To say that there’s no one like Young Braised in the game right now would be an understatement. His music and videos are imbued with his unique personality. Over the last year, Vancouver-based (and soon to be New York-based) MC Young Braised has been gaining momentum.
Between playing shows at summer festivals and dropping his new EP Japanese Tendencies, Braised has gotten the attention of the hip-hop blogging world and Exclaim!. His music and videos communicate an aesthetic that resonates with this generation of hip-hop listeners.
With a mix of humour and outsider commentary, he’s given Canadian hip-hop a fresh look at a culture that exploded into the suburbs in the early 2000s. More importantly, Young Braised is a product of hip-hop’s invasion into Canadian suburbia. And he has no qualms about who he is and how he fits into hip-hop culture.
I was able to catch up with him at Pop Montreal this year, a block from the venue where he’d be performing later that night.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): You’re talking about moving to New York, it sounds like a big move. Is it to get more exposure?
Young Braised (YB): Not really, I think it should be mandatory for all rappers to move to New York for a few months. [laughs] No, it’s just to go and see it and hang out. I’ve been there before but to go and soak it in and expand the consciousness.
RMM: You got that stoner rap thing going on. You got the lo-fi production. You’re just roaming with your concepts.
YB: Yeah, for sure. As far as with the lo-fi stuff, it’s just what’s easiest for me right now. But definitely there’s an end to that. I want to experiment with a whole bunch of different sounds. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as one thing.
RMM: How do you see yourself within hip-hop then?
YB: I think with production and content, I sort of offer commentary about rap music while making rap music. I talk about rap. I don’t talk about rapping as much as I talk about rap itself.
YB: Yeah. I guess it’s that. I never had a background where I held anything of that nature holy. I can sort of make fun of and joke around with different topics. Same with the production. There’s no rap scene in British Columbia [that] I want to be part of.
RMM: So you’re not down with the Vancouver rap scene? I heard it’s a tight knit community.
YB: I don’t know. I know a lot of dudes who are into that side of things but it’s not at all the direction I want to take my music or be associated with at all.
RMM: Talking about that outsider perspective, I noticed you used MF Doom’s Special Herbs and Spices beat collection. Is that someone you identify with?
YB: A little bit. He’s a smart man. He’s branded himself well and makes unique music so he’s a visionary, in my opinion. I can’t really identify with him too much because his whole thing is not ever showing his face. And me, I’m exploring the entrepreneurial side of hip-hop, constantly trying to put the media out. But I love MF Doom. He talks about different subject matter than most rappers talk about and he does it well. I can identify with that.
RMM: On the subject of subject matter, do you have another side to your shit? Do you feel like your going to a different place for your next project?
YB: The next stuff will continue to get more original. I’m finding my own footing. I mean that was the first time I recorded my self with the Special Herbs and Spices stuff. It’s all stepping-stones. Everyone I’m meeting, every person I talk to who does music and work with, it’s all progressing. Both at a human level and the level of music.
RMM: One of the most interesting things about your work is your videos. Like the ‘Snack City’ video. Do you have a certain aesthetic you apply?
YB: I think of ideas with my brother Strawberry Jacuzzi. He’d done most of my videos, he didn’t do ‘Snack City’ but the rest are his. We like talk about ideas. When we get a good idea we shoot and try to turn a concept. The more videos I put out the more I realize that videos are eternal. People can always go and watch it.
RMM: You’ve done some outrageous stuff. Like when you were shaking your ass in the air in ‘Special Herbs’. But then the video panned out and there were two random people there. They were giving that stare like “what are they doing?”
YB: It’s true. Humour is a big element of myself and a big element of my music and it translates to the videos. And, of course, being a little different. It’s not very common for a male rapper to be shaking his butt in a music video. That was worth pointing out and trying out. Since then, realizing that music videos are part of your work forever, you have to take a more curational [sic] approach to it.
RMM: Coming from your background, did you feel that you were schooled enough in hip-hop to do this?
YB: For sure, I listened to hip-hop for a long time. I needed to seek it out and hunt for it, which made it more special to me. My third-person view of it has obviously given me a different perspective of it. That’s what I bring to my music.
RMM: Your latest release Japanese Tendencies got some shine. What was your concept behind it?
YB: Well, I heard the beats a year before it came out; last winter. Terio just made a beat tape with, like, 15 tracks he made. I messaged him because he took it down right away. “Yo, can I use these for an EP?” and he was like, “Yeah, for sure.” So I took some beats and used them. The concept grew after that. There’s this Lupe Fiasco line: “I am American mentally with Japanese tendencies.” It’s kind of funny ’cause I hate Lupe Fiasco now. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. He represented me and what a lot of people who listen to rap went through, like obsessing over the Evisu jeans. It’s commentary on that.
RMM: Terio’s worked with some decent dudes. Is it gratifying that he let you use his beats?
YB: Our communications have been pretty brief to be honest. But I was hyped he was down. He’s not on Twitter or anything so you don’t know what his vibe is. He posted those tracks and he was down.
RMM: Can you say anything about your next project?
YB: I’m working on three different things with three different producers. There’s Horsehead from L.A. He’s trippy and he’s pushing in the states. We got mutual respect. Working with Karmelloz from Oregon. He produced a lot of tracks from 2012. Then there is this collective from Vancouver that is very dear to me. We’re working on something that will very much change the game in many ways. [laughs]
RMM: So who’s this Vancouver collective?
YB: I don’t know if I can say. People will see it coming. Everything is foreshadowing to it. I’ll leave the mystery to it but it’ll be a full-length release.
For more on Young Braised, visit www.youngbraised.com.