By Geoffrey Rowlands
You might expect a rapper named Yungen to still be in his teens. But the man born Clive ‘C.J.’ Brooks is now a not quite so young 25. Not that he has any thoughts about changing his stage name.
“I got the name Yungen when I was a kid from being the youngest in a group of friends on my estate in South London. I started rapping when I was very young so the name was appropriate back then. Maybe it isn’t so much now but I’ve only recently become widely known among mainstream music fans so I’m not going to create any confusion by changing my name.”
Yungen has been enmeshed in music since childhood. But he only got into rap around 2003 with the emergence of 50 Cent.
“I have three sisters who were massively into R&B. My dad did some work as a hip hop DJ but my sisters played their music almost all the time so I was much more into R&B. Even now, I probably listen to more R&B than rap.
“50 Cent was the first rapper I was into. I was about 12 then. I wanted to be like 50 Cent. Giggs was the first British rapper I really got into. He was from an estate, the same kind of environment as me. I saw him on TV. He was doing well. This made me realise I could have a go.
“I’d already been writing for a while. It was just a personal outlet at first. But seeing Giggs persuaded me to put my stuff out there. I released my first mixtape, Tha New Era Project, in 2009.”
Yungen released several tracks over the following few years. They didn’t attract too much interest outside hip hop circles but inside was a very different matter. In 2011, his first Warm Up session for SB.TV drew enormous critical acclaim. He recorded with Tinchy Stryder and launched his own Forever Yung clothing line.
“My fan base wasn’t limited to hip hop. I did songs in various genres, rap, grime, R&B. I just love music so I’ve never wanted to restrict myself to one particular style. I was a successful artist but the average mainstream music fan had probably never heard of me.”
This began to change in 2014 with the release of his debut album, Project Black & Red.The LP gave Yungen his first U.K. mainstream chart entry and earned him a nomination for Best UK Newcomer at the 2015 MOBO Awards. It also provoked a feud with North London rapper Chip, formerly Chipmunk, which was spoken about on Channel 4 News.
Chip, who won Best U.K. Newcomer at the 2008 MOBOs, apparently felt Yungen did not deserve his nomination. This opinion was expressed in a diss track. Yungen replied with a track dissing Chip and the two rappers went on to exchange a series of tracks verbally poking each other in the ribs.
“It wasn’t that serious,” Yungen stated. “It was really just a bit of fun. One of Chip’s disses was that his mum’s house was nicer than my mum’s. There was nothing violent. If you watch the videos and see the look on my face, you’ll realise I found the whole thing funny. But there were some people who did think it was serious and that wasn’t a good thing.
“I can’t say I’m mates with Chip but we’re okay, we’re not enemies. The feud probably helped both of us. It got on the news. People were watching and talking about us. We both had to show how good we were. That’s why I put so much time and effort into the videos.”
A new album should be coming soon but Yungen is currently enjoying by far the biggest mainstream hit of his career with the single, Bestie. The track also features East London rapper, singer and remixer Yxng Bane. It is the first UK top ten hit for both artists.
“It’s a special feeling to have such a big hit,” Yungen smiled. “I was really excited when Bestie became one of the top 50 songs on the Spotify Hot Hits UK playlist. You really want to be on that. I got a call from my manager to say it was on and we went out to celebrate. But going top ten on the official mainstream chart, that is something else again.”
Yungen freely admits to being spontaneous. This trait could hardly be better displayed than in the creation of the video for Bestie.
“I was on holiday in Dubai. I’d previously performed there and absolutely loved the place. We hadn’t filmed a video for Bestie and it just occurred to me that Dubai would be the perfect location for the video. I phoned Bane, he was free, so I told him to come to Dubai and shoot the video with me.”
The Bestie video, posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UQoHSo9-Io, has now amassed well over 14 million views.
Tinchy Stryder, Wretch 32 and Lethal Bizzle are just a few of Britain’s black music main players who have used social media postings to express their sadness and respects following the death of Luke Monero, rather better known as Major Ace.
A founding father of the UK grime music scene, Major Ace was a member of the Pay As U Go Cartel who achieved a breakthrough mainstream hit for grime when their Champagne Dance reached number 13 in 2002. Although the crew disbanded later that year, it was effectively the launching pad for artists such as Wiley, Gods Gift, Maxwell D and several others who have enjoyed successful careers.
Although Major Ace was also a member of Special Delivery and East Connection, their work made little impression on mainstream listeners. But his legendary status in grime circles is confirmed by the outpouring of grief at his passing.
Major Ace was diagnosed with a brain tumour three years ago. Sadly, nothing could be done. He was cared for by his mother and younger brother, Cass, who gave the news of his death on Instagram.
The video for Pay As U Go Cartel’s Champagne Dance is available to view at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RTt7k6dtVE
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones will release a new double album on December 1. But On Air contains no new tracks. It is made up entirely of songs performed by the band for BBC radio programmes originally broadcast between 1963 and ’65.
The tapes have been de-mixed. This process allowed recording engineers to access the original instrumentation and voices within each track. The songs could then be rebuilt, rebalanced and remixed to achieve a fuller, more substantial sound.
Although On Air features no new material, the album does include eight songs which the band never recorded for albums or singles.
The first promotional release is the new album version of their debut single, Come On. An obscure Chuck Berry song from 1961, the band’s initial recording was rejected by Decca Records bosses as dreadful. Their re-recorded version, aided by a number of television appearances, peaked at number 21 on the UK chart in September, 1963.
The song now differs from the 54-year-old single. The new remix features more of Brian Jones’ and Bill Wyman’s backing vocals while Keith Richards’ guitar and Brian’s harmonica are also more pronounced.
An audio posting of the song can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCUxr-nyx5Q. The 1963 Come On is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUVs0kdF2Vg
The On Air album is an audio partner to a recently published book, The Rolling Stones On Air. It chronicles the band’s rise to fame in the 1960s told through their television and radio appearances.
The 320 pages feature exclusive interviews not just with the band but also producers and directors who worked with them during the decade. It also contains never before seen photos, letters written by the band members and documents from the BBC archives.
2016 X Factor winner Matt Terry has just released his second solo single, Sucker For You.
The Bromley-born singer / songwriter peaked at number three in the UK chart with his debut single, When Christmas Comes Around. He hit number one as part of Artists For Grenfell’s cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water and reached the top ten this past August as a guest artist on the Enrique Iglesias track, Subeme la Radio.
As yet, there is no video to accompany Sucker For You. But Matt has revealed it is a very personal song.
It’s about the darker side of love. We’ve all been in that position where we know a relationship is toxic and not good for us but we sometimes ignore it and refuse to let go.
“I wrote Sucker For You when I was going through exactly that kind of situation. The lyrics tell a tale of heartbreak but the melody is not sad or depressing . That’s because I’ve come out the other side and I’m happy now.”
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