‘Not Another Grime Artist’ – Discussing The Transcendence of Yungen

 

It’s no big secret that over the last few years grime music has broken back into the mainstream and been introduced to a whole new wave of listeners and supporters. Despite some scepticism to the rise, it’s undeniable that it has allowed underground and independent artists new and seasoned to flourish.

The case of Yungen is different, however – in truth it’d be wrong to label Yungen as a solely “grime artist”  – his musicality transcends genres and while many have tried to place his music into simple one-size-fits all boxes, it is, in fact, his ability as a songwriter to work in several disciplines of music which has always seen him flourish regardless of the trending musical climate.

Just off a headline show at Jamaica House 2017 and with ‘Bestie’ bursting into the UK Top 20 – we caught up with Yungen to discuss his musical journey, labels and growth.

 

FAULT: As a songwriter, where do you look for inspiration?

Yungen: I get most of my inspiration just being out and driving. When I’m sat down in a writing session, it’s difficult to just start from scratch; I need prior inspiration before I just start.

Has not releasing music which fits into solely one genre made it harder on you as an artist?

I think it’s helped me because when times have changed and music has developed, not being able to put me in a box has allowed me to stay relevant. In the last few years with grime and afro bashment-rave being in, to be able to do everything has helped me release music people are vibing at the time.

 

Is it hard when people say “Yungen, the grime artist” and put you into that one box when you work across a number of different genres?

A little bit – I feel like me being called grime MC is because I came in at its peak. Me doing grime they’d call me grime but years before I was called a UK rapper and now after ‘Bestie’ they’d probably call me an afro-beat artist [laughs]. I don’t mind that I have been labelled as this or that because I know I’m not just one kind of artist and it’s on me to always make that clear.

 

A lot of new fans have jumped on to the grime very quickly – do you think this sharp rise is going to help or hurt the genre in the long run?

I don’t believe that it’s going to hurt the genre. I think grime has just been opened up to a wider audience especially with people like Stormzy who are killing it and giving all the younger MCs coming up more opportunities.

Are you a fan of large stages or do you prefer the smaller venues and session gigs where it’s just you and the music?

I enjoy performing, it’s one of the biggest perks that comes with it. A couple of years ago I went on tour with Naughty Boy across the world, and that was a big experience for me, and it made me see a different side to performing in smaller clubs.

 

What’s been the best part of your musical journey so far?

There have been so many different moments that have been iconic for me. Signing a record deal and being able to put out songs and charting. Being on tour with other people and putting on my tour has been cool.

 

‘Bestie’ has blown up and become one of the hottest records this summer, do you ever worry about topping the high bar you’ve set for yourself?

No, I’m not worried, it just made me excited for my next one. With ‘Bestie’ I had a plan when I made it, and I had a plan of what I want to release after, I didn’t expect it to go as big as it did but I’ve always had a long-term goal, and I’m excited about the next move.

 

What are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to everything really – a lot of R&B and rap and whats popping at the moment.

 

What’s changed the most about you since the debut?

I’d say I’ve grown and learnt a lot about the industry and the strategies of putting out new stuff. Going from being independent and to signing a record deal, it’s good to learn everything involved.

 

If you could give your younger self any advice what would it be?

It’d be to learn more and be smarter on the business side of music – I’ve learnt it along the way now, but it’d have been good to have known how things work from the get go.

 

What is the big dream?

When I first started, I didn’t think I”d be here now, and because I’ve met what my target is so now, I’m just setting myself new goals every week.

 

What is your FAULT?

I don’t like going out much, and I’m antisocial with going out. I’m more happy at home with my boys or in the studio, so maybe I need to start going out and enjoying life a bit more.

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