Profile on artist Yung Grizzly

Willis Plowman, known as “Yung Grizzly” is a Bay Area rapper who just released his first album, “In My Head” with No Face Entertainment this past August.

In his first interview with Her Campus, Yung Grizzly explains how he got into the rap scene, the writing process of “In My Head”, and what the human experience means to him.

 

C: So why music?

YG: Music is the first thing I’ve ever liked in my life. My mom was the one who introduced me to music. It’s how we bonded. When I was young I would come home from school and she’d be playing music. I’ve always been drawn to music.

 

C: What was the inspiration for the name Yung Grizzly?

YG: Honestly there wasn’t a lot of meaning behind it. I kind of came up with it when I was goofing off with my friends just kind of nowhere out of the air. We started making music and I just kept the name. There wasn’t really a lot of meaning behind it, but it suites me well.

 

C: And why do you say that?

YG: Well I think because like the album cover it’s a teddy bear. I’m more of a teddy bear as a person. I’m soft and nice and friendly. But when I rap, I get really mean and fierce. The name just suites me well and I have kind of grown into it too. I was “Yung Grizzly” before I was really really a rapper. It was my rap name and I’ve always rapped around that name. It just makes sense.

 

C: When did you come up with that name?

YG: I was a sophomore in high school, so in 2014.

 

C: Were you rapping before you were a sophomore in high school? Or did you start around that time?

YG: I started rapping then. I remember I wrote my first song and it was a freestyle for the instrumental for the song “Cole Summer” by J. Cole and the people I rapped it for really liked it. That was the first song I really wrote. I did used to rap when I was in middle school. It was like a phase in the 7th grade where my friend and I that were super into Eminem and would rap songs. We were so obsessed with Eminem. We watched the movie 8 Mile of course thinking, “Oh, we could be rappers or whatever.”

 

C: Do you have any other artists that really influenced you to pursue music?

YG: In my opinion the people - the best writers - in hip hop are Earl Sweatshirt and Noname. Those are the best writers.

 

C: Why do you say that?

YG: Their lyricism is so unique, but yet so meaningful. It’s like every word in the sentence rhymes with every word in the next sentence. It’s not just about rhyming the last bar with the next bar. The whole sentence rhymes. I’ve always been fascinated by that. That’s just so hard to do with rap music and rappers and how it’s so inflated. You really need to show that you have a talent for rapping.

It’s not just about being an MC. It’s not about just being a presence. That has a lot to do with it, but that’s not all that it is anymore. At least for the kind of music that I like what you have to say and what you say has to matter. It has to blow me away. My biggest inspiration has got to be Mac Miller. I feel like I can relate to him a lot. It’s how someone like me could make great music like him. I’ve always felt that I was similar to him because of his style of music and what he talks about and we think about the same kind of stuff. He’s successful at doing that so it’s like it makes me think that I can be confident that people want to hear real, meaningful things.

 

C: How would you compare Mac Miller’s style to other rappers?

YG: It’s hard. Mac Miller is so unique. I mean he does one thing and once he has a style he doesn’t stick to it. He started off with his “K.I.D.S.” mixtape, that was kind of like his ‘frat boy’ rap. Then with “Best Day Ever” he kind of stuck with that. But then after that his music was trash. He didn’t want to quit music so he made something new. It was really dark, but it worked. His albums continue to blow me away. His new music continues to blow me away. No matter what it sounds like is.

 

C: What kind of music do you want to put out? What kind of messages do you want to send to your listeners since you put out your first album?

YG: As far as music goes, my expectations as far as fame and money and getting somewhere with it are not very high. That’s not what I’m looking for. I don’t want to make a profit off of the music I make. I think the best part about that ... would be to make a living off of doing what I love. I don’t want to make a lot of money off of it, because what I live for is having my music be put out there and having people tell me, “That this is real. This gets to me and this is different and this is you.” And the people that know me that is what really matters to me is that what people who really know me and tell me is like when they tell me that I have successfully manifested the person that I am in my music that is the best compliment ever. When I hear that “Wow, this album is so you. I can’t believe that when I listen to this that it’s you. It sounds so professional but it’s so real and it has a meaning.” That’s what’s important to me.

It’s also one of the reasons why I’m studying Philosophy. I want to talk about the human experience. I want to talk about what it means to be happy and why I’m not happy specifically. I also want to talk about what it means to talk about problems and what it feels like. I want people to be able to relate to it and for people to see themselves in my music. That would be my essential role for the music I make.

 

C: What was the process of making the album from start to finish?

YG: Actually, it’s kind of funny. That project was kind of an accident. We made the album in the span of a week. The only song we had ready to go was “Balance.” I wrote that song at the end of my freshman year of college, right before I came home. Every other song I wrote while I was learning the guitar...the first song I have ever been able to call mine was “In My Head, Pt. 1.” I’ve always rapped, but I’ve rapped over an instrumental that someone else made. So for “In My Head, Pt. 1” where I was like this song was entirely mine, I made the music and rapped the lyrics. Finally being able to have something that I owned myself this creative energy totally took over me. 

We have this new producer who’s great, named Yung Jooj. He sent us some beats and after I wrote “In My Head Part 1” I wrote “Human Music” over a beat that he sent us that he sent us a long time ago that I never did anything with. I wrote that song the day after I wrote “In My Head.” It was different, I never made a song like that before. I’ve never written an angry song like that and I rapped it for one of my friends and he’s like my manager and takes care of all the business Z3 and I rapped the song for him. I always do that with my friends at No Face Entertainment and rap songs to get their approval and that they like it and since they like the same music I do and they have a good ear for hip hop. Sadly a lot of the members from No Face were not in Napa at the time so they didn’t get to really hear the album until it was finished. So I rapped this song for Z3 and he  looked at me and said, “Dude, that’s the best song that we have right now.” I didn’t think that I liked it and I was skeptical about it since that’s not the type of music I usually write. Again, creative energy over me again...

 

C: Are there any particular tracks off of your album that people have been talking about that really spoke to them?

YG: You know, I really like bangers and stuff like that. I like slaps, I like party music, I really like everything. I really like that kind of music and music that goes hard when I’m at the gym and it depends on my mood...When I first put out the album I know people would look in between the bangers and really listen to what I have to say and want them to hear it and try to understand me and hopefully catch an ear for it because it would be played after the bangers. I was really shocked at this, but those songs the ones that are about the human experience and not being a person or being sad or being happy like “California Let Me Go” is really about accepting yourself and humbling yourself, but accepting yourself. Like give me a fucking reason why I’m supposed to be better. I think that’s my favorite kind of music and that the people who listen to my album are drawn to. It was in my comfort zone but also pushing me out of my comfort zone because it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there. It takes a lot to take off the mask and tell people what you’re really feeling when you’re staying up late at night. I think those are the best songs because those are the songs I really like and the kind of songs that people really like. I’m really happy that those songs really stood out because that is what’s important to me.

Photo from Yung Grizzly

Outside of music, he is a sophomore studying Philosophy at San Francisco State University.

You can find Yung Grizzly’s music on Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Tidal.