Yungen has shared ‘Popstar’ – the lead single on his newly-announced project, ‘Passionate & Paranoid’. Check it out below along with NME’s interview with the south London rapper.
‘Popstar’, an explosive and high-energy reiteration of the rapper’s identity, looks to highlight the multi-million streaming Yungen’s dedication to sticking to his roots rather than getting swept up by success.
“The reason I wanted that to be the song I led with was because, looking back, I had ‘Bestie’ and I was on the single ‘Bad’ which did really well,” he told NME. “I think I felt a change around me, that people started thinking, ‘Oh, he’s gone. You’re a popstar, you’re gone.’ When really, I was just the same person the whole time.”
He continued: “So ‘Popstar’ was kind of that idea in a song – basically saying, ‘You thought I was a popstar but really, I’m just the same person I always was’. I think that was an important message to get out to the public as well – like, look I can still rap, I’m not this popstar that you’re only gonna see with the glitz and glamour.”
The release of ‘Popstar’ follows Yungen’s recent debut ‘Daily Duppy’ freestyle and ‘P&P Freestyle’, marking his first new music since 2020’s ode to Liverpool FC ‘Mané & Salah’ and ‘Handsome’ featuring M24.
“I was actually quite overwhelmed,” Yungen told NME about ‘Daily Duppy’. “Because I haven’t released in so long, I kind of forgot what that feeling was like. But it was a good feeling. I’ve been getting a lot of love and not even just online. Some of my peers and friends have been messaging me privately saying it’s so good to have you back.”
Following his self-released double album ‘Project Black & Red’ in 2014, Yungen went on to collaborate with the likes of Krept & Konan, Stormzy and Wretch 32. In 2017, he released his first UK Top 10 single ‘Bestie’ featuring Yxng Bane and in the same year, featured on Steel Banglez’s ‘Bad’, alongside MoStack, Mr. Eazi and Not3s.
“If I’m dead honest, I was planning on coming back last summer but things happened in my personal life,” Yungen explained when asked about his return. “I ended up losing my granddad so it just wasn’t the right time. But it’s given me more time to think and more time to plan and prepare, really.”
Yungen knew early on that he wanted to make his return with a ‘Daily Duppy’ instead of an ordinary single because “when you release big records like ‘Bestie’, people can sometimes lose track of who you are as an artist”. He continued: “I think it was important for me to come back and show my lyrical content.”
‘Passionate & Paranoid’ is predominantly a rap record, according to Yungen, differing from his previous more song and freestyle-based releases. “I think with this one, I was in a rap mode,” he said. “I wanted to just rap. I can’t even put it in any other way. Usually I take a lot of time writing and going back and changing stuff. But with this project, it wasn’t really like that. I think every song I recorded is actually on the project, bar one. So it kind of shows the place I was in.”
He added: “It basically explains the split personality of me. It’s funny because when I first told my friend the name, he said ‘bro – that explains you to a tee! You couldn’t have thought of a better name!'”
Admitting that ‘Passionate & Paranoid’ initially “sounded very different to what it sounds like now”, Yungen said that the drama unfolding in the wider world and his personal life meant that he couldn’t help but be affected.
“It changed the direction of [the music], which I’m really happy about actually, because I ended up just going in and making what I was feeling instead of actually trying to be smart and trying to make big songs,” he said.
The upcoming project also includes some guest features from Ghetts, Krept & Konan and Avelino. “With this project, I wanted to work with people that I genuinely think are the best rappers. Nothing was forced,” he said. “Ghetts, for example – he was one of the reasons that I started wanting to be an MC and wanting to be a rapper. And Avelino, I think he’s one of the best rappers in the country. I don’t think he gets enough credit.”
With the release of this new single and ‘Passionate & Paranoid’ due imminently, Yungen said that he was naturally hopeful that he’ll be able to see crowds again soon. “This is the longest period I’ve gone through without doing shows,” he noted. “And it’s been very weird if I’m honest with you, but I’m hopeful.
“I just want everyone to know that this is the last time I’m going to be away for this long. Obviously, I have my reasons and I think this project is a very insightful look into my life. Sometimes, I find it hard to express things other than in music and this project explains what I’ve been going through. I’ve felt lost in the last two years, not being able to release all the time. And I don’t want that feeling ever again.”
In an interview with NME in 2017 following the release of ‘Bestie’, Yungen spoke of his influences and made his ambitions clear. “Seeing someone like Giggs get a record deal and be on TV, you realise, ‘Wow, you can do it’. When I think about when me and my friends all started rapping, it was mainly because of people like him.”
He added: “I’m not here to be just another rapper in the country. I am here to be biggest and that’s the god’s honest truth.”
Yungen releases ‘Passionate & Paranoid’ on February 11.