Fresh from completing the Naughty Boy tour, London MC Yungen is sure to be a staple on many ones to watch lists for 2014 that you will see emerging over the coming weeks. With high expectations undoubtedly comes pressure, but so far so good for Yungen, who has been delivering on all his early promises. The Wrap Up's James Walsh sat down with him to talk about his development, comparisons to Drake and his action plan for 2014!
The Wrap Up: Hi Yungen! First things first, who were your earliest musical influences growing up?
Yungen: I had three older sisters who were all into r&b so I grew up on the likes of Jagged Edge and didn't really discover rap until I was about 10. I knew about Jay Z and Biggie but 50 Cent and Eminem were the artists I was properly into.
TWU: And when did you start rapping?
Yungen: When I was about 13 my older cousin was in an MCing group and naturally I wanted to be like him so I started writing, but I wasn't good then! [Laughs]
TWU: You've come a long way in a short time. What's been the highlight of your career so far?
Yungen: Every day brings a new highlight. Chip and Wretch were the big artists I looked up to at school and now I'm able to call them friends and we're making songs together. I've had a massive highlight on the Naughty Boy tour; performing with Emeli Sande has been incredible. Brighton was a great crowd and the London show in Brixton near where I grew up in South London was special.
TWU: What have you learnt from being alongside the more established artists on the Naughty Boy tour?
Yungen: You see things being around them you wouldn't have understood before. They're always giving me advice. The best? It's clichéd but just to keep doing me, keep being myself. Everyone has different paths. Wretch had a different path to Tinie and he had a different path to Dizzee. There's no blueprint, it'll happen when it happens.
TWU: Your recent single 'Money, Doe, Paper' had a good reaction online. Can you tell us a bit about that track?
Yungen: It was produced by Distortion and it was our first session ever together. I usually take time to write my lyrics but this came from the off - we completed the track in a couple of hours.
TWU: I think it was The Guardian who referred to you as the UK's answer to Drake. How did it feel to be compared to one of the biggest names in rap?
Yungen: That was a massive reference but I'm just keeping concentrated and continuing to do what I do. I don't feel I rap like Drake and I don't sing; it might be because we look similar, but either way it's a massive statement and I want to be big as him but it's going to take more work.
TWU: Finally, What's up next for you?
Yungen: I'm working on everything but the important thing is timing; I don't want to put out anything too premature. People will put out a great tune but then have nothing to follow it up with. I'm just building the fan base right now. I've got tunes ready and some album tracks that I can't put out just yet. An EP is probably up next, but I've got 12 tracks that I really love so will need to either cut it down or everyone else needs to make an EP longer! [Laughs] I've got a date in my own mind for that but I don't want to rush it, I want to make sure everything's done before it comes out. I want to shoot three videos so I have them ready. 2014's going to be a good year!
Stay up to date with Yungen on Twitter.
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)