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Yung Bleu took risks with his career – and it’s paying off

The Alabama native is currently on tour after releasing his debut album ‘Moon Boy’

Jeremy Biddle, known by music fans as rapper Yung Bleu, released his debut album, Moon Boy, in late July and it took the top spot on the Billboard Independent Album chart and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 12 for the week of Aug. 7. Moon Boy features 15 tracks and includes collaborations with Drake, John Legend, H.E.R., Chris Brown, Kodak Black, Jeezy, Kehlani and Big Sean. After October’s release of the single, “You’re Mines Still” featuring Drake, the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Global 200 chart and helped turn the now 27-year-old Yung Bleu into one of hip-hop’s rising stars.

The Mobile, Alabama, native started rapping at 11, recording his lyrics on his cellphone while riding the school bus. After the release of his Bleu Da Ruler mixtape in 2016, which included the 2017 viral hit “Miss It,” he sent direct messages to music producer Taquari Hatch, the brother and manager of Louisiana rapper Boosie, in an attempt to connect with the prominent Southern hip-hop artist. After making the connection, Yung Bleu later collaborated with Boosie on several tracks before landing a deal with Boosie’s record label, Bad Azz Music Syndicate.

Before Yung Bleu kicked off his North American Moon Boy tour on Aug. 26 in Minneapolis, he spoke with The Undefeated about his career trajectory and passion.

How would you describe the hip-hop culture in Alabama?

Alabama hip-hop is having a moment right now. Besides myself, you’re starting to see other artists like Flo Milli, Rylo Rodriguez and NoCap put on for the state and really put a spotlight on the talent and artistry in Alabama. I don’t have a traditional ‘Alabama sound’ in my music, but I think our culture is just like any other region’s culture in the sense that we take pride in representing where we’re from and bringing our style to the game.

Alabama is known for its football. Did you play sports? What inspired you to make music?

I was never really a huge sports fan. My passion was always making music. My father is a musician, so his love for the craft rubbed off on me at a young age. But I most definitely support the Alabama football team and athletes from our home area like my guy [NBA veteran] DeMarcus Cousins. DeMarcus played a big role in connecting me with Drake and introducing him to my music. That plug helped me get Drake on ‘You’re Mines Still,’ so I definitely appreciate that.

What did your dad do to make you want to be an artist?

My dad really helped me get comfortable performing in front of people. Growing up, he would make me sing for people and that eventually led to me writing my own songs and melodies. He was a really big influence in my life because he did it all – he played the drums, sang and so much more.

Where does the name Yung Bleu come from?

Blue was my favorite color at the time when I was 11, and it just stuck with me after I named myself that.

What made you want to DM Boosie’s brother?

I was looking to get into the music industry by any means necessary. I tried sending my music to Boosie, but after I sent the message, I was thinking to myself, this guy probably has a thousand people in his DMs right now sending him music. So I decided to get creative, scroll through his followers to find someone that’s close to him and found his brother’s page. I tried my luck, DM’d him and he hit me back and everything came together from there. It was the smartest decision I ever made.

I read that you gave Boosie $100,000.

Boosie supported me from the jump, so it was a gesture to express my appreciation for believing in me at a time when no one else did. Our relationship is more than business, it’s family. Boosie is really my big bro and he’s been supportive of all the moves I’ve made to build my career.

What is the message you want people to get after listening to your album?

I want people to recognize and respect my versatility as an artist and songwriter. Even if you look at the list of features on the album, it’s a wide range of artists and sounds and I held my own. Whether it was with John Legend, Moneybagg Yo, Davido or H.E.R., I proved that I’m talented in different ways and that you can’t box me into a specific genre or style. For such a long time, I’ve felt underrated and I think this album sets the tone for the next chapter of my career at a much higher level.

What makes you different from other artists in hip-hop?

I feel like I am a true musician. I am a writer. I get in the studio and take control. I am demanding when I am in the studio. I am a creator. That’s what separates me from everyone else. 

Keion Cage, a native of Houston, Texas, is a strategic communications student with a minor in leadership studies. He currently serves as the associate editor for The Hampton Script, a student-run newspaper. Cage has written for SLAM Magazine and VYPE Media – a regional high school and youth sports platform.