Young west or a precocious passion for music
Koo Young-Woo was born on November 24th, 1994, in South Korea. If we don’t know much about his family, we know however that he moved to California when he was in middle school. This new environment allowed him to discover new horizons. Very early he started to listen to different genres of music and the influences are noticeable in his creations today but I’ll talk about it later. However, the rapper didn’t neglect rap at all and he would even have initiated Nafla – they have known each other since they were young – to American rap. For instance, rappers like The Notorious B.I.G – also known as Biggie – or Kanye West would have inspired him. Full of admiration, quickly the young Young West would have aimed to follow the path of these famous rappers.
Young Creation, 42 Crew and Mkit Rain
Chance or fate, but Young West wasn’t the only one to have such a passion for rap in his neighborhood. Indeed, in 2012, with his neighbors, they decided to create the Young Creation crew. The young artists tried their hand at music with their first Mixtapes and did their first shows especially thanks to the MD Fam crew and in particular thanks to the group Souleaf. If the crew had to split up in 2014 due to the fact that the leader EK had to move to another state. Nevertheless, from that time you can listen to the mixtape Montez released in November 2013. At the time, he was already under the stage name Young West. He chose this stage name firstly because Young is his name in Korean and West because he grew up in California on the West Coast.
Nevertheless, like four other members of the crew, Young West was living in the neighborhood of “La Crescenta”. In this way, when Young Creation split up, the five of them kept their spirits up and decided to create another crew: the 42 made of Young West, Bloo, AP, Neil, The Forehead, and Nafla. A mixtape resulted from this new crew, Life is 42 and the emblematic track Bae, released on September 5th, 2014.
Besides this project, musically speaking from that period there are his collaborations with Nafla, AP, Loopy, and DUH MAHNI but above all his mixtape Flight 21 unveiled on April 21st, 2016. Overall, it’s with that project that the rapper started to go for hazy trap songs with slight autotune effects and kind of some metalized sonorities like in the M/V Going Back to Cali featured by Neil. It’s also worth noting that this track is a direct tribute to the eponymous track by the legend Biggie. Young West literally took the chorus from the New York rapper and adapted it to his instrumental.
« I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali »
– Going Back to Cali
It was nice a nice tribute as much to his model as to the region where he grew up!
However, the fact that his longstanding friends Nafla and Bloo decided to join Mkit Rain in January 2016 has also been determining. Then it’s naturally that Young West joined it as well.
If Young West didn’t join the label at the same time as his two friends, his arrival in the label has been very well-thought. While the group was in Daegu for their concert BAD BAD GOOD GOOD, the same day – so on October 30th, 2016 – the SoundCloud account of the label uploaded a track by Young West: Mkit Rain officializing him as a new member of the label.
This is followed by the M/V Zombie Walking featured by Loopy and released on November 13th and by, the same month, two dates in China with Mkit Rain for the MONEY SHOWER tour.
He finished the year in December with the single Somebody and the M/V Swish.
Kind of some influences from the SoundCloud Rappers
In April 2017, he unveiled the single Fall in Love which was, like his Mixtape Flight 21, produced by Louis Maui. Besides his collaboration with Loopy on the M/V ICE released the same month; two projects prevailed that year for the rapper.
First, his Mixtape #OKIDS in collaboration with Neil on June 28th and then, on September 20th his EP LIGHTNING VISION accompanied by the M/Vs New Day and Came Up out It.
Overall, these two projects are more influenced by Bubblegum Trap. Basically, Bubblegum Trap could be described as a trap instrumental with more bouncy and light/zesty sonorities. Sometimes the beatmakers are also using sounds from retro video games or even from cartoons and anime. To give you a better picture, rappers who stood out in this genre are Lil Yachty with songs like Minnesota or 1Night, Famous Dex, Playboy Carty, Lil Uzy Vert and so on (Ed: I must admit that I’m not a specialist on that scene so don’t hesitate to correct me in the comments).
