It was only five years ago that Motown fan, southern rap aficionado, and self-proclaimed “milf enthusiast” Yung Gravy was questioning if his dream to be a rapper would work out. But now, with a Billboard Hot 100 hit, six million (and counting) TikTok followers, and plans to release a third album this autumn, the provocative lyricist who answers to “your mom’s favourite rapper” tells NME “it’s all gravy”.
Born Matt Hauri, Gravy grew up listening to everything from Dean Martin to Three 6 Mafia. He leans into those influences with his social media-friendly tracks that embrace early hip-hop and soul music, landing on a sound he describes as “old vintage style sampling” with “banger beats”. Hauri first saw success self-releasing his music to a quickly growing fanbase on SoundCloud. The fan reaction to his combination of throwbacks with 808s gave him the opportunity to walk away from his highschool occupation of “stoner kid, weed dealer” as well as his plans to use his marketing degree, and led him right into a sold-out tour.
For the latest instalment of NME’s In Conversation series, we sat down with Yung Gravy at Republic Records to chat about his viral hit single ‘Betty’, embracing his inner “roadman” with Bad Boy Chiller Crew, and the “Beethoven slappers” and “punk rock” moments fans can expect from his next album. Here’s what we learned.
Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst told him “man, don’t get into drugs”
Earlier this year, Yung Gravy supported Limp Bizkit on multiple dates of their ‘Still Sucks’ tour, telling us that being on the road with the nu-metal rockers was “sick.” “The band is really cool and Fred Durst is such a nice guy,” he says. “The whole band is down to earth.”
Though he only opened for seven of the band’s shows, Limp Bizkit and their audience left a lasting impression. “Their fans are a lot older [than my fans], they’re in their mid-thirties and every day when I would go on stage as one of the openers, they’d be like ‘ok, who is this guy?’” But, Gravy “loved” the challenge of flipping the crowd over to his side. “It was so rewarding every night to have a 20-minute set and within 10 minutes have them hyped and then by the end they were so lit,” he recalls.
He also tells us that Limp Bizkit’s frontman gave him advice while on tour. “I think any artist gets the same kind of memo from a mentor, but Fred Durst, he was like ‘man don’t get too into drugs’” he tells us. “That’s what everyone says, and that’s what I’d say to anyone else [because] I’ve had phases before when I was too into drugs and drinking.”
Bad Boy Chiller Crew helped him embrace his inner “roadman”
The American rapper, whose career started in Minnesota, has seen global success this year, recently playing in Birmingham, Manchester, and London in March. “It was great we had a really good time in the UK,” Gravy tells NME, before adding that he spent some time during those three stops in the studio with Bad Boy Chiller Crew.
“We had a good time, worked on some music,” he says of his time with BBCC. “We just did some real roadman activities. They were referring to themselves as roadmen, which I think means you’re kind of sketchy,” he adds. “But, I’m not really sure. I took it as, ‘this is tight, I want to be a roadman’, but I don’t know. If that’s offensive I apologise.”
Gravy was planning a surprise performance at this year’s Leeds festival
While chatting about how much fun he had during his UK tour dates, Gravy reveals that he was set to make an appearance at this year’s Leeds festival. “I was going to a surprise set with bbno$ (baby no money) at Leeds,” he tells NME.
The rapper is currently co-headlining the ‘Baby Gravy, The Tour’ across North America with bbno$ which runs until December; and explained that a scheduling conflict was to blame for his inability to show up at Braham Park this year.
However, Gravy adds that he will be back in the UK with more dates soon, because the “shows are sick [and] the UK is always awesome” adding that “London was the highlight of that whole tour.”
His third studio album will be out in the next two months
Gravy says the follow-up to his 2020 release ‘Gasanova’ and 2019 album ‘Sensational’ will be out “within the next two months.” “It’s finished and it’s my favourite project yet,” he says. “I had a lot more to do with the production than I ever have before and it slaps.”
He also tells NME that although lead single ‘Betty’ is a “pretty good indicator” of the rest of the tracks, the rest of the album ventures into new sonic territory. “My friends and I [made] the music ourselves, and we’ve got a song that’s basically a Beethoven slapper,” he says of one track he describes as “moody” with organs. “We’ve [also] got a doo-wop type sample, we’ve got a couple of pop, good vibe songs, we’ve got a punk rock joint on there,” he adds. “That’s the next single. It’s called ‘C’est la vie.’”
He says there aren’t a lot of “downsides” to online popularity, other than ongoing “entertaining” beefs with influencers
Gravy’s avid online fanbase includes more than 10 million followers across his social media accounts. However, he says even with the massive level of popularity, he still believes the pros of being that visible outweigh the cons.
“I really like meeting fans, a lot of them are down to earth,” he tells us before sharing that one online interaction, between him and a well-known TikTok influencer’s dad was one drawback of social media notoriety. “Overall, there’s not a lot of downsides other than Monty [Lopez], Addison Rae’s dad wanted to fight me,” he recalls. Lopez split from his wife and Rae’s mom Sheri Easterling earlier this year. When Gravy made a video dueting with Easterling, then went on a podcast, sharing that he was actively pursuing her, Lopez responded with a TikTok video challenging Gravy to a boxing match.
“That shit was just fucking entertaining,” the rhymer says of the video. “I feel really bad for his daughter because he was really embarrassing.” However, Gravy still finds himself unable to take the downsides too seriously. “I’m not really doing shit, I can pick up my phone and film a 20-second video and post it,” he says. “Then I got someone’s dad putting hours and hours into their day, trying to create a beef that I don’t have time for. It’s funny to look at. I get a giggle out of that.”
Yung Gravy is currently on tour, view dates and ticket details here.