Gov’t Name: Cydel Young
Reppin’: Decatur, Georgia
Notable Releases: Single: “Studda,” 2009; Guest Appearance: Kanye West’s “So Appalled,” 2010; Mixtapes: What Da Dec Been Missin Vol. 1 and What Da Dec Been Missin Vol. 2, both 2009, The Prynce of Jacks and Royal Flush, both 2010
Currently Working On: Untitled debut album, due summer 2011; The Allies mixtape, featuring J. Cole, Yelawolf, Pill, Big Sean and Big K.R.IT., due this month; recording for Kanye’s untitled album due this summer 2011
Label: Konvict/CKP/G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam
Aligned With: Kanye West and Akon
Side Hustle: Acting; appeared in Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming, 2010
On Being a 2011 XXL Freshman: “It means a lot to me to just be known as one of the up-and-coming artists. I always like to say I got kept back twice from the Freshmen cover, but it’s a privilege just being amongst some of the best up-and-coming artists out right now and being publicized by the biggest hip-hop magazine. It’s a dream come true. It’s what every artist wanted to be. You know they want to see themselves on the cover of a magazine, or heavily publicized, so it’s an honor to me. It’s a blessing and a half. Right before I linked with Kanye, my car got repossessed. Everything wasn’t all peachy, peachy for me. I have a lot of plays this year due to me and this Kanye situation.
Freshman is like a stepping-stone. Most artists think this is the biggest point of their career. This is a stepping-stone to bigger and better things, especially with XXL. I want to have one with just my face on it, that’s the cool thing. I just need to stay working and capitalize off of every opportunity I get.
I have a big project called The Allies—that’s with me Big K.R.I.T., Yelawolf, B.o.B., everybody’s on there. You know, at first I didn’t know a lot of the dudes that were on this cover with me so I didn’t really do my research. I actually liked them. I made a lot of friends like Diggy and Meek. I already knew Big K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf; they’re my best friends. Me and Kendrick Lamar did a record together, but never got a chance to meet. We had just talked on the phone so that was my first time meeting him. So all those things were like a good start to the year I guess. I mean, everybody that was there almost had the same story because we’re more of the Internet era.
We are the guys where we were like, ‘Okay no one is going to listen to us or put us out or take us seriously so we have to reach the people ourselves.’ I even said that to my manager, I was like, ‘Man you know just think about Twitter.’ I have 20,000 Twitter followers, that’s all around the world, imagine if I can get 20,000 followers in one state. It’s like we touched so many different people in so many different areas to where I feel like we’ve got to tie all those areas in. We are definitely doing our own promo rounds. Like, I get paid solely off my mixtapes so it’s funny. But, if you’ve got 20,000 people and say you’ve got 100 people who know you in each state that’s enough people to spread the word.
A label wants you to have three million people following you. They don’t want no street teams or nothing. That’s the hardest hurdle. I’d say dealing with the money part of it, you know most of us guys are really talented artists, but they don’t put money behind artists anymore. They expect all of us to be dope dealers and making money on the side by yourself. And most of us are not dope dealers, we’re just talented people that want to work with music. I feel like that’s what the industry is missing, even with R&B artists. If you’re an R&B artist you don’t need to have a street cred, or no buzz, or have sold 20,000 mixtapes; you’ve gotta be able to sing. You’re going to put them in the studio and let them sing. But rap is different, they don’t want to work rap, they feel like you got to work it. That’s the catch-22 of it. It takes away from the artist being creative.
I don’t feel like I’m no CEO. I don’t want no label deal, the only reason I come in the gate is because I don’t have time to think about a label. All I want to do is music as much as possible. Anything you have to do other than the art takes away from the artist because he’s now thinking about being a CEO or an A&R. But, just being an employee, that’s the part I have to work on, but I love this. "
FOR MORE ON THE 2011 FRESHMEN COP THE APRIL ISSUE OF XXL, ON SALE MARCH 15.