Hailing from the home of J. Dilla and Motown is an artist that blends together hot rhymes with smooth vocals.
Dubbing himself Young Scolla, this laureate is prepping himself for success by staying busy on the underground scene of blogs and shows.
In this interview with HipHopWired, Scolla breaks down the musical demographics of his city, why he thinks there’s such fierce competition in the D and more on his latest EP Escaping Reality.
HipHopWired: First of all, introduce yourself, tell us about yourself and where you’re from.
Young Scolla: Young Scolla, Detroit, Michigan representative. Representin’ for Dilla City all day. Just an up and coming new artist hoping to reach a lot of people with a great message.
HipHopWired: For all of those who don’t know, tell us how you came up with the name.
Young Scolla: Well as a kid, I was always deep into my books, like the arts and sports and whatnot. I guess as a kid anything I put my head to came pretty easy for me, so I gained the nickname “Scholar” and it just became something that stuck with me when I transitioned to the music world.
HipHopWired: Being that you are from Detroit, it really seems like from the outside looking in that the Detroit music scene hasn’t really recovered since the death of Dilla, so tell me a little bit about what is it like out there? What is it like making music being from Detroit?
Young Scolla: Like any other city, it’s a competitive field. There’s so many different people that want to be into the music industry any they want to rhyme, sing and whatnot, and in my city it’s definitely a competitive environment. Everybody is out to be successful and out to be #1, but for the most part there’s untapped talent in my city. You can step into the city and really see diversity amongst all the different artists even in just the hip hop scene, let alone all the alternative, R & B and whatnot. There’s so many different aspects to it as far as like there’s those that are pounding floors who have that soul vibe like the Slum Village cats and the cats that really came up directly under J Dilla, Black Milk and Guilty Simpson and cats of that nature, but you also have your Trick Trick’s and your K-Deezy’s who have a more southern influence on their music. Then you have the cats that are like somewhere in between, my land, you have your Big Seans, they speak moreso to the youth, but they’re in that lane of the Slum Village as well as any upcoming artist that you could throw out there. We have a pretty diverse mix of artists coming out of the city.
HipHopWired: I understand that you guys have all of the diversity, but everytime I talk to someone from the Midwest, the first thing they tell me is that, “Oh there’s so much competition and no one supports each other” and they always complain about the radio stations. Would you agree with that? Like it’s so competitive and it’s hard to really get love out there?
Young Scolla: Most definitely, I can’t necessarily argue it, it’s a shame to say it, but I mean the one thing I can say is that more recently the younger cats in the industry have moreso been sticking together and pushing one another and being more supportive of one another. That’s definitely something that I can say is a hardship of coming up in Detroit and coming up in the Midwest, it’s such a struggle, it’s a dog eat dog environment for the most part. Trying to come up and be successful in the place that I come from there’s definitely situations where you have to step outside that environment in order to gain success, and then come back.
HipHopWired: Who are some other Midwest artists then that you support out there?
Young Scolla and Big Sean
Young Scolla: In the city of Detroit there’s Big Sean, Mike Posner, Dusty McFly, Black Milk, but outside of that I’m in tune with other cats like, I’ve been to Chicago several times, so I mess with artists like Mikkey Halsted, Skooda Chose, Freddie Gibbs is doing his thing out of Indiana, I mean I definitely keep my ears to the streets and there’s a lot of cats on the come up that are really doing their thing.
HipHopWired: Going back to you, you rap but then you also sing, it feels like now a lot of rappers are coming out and they’re rapping and they’re singing, especially since Drake got big. So what made you want to stick with doing both instead of going back and being like “I either want to sing or I want to rap”, what made you want to do both?
Young Scolla: With me it’s not conscious. I started out singing and then rap came along as I developed. With me, my music is a direct reflection of the person that I am and how I feel at the moment, so I never go in the studio saying “Ok, I want to sing on that record and I want to rhyme on that record”, it just develops. I couldn’t see myself picking between one or the other, it’s like your children, saying like “I only want my daughter or my son”, you know what I mean? I really wouldn’t be being true to myself, as well as my fans and the people that enjoy my music, by saying let me only do one because Drake is doing it. It’s genuine when I do it, I don’t do it because anyone else tells me to or because somebody else did it and they made a lame for themselves, it’s something that’s genuinely in me.
