Young Guru Talks Jay Electronica, UK Hip Hop
Roc Nation's Young Guru talks his involvement on Jay Electronica's debut LP and offers advice to UK rappers.
DJ Semtex recently caught up with Roc Nation mixer and engineer Young Guru to discuss how artists from the United Kingdom can work their way into the American market. He says that while UK artists should reach out to more blogs and websites to publicize their music, he feels the most important aspect of breaking the US market is representing the UK music scene to the fullest extent possible. Using the emergence of west coast Hip Hop in the late '80s as an example, Young Guru says that more listeners will respond to the originality of the UK Hip Hop scene as long as it's not misrepresented.
"[My advice to UK rappers is] just to be unique and to represent your own sound," he said. "This is not to critique the UK, [but] what I saw [when I first came over to the UK] was a bunch of Jay-Z clones for a second. People were taking that style. I don't want to hear that; I want to hear what it's like to be in the UK. That was the thing about about Hip Hop that I loved, because early on, I lived on the east coast. My whole life was New York down to D.C. I didn't really go anywhere else. So then when west coast music came out, it was like a way [for] us [to understand] what was going on with our brothers out on the west [with the] gang lifestyle, which we had no information or knowledge about. That's the power of the music: it can really express who you are, but not if you're trying to copy something else. I would want the UK artists to use their own slang [and] do what really feels right for them, and then that way, I can get to know what is to be in the UK from their perspective...it's just about being yourself and representing."
During the video interview, Guru also talked about his involvement in Roc Nation signee Jay Electronica's long-awaited debut album. Guru said that while he's keeping involved with Electronica's release for business purposes, he also wants to ensure that the LP gets released for personal reasons.
"Technically, I'm over here just checking on Jay Electronica," he explained. "As everybody knows, he's signed officially now to Roc Nation. He's been fam for a minute, but now, it's business fam, too, so I'm just checking on him and making sure his project is going good. He doesn't need to be baby-sat, but just the technical things he doesn't need to worry about, sample clearance and just making sure he's cool. His project is real special to me, obviously, because I love him as an emcee."
Guru also discussed who are his favorite rappers hailing from the UK. He cited London-born emcee Giggs as one of his personal choices, saying that he feels his presentation of UK music is wholly authentic.
"I like Giggs a lot," he said. "I'm getting to know everybody else [from the UK], but Giggs is the person [who] seems authentic to me. And the presentation of his music is very creative. A couple of US guys picked up on him, but I wasn't aware of him. So then when I got over here, I started listening to a lot of his stuff, and I think he's dope. I would really like to work with that kid."
The full interview can be seen below.