Growing up, Demetrius “Young Juve” Gray thought his jump shot would take him to the NBA. As he grew older, however, he realized his hoop dreams would take him only so far, but another talent—one that ran in the family—was more in his lane. “I used to just do it for fun,” says Young Juve, the 19-year-old son of Cash Money’s first breakout star, Juvenile, of his own rapping abilities. “Then I did a song with my father, and he told me that I could actually rap.”
That song, “It’s All Hood,” appeared on Juvenile’s 2009 album, Cocky & Confident. (YJ was credited on the LP’s rerelease.) The next year, “Nothing Like Me,” from his father’s follow-up, Beast Mode, again showcased the two generations of rhyme slingers side by side.
Raised between St. Louis and New Orleans, Young Juve came of age during Cash Money’s splash into the mainstream and saw his father score a string of hits, including the 1998 smash single “Back That Azz Up.” “I used to dress up like him and sing to the TV,” says the recent high school grad, who first started rapping at age 10.
It wasn’t until he turned 16, though, that Demetrius began to take his craft more seriously, leaving an impression on his dad. Juvenile is supportive of his kid’s rap endeavors (and plans to put him on his next album), but when it comes to his son, he is a parent first and a rapper second. “School is first, and everything else is secondary,” the elder Juve says. “With a high school diploma, and on top of that a degree, if the music don’t work out, you always have something to fall back on.” It’s no surprise, then, that Young Juve is headed to college this fall, to study recording arts and filmmaking. “I think I can do it all,” junior says.
Like father, like son. —Adam Fleischer