? Is there still a ‘family’ feel around a good portion of the music community?
First off, Being a musician in the rap community I think is way different, at least for me, than playing in bands. A lot of people are separated but small cliques rock together. I don’t know haha, I think “family” is kind of a weird term. It’s more just like I fuck with you or I don’t fuck with you, and there is no animosity if I don’t or you don’t or anyone doesn’t duck with people, it’s just when you’re trying to do something like blow up on a scene where hundreds of people a day try to do the same thing, you keep your head down with the squad, work as hard as possible, and produce music that means what you need it to mean. So for me personally, I have a super close circle with the Gemini Eye shit here in Nashville- Cr0psey, Bukusteez, and Scotty Rockwell. That’s the flip. That’s who I rock with daily. But I also have mad homies out of the city like Elliottbeats in Chattanooga who gave me my first beat ever. We still work, but because I keep music isolated, which is better for my creative process, it could seem like I don’t have love for anyone, which is totally whack. Everyone is still around, everyone still links, collabs, and features come through, and one can get a pretty quick sense of who’s rockin with them from the jump and who’s trying to get on some bandwagon type deal. I don’t hang with bandwagon lames - people who only fuck with you because you’re starting to pop. It’s all love unless you don’t fuck with me, then I couldn’t care less.
“Get Rich or Try Dying” has been a track that has been on my radar for the past several weeks. How long did it take you to write and record the piece?
Man, that thing is so old hahahahaha I’m not even sure! I’m pretty sure it was a quick process. I was just chillin out at home or somethin and Cr0psey texted me to peep my email for a lil something. I opened up the beat file and was floored as always. Homie is slick some sort of alien-extraterFlextrial or something. Literally every beat is insane. I was feelin some type of way, and was concerned about my place in the industry and beyond, like suffocated without being noticed. I basically wrote the song to tell myself “fuck the world, make yourself something”. I called up Cr0psey and we recorded it within a day or two after the beat was made. The best ones happen quick. And the best ones are the most personal. I tried to keep me as much in the song without writing a diary entry, which seems to happen a lot.
What song (or songs) on your upcoming release are the most personal to you as a songwriter, and why?
The next tape is crazy. Very introspective and very much a product of where I’m at in this game. “On This” is a song produced by Elliottbeats, recorded and mixed by Cr0psey that describes my relationship with myself, my community, and these girls,yo. How I view my actions, where I stand as a rapper, and how destructive I can be to myself when trying to create meaning in my life. It’s hard to be young and professional and life is too short to be concerned with how others view me. I do what I need to keep myself in a good spot mentally; but that can mean taking too much time to party and make appearances, or getting caught up with chicks, or spending too much time alone and digging deeper in my mind then I probably should. I fall in love with girls like its nothing. They’re divine yo. Sirens. Beautiful and destructive. So a whole lot of the album is kind of a response to that too hahaha.
What artists influenced the sound of Big Youth? Does that play a role in your songwriting?
I grew up on punk music. My mom was in the L.E.S in the 80’s and was about it, so bands like Kraut and Wire were constant. The Sex Pistols, Ramones, Patti Smith, shit, some of the first music my mom gave me was Bricks Are Heavy and Hungry For Stink by L7. Now I’m all over the place. I listen to my friends a lot. Vapor shit from Class0c-Gemini Eye shit from Scotty Rockwell, Bukusteez. I love Grossers music out of NOLA. A lot of soundcloud shit too- Jace, Madeintyo, xxxtentacion, Allan Kingdom and Alex Wiley, Future of course, Thugger of course, Uzi Vert. Everyone you know will be in the history books. But then I have Nap Eyes, and Joel Alme, Lou Reed, Morrisey. I like to keep soft and poetic music around. It’s a different side that a lot of rappers can’t get with but I need it hahaha. I guess all of my musical taste defines my music nonconsciously, but I would hope I stand alone. I’m never tryna jack style. Just trying to do me the best I can do me.
What can you tell us about the making of the video for “Get Rich or Try Dying”?
I can tell you it was an experience hahaha, so much clout and vibe in one video it was insane. Cr0psey and I had finished the Youth Ep and we wanted a video. We picked the song that meant the most and was built the best and basically called up our homie AJ who runs Idiom Films and pitch the idea. He had made a video for this post-hardcore band I’m a huge fan of in town called Watcher. We saw his edit and knew he was our dude for the gig. We hit up our mans at The Glass Menage for the space to shoot and did it in a week. Just called up homies to shoot, hit the roll up and kinda devised a visual vibe for the emotion of the song. AJ killed it and the folks at Glass Menage killed it. We basically just told em what we wanted and it all popped the right way.
How is the songwriting in general for the record? Is it an easy process, or does it take you a good amount of time to achieve the sounds you wanted?
I have files and files of unreleased music. I’m hella critical of my work and sometimes I’ll take a few hours to put something together that in the end won’t ever see the light of day. It’s like any art really. You put in the time expecting a masterpiece but sometimes the ink doesn’t hit the canvas the right way. That’s just what happens. I try to take a lot of time to write, and I don’t like making music that isn’t personal- so if I force a song it may be hyphy but it’s not me. I write a lot of poetry too so trying to separate self from music is super difficult and often songs turn into a diary. That’s sick for me, but a lot of people don’t wanna hear that shit. I have to be conscious of the demand in rap music and place myself between lines so I can find a way to stand out a little. That’s what everyone should be doing. Nobody needs the same thing twice. Originality is key and persistence and consistency is what differentiates rappers from people who make rap. It sounds like bullshit but it’s not. I take the time to develop a sound, and if I don’t like it I scrap it. But that’s the artmaking world- sketching until your Mattise rolls out.
What can we expect from Big Youth in 2016?
New music, new collabs, new money. We have some music being released on Designer Medium, a new album coming and shit. I’m trying to enter the fashion game with a lil project called New Masses™ that Cr0psey and I make. Just trying to be as productive as possible and make as much as I can. I just left school for this- so paying off college loans would be way too lit.
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