Young Son Interview
|Next Project:||Dreamer's Poetry|
|Twitter:||Mike Dreams on Twitter|
|Website:||Mike Dreams's Website|
If there’s one up-and-comer who needs no introduction to our regulars, it’s Young Son—since he first hit our front page back in December of ‘07, the Minneapolis native has established himself as both an underground artist to watch and one of our site’s most devoted contributors. After spending 10 weeks Counting Sheep in anticipation of the 20-year-old rapper’s sophomore LP, few in the Booth remain unconvinced that the hip-hop dreamer is destined for greatness. Now, riding high on the wave of acclaim generated by his wildly successful, DJBooth.net-exclusive series, Young Son is preparing to inspire listeners in the Twin Cities and beyond with his Dreamer’s Poetry.
Young Son’s sophomore LP has yet to receive a solid release date, but, in the meantime, fans can look forward to the release of his Counting Sheep Mixtape —featuring all 10 entries in the series (including reader-acclaimed standouts “Tha Diner” and “Heavy Soul”) as well as a few exclusive originals, the Booth-sponsored street album is set to hit our front page tomorrow, the 17th. Young Son’s contribution to our exclusive freestyle series, “I Just Wanna Be…”, is available now for streaming and free download.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Young Son steps into the Booth to discuss his plans to elevate the Minne-ap music scene to a level of renown it hasn’t seen since Prince’s heyday, why he strives to keep his music socially responsible, and the insomnia cure that never fails to bring him sweet dreams (it’s not Counting Sheep).
Listen to the Interview
Mike Dreams Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an up-and-coming emcee from Minneapolis, Minneasota, who has been Counting Sheep at DJBooth.net for the past 10 weeks. Please welcome DJBooth Resident DJ and a good friend of mine, Young Son—how you doin’?
Young Son: What’s going on, Z?
DJ Booth: Thank you so much for joining me, my friend.
Young Son: No problem!
DJ Booth: Let’s get straight to it: is Minnesota a good environment for an up-and-coming artist like yourself?
Young Son: I think Minnesota is a great environment for up-and-coming artists. There’s so many of us out now, and we get a lot of love, homegrown love, a lot of cities would not show to their artists.
DJ Booth: Are there any aspects of the Minneapolis music scene, though, that you have found limiting in your pursuit of success?
Young Son: I would say, for the most part, not a lot of people are out there lookin’ for us, and I feel that’s kinda limiting. Also, some of the interior people who are running the media up here kinda speak to the same people who have been doin’ music up here for the past couple years, and they don’t embrace some of the newcomers, some of the younger artists. It’s one thing to have the support of the fans, but a lot of the media outlets should open up a little bit better.
DJ Booth: So you’re saying that there’s a lack of true tastemakers, and there’s too much politics?
Young Son: Yeah, basically. There’s a lot of politics.
DJ Booth: Well, that is not only in Minnesota; that is everywhere, my friend, and we have to break [out of] that. As we both know, Minneapolis emcees are well-known for being well-respected but successful underground talents, such as Brother Ali, Atmosphere, Eyedea & Abilities… Would you be comfortable being clumped into the same or a similar category as the artists I just named, or do you envision a completely different path to success for yourself?
Young Son: Well, first off, I support all those artists that you just named—I think what they’re doing is great for Minnesota—but I do feel I wanna do a little bit more than that in my full-on career, as I continue as an artists. I wanna excel, and take Minnesota music to a level it hasn’t been taken to since, maybe, back in Prince’s days. As an artist, you’ve gotta shoot for the moon. I have no problem with any artists who are underground who wanna stay underground, and I don’t mind being an underground artist right now, but I just hope to get out to the masses.
DJ Booth: Well, if you follow in Prince’s footsteps and ride his coattails to success, [you’ll be good.]
Young Son: Definitely.
DJ Booth: Well, like Bill Cosby, who made the decision that you don’t have to curse in order to be funny, you refrain from using any vulgar or offensive language in your material. MH, to what extent do you believe that artists are obligated to be socially responsible in their music?
Young Son: I think artists are very obligated to be socially responsible. And the thing is, I’m not against people expressin’ themselves, and I know a lot of artists who don’t necessarily rap like me, who are also tellin’ the truth and they get their point across. I was talkin’ with a friend of mine, Young Capo, one day, and he was tellin’ me about how he did a show and there were kids at his shows, and he was doin’ a whole bunch of cussin’ and whatnot. Later on, somebody was tellin’ him that the kids loved the song, and they were singin’ it, and he was like, “Well, how are they singin’ the song with all the cussing in it?” And so then he decided, from that day, “I need to be aware of the music I’m making, and be responsible.” I was thinking about that, too; I was like, “Yeah,” ‘cause I want everybody, from young to old, to like my music.
DJ Booth: For the past 10 weeks, we have showcased your talent in the appropriately-titled Counting Sheep… Countdown to Dreamer’s Poetry series. How has DJBooth.net member feedback factored into the evolution of your musical style, if [at all]?
Young Son: DJBooth feedback has been a really, really big part of my evolution in music. In these 10 weeks, I feel I’ve grown so much, and I’ve kinda gained more appreciation for my music than I have before. Because, the fact is, goin’ into the series, I wasn’t sure [whether] I would be embraced, I really wasn’t sure of my music all the way, but the support from the DJBooth members and feedback reassured me that what I was doin’ was correct, and they showed so much love. And even those who might’ve not liked tracks, they gave honest feedback [they said] what they really felt about it, and I really respected that.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Well, you know you make an impact somewhere when somebody creates an account [at the site] specifically with hating in mind. The Counting Sheep series was split between vivid narratives and topical jams, and also punchline-driven tracks. Which type of records do you find easier to write, and, secondly, which type do you enjoy writing more?
