Hi Bez, thanks so much for talking with me. Please introduce yourself for our readers
Hi my name is YoungBez. I'm a rap artist from the East end of London.
Describe your musical style in just three words
Feel good music.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations in the game, past or present?
I have a vast range of musical influences, from old school artists that I used to hear my parents playing round the house growing up, like Marvin Gaye, Otis Reading, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaac. People like that. Then hearing my older sisters go from Michael Jackson to Jodeci through the years until I started hearing a lot more Hip-Hop stuff like Notorious BIG, Nas, Tupac, Jay-Z and Eminem. Even though I could name a lot more, these are the artists who influenced me to start writing my own lyrics and trying out different flows.
Let’s talk a little bit about your forthcoming mixtape, Here’s To You. You’ve already given us a taster with a few tracks uploaded to your SoundCloud page along with an official music video for Sleepin. What can we expect to hear from the rest of the material to follow?
What you can expect on this mixtape is fun. It opens up with me punching on more serious subjects and how there's a lack of diversity in the UK Hip-Hop scene, in comparison to Grime and Indie, but how there is enough talent in the scene if artists dared to be different. After hearing the opening tracks I take you back to an early era of Hip-Hop covering an old school classic from Exhibit (Paparazzi) and another cover I call "1996.” The Mixtape then leads into seven more tracks with all the high energy and party tracks leading to the final, "King For The Night”. You can hear all of the tracks over on my SoundCloud.
Sleepin - Official Music Video
You released your first set of songs back in 2007 with Chronicles Of My Life Vol.1, Tired Of Being Slept On, which received a lot of love from the likes of Choice FM, KISS and BBC Radio 1 Extra. How will the music that you release today compare to the music you made back then? Would you say you’ve changed at all as an artist?
It's funny you ask that question because back in 2007 when I released that 1st CD, I was known as "Champagne" and part of the reason why I decided to move forward in my career as "YoungBez" was because I do feel as if I've changed and grown as an artist. I believe now the music I release is more relatable, more understandable and more feel good.
Following on from the release of the mixtape, what’s next? Any live gigs or other projects in the pipeline that we should all know about?
After the mixtape is released I'm gonna continue to push it as far and as hard as possible, then start working on more video productions for the upcoming E.P which I'm thinking of naming "Bez2Infinity." Once the material is ready to go, I will be doing a lot more gigging, you know, getting out there, trying to meet the audience, see the reaction and what the people are feeling, before compiling a complete album.
As someone who has grown up in East London, would you say that has impacted or influenced you with your music at all?
Growing up in East London has been a big influence on my music. It's one of the most diverse parts of the country, the places, the people, fashion and the culture all have influence for a lot of artists from the East end. Many different scenes were created in the East end and a lot of the biggest names in today's music come from East London. It's inspiring...
The mainstream music industry can easily overwhelm the underground music scene and with all the competition and resources at hand can make it especially difficult for those going down the independent route to get their music out there. How hard is it/has it been, particularly as a Hip-Hop artist, for you to be listened to and taken seriously as a music artist?
I will start by saying it's very hard. It's not easy and it takes a lot of work, time and dedication. With all the social networks and accessibility to being able to get your music out there and heard, there’s thousands of artists trying to be seen and heard making it harder for new artists to break through, especially being a Hip-Hop artist. What the mainstream can offer is a larger platform to showcase artists giving you that edge over the flooded underground scene, but with a lack of Hip-Hop events, showcases and exposure a lot of talented musicians are overlooked and forced to continue to push their music through the underground scene.
The main problem UK Hip-Hop acts have is getting stuck in the cycle of being able to release a free mixtape and getting 30,000/40,000 downloads but then releasing a single and not selling even a quarter of that. It's not that the music isn't good enough; it's that the scene has not got enough exposure or platforms that can add some kinda value, and that time is coming.
Here at UD we’re big on championing the Urban music scene and put on various events to celebrate it, including UD Live and Re:Definition. Do you think there are enough events or Hip-Hop nights that celebrate the talents and efforts of people not necessarily tied to a massive record label?
I've been to the UD Live events and I think if there were more events like that up and down the country showcasing and - like you said - championing the urban music scene, then the level of exposure for talented urban musicians would give the scene that push that it needs to compete. These events, how do they impact the scene? Have they got people talking? Does it do the job? Showcases like UD Live, The Jump Off, ILuvLive…These are events that have people talking. The mainstream needs to put their hand in their pocket and give these events the push it needs so new artists, designers, dancers and urban-influenced events can compete on a mainstream level and be taken more seriously, especially Hip-Hop. It's the backbone of the urban lifestyle.
Just a few quick fire questions to round things up: if you had the chance to bring back one artist from the grave to perform/work with, who would it be and why?
Michael Jackson because he was the ultimate entertainer. I'm sure I could learn some trade secrets as well (laughs).
If you could collaborate with any UK artist of your choice right now, it would have to be…
Tinie Tempah because he's diverse and knows who he is as an artist, but I also think if I made a track with The 1975 or Paolo Nutini we would come up with something dope (laughs).
If you could leave your audience with only one feeling or word after performing on stage, what would you want it to be?
The one word or feeling…I suppose it would be ‘fulfilled’
Sometimes you wish people would…
Just be themselves…
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