While Wale and Fat Trel are leading the forefront in the Washington D.C. hip-hop scene, Yung Gleesh is up next to blow. The 23-year-old MC got his name recognized from the off-kilter single “Skrong” and his Yung Lean-assisted “Its Sad Boy,” which were highlights of his budding music career. Another odd gem that followed in 2013 was “Lazyness,” produced by Zaytoven, and showed Gleesh had an eccentric appeal. Not many street rappers fall in his lane, and the outlandish style has piqued interest of rap fans looking for another unknown star in the category.
In similar fashion to the crazy output of Gucci Mane, the Cleanside native is focused on creating his own movement without the help of a big co-sign. Although he’s been approached by Gucci’s 1017 Bricksquad, Chief Keef’s GBE, and Fat Trel’s Slutty Boyz, Gleesh has only been associated with each of them at one point in time. He’s never signed a contract because he strongly believes he’ll be your favorite rappers’ favorite rapper soon enough.
Today, XXL is premiering the William Hoopes-directed video for “Gleechie”—a D.C. slang term that sums up hip-hop’s growing fixation with the DMV and its artists cultivating a major buzz. In The Come Up, we sit down with Yung Gleesh to speak about his early influences, meeting Gucci Mane for the first time, and what we can expect next from him in the future. Everything’s gleechie.—Eric Diep
XXL: What makes you different from the other D.C. rappers out now?
Yung Gleesh: We all the same because we all act the same. We all from D.C. Our mentality [the same], we don’t act the same. How we think like deep down inside. Like, ‘fuck that nigga” and ‘fuck that nigga.’ It’s all the same. Differently, I just speak my mind. I guess everyone else don’t speak their mind. I guess they 16 and they fufu or something.
Have you been living in D.C. all of your life?
Yeah, I’ve been all around the world and shit, but I always go back home.
Where have you lived elsewhere?
I’ve lived in Germany. I’ve lived in Paris. I’ve lived in Africa. New York. California. Mexico. I’ve been to Atlanta. Shit, everywhere. Australia.
I think I read that your dad was in the army. Is that why you are always traveling?
I was an army brat.
What was the favorite place you lived at?
I ain’t really lived with him too much. I just spent a couple of summers with him. That’s it. Wherever he was at type shit, that’s where I spent when he was in Germany. None of them were really crazy. Not one of them in particular. They are all different experiences and they are all the same shit. It’s all something different every time.
How did you get into rap? What was that moment where you wanted to be a rapper?
Roger Beat. When I first made a song over a Roger beat. I heard of Roger Beat, a producer out of D.C. He was in my band [where] I came up. I already got famous in the city. I’ve been there doing music and shit. GoGo bands and shit. The nigga Roger Beat, he was a keyboard player in our band. I played with Roger and Roger ended up making beats for local rappers in the city. He’s fucking around and joking off his high shit. ‘Maybe, you should start rappin’.’ I fucked around and got on there and then he’s like, ‘Shit. That nigga kind of go.’ He was bullshitting after that. I went full throttle with it. I see something and I went with it.
Rodger Beats was the one who encouraged you to do it?
Not necessarily encourage me, but I would never had [done] that if I did. It was on some high shit. It was one some spur of the moment–weed heads. ‘You should fuck around and get on some songs.’ The song really didn’t come about. You know what I mean? I ended up writing a verse. I liked it. I kept writing. I had kidnapped his ass for a week. We sparked endless weed and figured all that out and had him just make beats. I’m just writing. There were pages full in the whole room. I felt like Beethoven and shit.
What was the joint that popped off for you?
Every song built my buzz. First four songs I dropped, I ain’t know what I was doing. I was just dropping shit. Even them joints, it did what it did to get me to the next level. The next joint got me to the next level. Everything got me to the next level. My first joint I dropped was “Dees Boys.” A lot of people who really don’t know about me, don’t know that joint. A lot of people who are hip to me, don’t know about it. A lot of who really is hip to me, hip to that joint. That was my first song. The second was “Get Paid.” That right there I feel like it was realest shit I ever made.
I feel like they get overlooked for one song named “Skrong.” That’s the song that everybody would say that got me to where I am. That’s the joint that everybody love. It’s kind of weird—bittersweet. That’s one of the songs that I fucked with when I first recording. When I was playing it, especially for people like Rodger. I was playing it for Rodger. Everybody’s not trying to hear this shit. ‘Fuck that shit.’ So I turned it off, but it’s like there was no reaction to that shit. Then I dropped the shit on YouTube, everybody’s like “Aw, we love it.” Man, it’s the same shit I’ve been playing. It’s like bittersweet. By the time everybody reaching to it like I thought I would, it was too late. I was already on some new shit.