Young Son: I actually enjoy the punchline-driven tracks a lot, ‘cause I can spew off poetic, socially conscious stuff anytime, but it takes a little time to think of witty lines. I know it’s something that all rappers do, and it’s not anything new, but it’s just fun to me, to think of witty lines, and be able to read it back and think of how it could mean two or three different things, and see if anybody catches it when I say it. I think that’s one of my favorite types of songs to make.
DJ Booth: Do you ever suffer from insomnia? I mean, does Counting Sheep work for you, or is there another strategy that you can reveal to all of our listeners, that has proven to be more successful?
Young Son: [laughs] I seriously don’t sleep ever, not that much—not as of late. This might seem really awkward, but, when I do go to sleep, I have to have music on, and, ironically, it’s not even hip-hop—it’s actually a really, really dope alternative track by Eva Cassidy; she has this rendition of “Autumn Leaves,” and I just go to sleep to that. For a hip-hop artist that may sound super-soft or whatever, but that’s just my thing. Once I put that on, I’m out like a light and it’s all good.
DJ Booth: There’s nothing to be ashamed about; for a good four or five-year stretch, I listened to Maxwell’s Embrya almost every night, so you have nothing to worry about—we’re all revealing secrets today, during the interview.
Young Son: [laughs] It’s all good.
DJ Booth: Some of the best-ever ideas I have thought up during a deep sleep, and it is because of this that I actually keep a notepad and a pen by my bedside, so [when] I wake up I can jot it down right away. Did any of the inspiration behind the project Dreamer’s Poetry come from a dream?
Young Son: Actually, a funny story is, I started workin’ on the album about a year and a couple months ago, and [while] I was fallin’ asleep I came up with the name “Dreamer’s Poetry.” I hopped up and just started writin’ some stuff in the middle of the night based on that theme, wrote an intro and different things like that, and from there I just ran with it. So it was kind of funny—the whole thing was not just a gimmick, I really was dreaming poetry, and I had to hop up and really get onto it. But the album and the concepts are not just influenced by dreams in terms of sleeping, but also dreams in terms of aspirations, and just those metaphorical, introspective moments in life that only you personally could know about.
DJ Booth: In line with the title of your series and the forthcoming project release, you started a movement called MUSIC2DREAM2. Two-part question, Young Son: one, what inspired the creation of this association, and, two, how big can this movement become?
Young Son: Okay… I like that wordplay you just did there.
DJ Booth: Thank you! [laughs]
Young Son: Like I mentioned before, my homie and friend Young Capo, I actually met him back in November of ‘08 and we [spoke] about taking our music to another level, as far as what we know it to be in our city. And the type of [foundation] we laid it upon was kind of inspirational, uplifting, ambitious type music, no different from the cliché stuff that’s been goin’ on, especially in our city—we’re known for underground rappers, but we’re also known for a lot of replicas of other cities, it’s not really [exclusive] to our city. So, we felt like we wanted to become that movement. The talk was timeless, and so we just kind got together and formed this concert series, and I decided later on to make it into a brand that we can promote shows through as a collective, and it’s inspired by our true stories.
DJ Booth: In your DJBooth.net freestyle, which is going to premiere on Wednesday, you spit the line, “I’ve ate, slept, and breathed music, ‘cause I know the real heads out there need music/ Pumping through my veins and if I cut ‘em I would bleed music.” Obviously, music is a big, big part of your life—could you imagine what you would be doing right now, if music was not?
Young Son: I actually don’t have any idea, ‘cause I’ve been on music nonstop since, like, ‘04, and I haven’t really thought about anything else. I don’t know, maybe I would have better grades in college right now—I’m in my mathematics class writing lyrics and whatnot, and that might not be a good thing, but it’s a good thing, in my opinion, for what I’m trying to do. But if I wasn’t doing music I’d probably be bored, I guess.
DJ Booth: Well, you would be bored, and all your fans and listeners would be as well, ‘cause they would not have your music in their lives. To wrap up, give everybody an understanding not only of where you’re coming from, but where you’re going—where do you see yourself in 2009 and beyond?
Young Son: This year, I just see myself gettin’ out there to the people, with a real debut out to people, and get them to get a feel for my music and who I am as a person and my personality, ‘cause I feel not enough artists put out their personality so [listeners] can really feel you. I just hope for the sky after this; I hope to get out to some labels and stop at Music-Go-Round, and I hope it becomes a big thing. I just wanna do professional music for the rest of my life.
DJ Booth: Well, hopefully this interview is just one of many which you will complete over the next few years, as you rise up and become as successful as both of us know that you can be. Give everybody, Young Son, a website or a MySpace page to check out. And of course, if they don’t get their fill there, they can just check you out on DJBooth.net.
Young Son: Most definitely. You guys can check out youngsonmusic.com for all my updates, and links to my MySpace and Facebook and all that good stuff.
DJ Booth: There you have it! Thank you for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJBooth, the best of continued success, and I look forward to many more exclusives that we can run of yours at the site.
Young Son: No problem. Thanks a lot, Z.