HipHopWired: How long have you been singing?
Young Scolla: Since like kindergarten, so like 21 years, but really been singing like the last 15 or 16 years.
HipHopWired: Moving on, you recently put out Escaping Reality as an EP and not as a mixtape, so were you a little bit worried that you wouldn’t get that much support because it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be a free mixtape?
Young Scolla: I wasn’t really worried about it. I did it for that purpose, like a lot of times you have people that follow trends and they follow bandwagons. I really put this out as an attest to find out who genuinely listens to the music and who supports the music, but then I also put that safety cushion by making it a tip jar type of situation where you didn’t have to necessarily put money towards it downloading the situation, you just put in your email and you could download it and that’d be it. It was never anything I was really worried about, it’s always been a situation where it’s like I’m very close with my fans, I try to keep in contact with my fans via Twitter or Myspace and Facebook, and so I have what I would like to think of as a strong basis of fans that actually genuinely listen to the music and see where I’m coming from and they connect with that music, so it never really was a problem.
HipHopWired: How’d that work out for you? Did you get some good sales going?
Young Scolla: Pretty well, I mean I can’t complain, it did pretty good numbers. The first 2 ½ weeks I believe it did about ten thousand downloads, so I definitely can’t complain.
HipHopWired: You recently released the video for “Decisions”, so what about “Decisions” really stood out for you and made you want to choose that?
Young Scolla: Decisions” is actually a record that I sat on for awhile, I wrote the hook and sat on the beat for quite some time. The whole “Escaping Reality” situation came into play and it fit the storyline for the project. In this time and age that we’re in now, especially with the economy and loss of jobs and things of that nature, and then just everybody being from different mediums and different walks of life but having to go through those same and similar problems, the song just really fit the situation that we’re in. If you listen to the song, there’s three different perspectives, there’s three different lifestyles, three different environments, but they all have to face similar decisions that ultimately alter their lives. A lot of people have been really giving me feedback saying they connect with the third verses because there’s a lot of college students that have been going through the full four years, they get out of school and there’s so much debt because of school and they can’t find jobs, so it really resonates with a lot of people.
HipHopWired: So that’s the concept for the video, telling the three different stories?
Young Scolla: Yeah, pretty much. I play the omniscient narrator for the video, so you’ll see me kind of pop up among the video, but for the most part these individuals tell their own stories. I don’t want to go too in detail with the video, but it starts out with like an AA type meeting, they meet up and get a chance to start telling their stores.
HipHopWired: Do you already know what next song you’re going to come out with or are you still working on that?
Young Scolla: We’re going to shoot a couple visuals. I know we’re going to shoot something to “Runaway” and we may do something for “Don’t Know Your Name”, it’s been getting a lot of good feedback and we’ve been running with like for like the movies and whatnot, so we’re probably going to shoot some visuals to that. Another thing we plan on doing for the project, that I don’t think anyone has really done, is I’m linking up with a photographer and we’re actually going to do an art gallery for the project. We’re shooting still shots for each song that captures what each song represents and portrays, I’ll be able to let people know more about that soon.
HipHopWired: So what’s next for you? Are you doing any shows, are you travelling?
Young Scolla: Yeah, I actually just got back from SXSW, it was a great experience. Just picking up more gigs, I got a couple shows lined up for the end of the month. I’m just doing a lot more performing, travelling, a lot more visuals, just really trying to keep in people’s faces and really starting to get them to connect the visual with the actual music. I got another project dropping, after I do a couple shows, coming up called ”Potluck”, a collab compilation.
HipHopWired: What would be your overall goal for 2010?
Young Scolla: To continue to make good music, continue to reach the people, continue to give the haters something to work for and honestly, just to keep music genuine. At the end of the day, basically the music that I connect with and that I listen to is music that reaches me personally and my lifestyle, so I just want to continue to be able to do that and be happy and prosperous, that’s all that I can ask for.