You’d be a fool to second-guess him
London MC Yungen is going for gold. Quite literally – he wants next album to top the charts and sell at least 100,000 copies to make that grade. “I am definitely going for it. You should care about doing well and selling records,” the rapper says. So far, so good. His Afrobeat-infused pop slinker ‘Bestie’ is currently lingering around the Top 10 at Number 12 – but it’s not enough. “That’s what keeps me going, that’s the fire in me,” he adds.
It’s no real surprise the 25-year-old has that ambition, though. Growing up in south London, he adored fellow rappers from the city who’ve made it to the big time, like Wretch 32 and Giggs. “Seeing someone like Giggs get a record deal and be on TV, you realise, ‘Wow, you can do it’,” he recalls. “When I think about when me and my friends all started rapping, it was mainly because of people like him.” That influence was well felt on 2014’s ‘Project Black & Red’, a cocktail of hip-hop, R&B, pop and beyond. The boy can do it all, and that’s how he wants people to see it. “I think you can do everything on records now,” he says. “I hate it when you get pigeonholed.”
It was a modest beginning, but when his feud with fellow London rapper Chip blew up in February 2016, the mainstream started paying attention. Barbs were sent both ways and diss tracks mocking each other dropped online – it even ended up being discussed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4’s evening news. “When it kicked off I knew it was going to be massive, but that was never my intention,” he admits. Now he’s keen to promote a more positive atmosphere in the scene. “I want to see everyone that is my brother win. We’ve all seen how hard it is to do well – I don’t want to shoot someone’s career down.”
Now, he’s got his head down and is focusing on what he does best: aiming for the charts and preparing to hit the road on a lengthy UK tour next month. “I’m not here to be just another rapper in the country,” he asserts. “I am here to be biggest and that’s the god’s honest truth.” You’d be a fool to second-guess him.
From: Brixton, London
Buy: ‘Bestie’ is out now
Live: The ABC, Glasgow (Nov 16), Academy, Manchester (Nov 17), O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London (Nov 21)
Best Track: ‘Bestie’ – Yungen’s biggest hit is smashing it for a reason – it’s a gigantic anthem that showcases his pop credentials with ease.
Strange But True: Making a video for ‘Bestie’ was a last-minute decision during a lads’ holiday in Dubai. They shot and edited it in a matter of days.
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