As for Young West, if these two projects are on this kind of vibes, for #OKIDS, Out of the World or even Fly might be the better examples. Meanwhile, in LIGHTNING VISION, you can listen to New Day and Came Up out it to have a better idea of what bubble gum Trap is. The M/Vs are also totally in keeping with the genre. In other words, you can hear these retro and kind of metalized and hazy sonorities while his flow really reminds of mumble rap (Cf Gunna, Young Thug, Lil Pump…). If you pay attention to the visuals they are very colorful with some little drawings or even sometimes full animations like in New Day.
2018, the Emo Rap choice
Musically, things took a new turn in 2018 with Young West choosing to go for Emo Rap. As the name suggests, Emo Rap is a genre with more saturated beats. It’s darker with an influence from Rock music. So sometimes they use samples of electric guitars or drums. But Emo rappers tend to talk about specific themes too. If you want some examples you can listen to Lil Peep, Scalxrd, Trippie Red, XXXTentacion. I did a whole video about Alternative Rock and Emo Rap on the Korean Urban scene, you can watch it here.
So now if we go back to Young West discography, his single Rockit featured by the Japanese rapper Young Coco, can be described as Emo Rap, the same goes for 지구밖 released in July. It’s also the case for the tracks Come n go and BAck released on his SoundCloud. But the most telling example is probably MBST. As much when it comes to the song as to the MV. The dark visual is heightened by shots on a red and saturated background.
This Emo Rap influence is also noticeable on Mkit Rain’s first album Public Enemy released in April, with tracks like Public Enemy, which is also his favorite one from the album, or obviously the title track Don’t Move and it’s saturated beat. The MV itself reminds of Emo Rap with it’s chaotic visual based on the concept of a nocturnal bad trip.
One of the exceptions that year was My World featured by Jvcki Wai. This song was more in keeping with Bubblegum Trap.
As for the collaborations, that year he worked with 24 FLAKKO for the MV Chuck released in July followed the next months by a collaboration with Dope’Doug for the track GO! from the album STARCHILD. He’s also invited by Kelly Green for the track Number Nine also featured by Kay and Jinmenusagi from the album Black on Black.
2019, a year in keeping with the previous ones
Young West started the year with collaborations.
The first was none other than the track flex (flexicution) from Owen album P.O.E.M. II released on March 19th, 2019. The next day was released Young Coco’s album ALTERED. Young West is present on the track Fall.
Then it’s there were no new appearances from him before June. WIKIYOUNG invited him on his mixtape CYBER CITY 666 for the track AVIS STAR. That month he also collaborated with the producer Big Banana for his EP L.A. on the track Missed Call also featured by Nafla and Loopy.
In August he worked with the Japanese rapper Young Yujiro for the track Ghost from the eponymous album. The Japanese rappers Kenayeaboi and Kitchen K are also present on this track. That same month an MV has been released as well.
As for his personal projects, in July Young West released his single Moon followed in August by the 6-tracks mini-album Neo World. These two projects are rather hazy with, just like their title suggest, a space-like atmosphere and you will also notice some glistening sounds.
An undeniably curious artist
If it has been a while now that the SoundCloud rappers have blown up in the US rap scene, it took more time for the Bubblegum Trap or Emo Rap sonorities to become more common on the Korean Urban Scene. Or at least, for a while, it was quite specific to the SoundCloud Korean scene. Therefore, we can say that the rapper is attentive and receptive to the emerging/alternative genres and that he manages to give his own interpretation. Even if those genres tend to become more common now, Young West’s sound is undoubtedly unique. Therefore, some might like his sound or straight-up hate it. Some might also need several listening sessions to truly appreciate it. But one thing is yet for sure, it’s impossible to feel indifferent about his music, and it’s probably one of the most important things when we talk about art.
You can notice this curiosity in his productions, as well as in Mkit Rain’s projects since the rapper is actively contributing to the choice of the beats. From what the other members said, he would even be the one who would have worked the most on the production of their album Public Enemy.
So let’s see how he will evolve!