The Break Presents: Yung Bleu
Alabama native Yung Bleu was willing to record his middle school raps by any means necessary.
“I used to get on the bus and just record on my little white Nokia," Bleu tells XXL, reminiscing on his days as an 11-year-old kid from Mobile, Ala. “I used to record the beats off somewhere else to the tape, then play it from the tape recorder and record on the phone.”
He got older and left his DIY skills behind, moving on to more sophisticated recording setups by the time he turned 16. Soon after, he moved to a better part of town and switched his style up, moving away from gritty street raps and incorporating more sung experiences about love. “It put me in a better situation, once I started broadening my vocabulary, broadening my creative thoughts," he says. "It just put me in a different lane, I started rappin' about stuff that made more sense. I started getting into relationships.”
His honest perspective on romance and heartbreak sent him over the top, leading to a deal with Boosie Badazz, after the Baton Rouge boss saw him perform on Instagram. A major label deal came to fruition with Columbia Records in 2017.
In that same year, Bleu’s song “Miss It” took off. The hazy track about a regretful breakup took off online—its accompanying video has more than 14 million views. With 2018’s Lil Durk-assisted “Smooth Operator” knocking on 6 million views and "Unappreciated" hitting the 9 million mark without a video, Bleu is building quite the name for himself. "When Beyoncé be singing about how dudes hurt her, I'm like the male version of that," he explained. "I ain't saying I'm big as Beyoncé—I'm [just] saying what the dudes wanna say!"
Considering that his rap career began on the school bus, Yung Bleu is living his wildest dreams. With the upcoming mixtape Lucci Vandross with YFN Lucci, loads of adoring fans (they even stormed his tour bus) and the tutelage of Boosie, he can’t lose. Learn more about the Southern upstart in the latest edition of XXL’s The Break.
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
I grew up listening to: "Boosie [Badazz], Tupac [Shakur], Lauryn Hill, Luther Vandross. Any old Luther inspired me to start making music. ‘Pac, that was like one of my favorite artists, all of them made me start wanting to get into the music.”
My style’s been compared to: “When I first started rapping, a lot of people said I sound like Future, but people don't really say that no more. They used to say I sound like Kevin Gates. When you first come out, the first thing people gon' do is say, ‘Well, who he sound like?’ But then, once they start getting into your music and start seeing your topics and stuff like that, they don't really make no comparisons no more.”
Most people don’t know: “I’m one of the few people that really admit when they get cheated on in songs. If I done got cheated on or did wrong, I'ma tell you in a song.”
My standout records to date have been: "'Ice On My Baby' creeping up on 'em. It ain't even hit the radio yet and everybody know it, everywhere I go. I can go to Milwaukee, anywhere, they gon' already know the records, just because of the internet. So I feel like, 'Miss It' wasn't doing that for me right away, so I feel like once I really like put my pedal on this records, it prolly be the biggest record I have, right now.”
My standout moments to date have been: “Signing to Boosie and prolly Wiz [Khalifa wanting to work with me]. He kinda like the biggest artist that done reached out to me; I just feel like, if he wanna mess with me, I must really got some music that's hitting people.”
My goal in hip-hop is: ”I'm not gon' say I just wanna go platinum; I just wanna be remembered. I wanna make an impact to where, 10 years from now, you still listen to my music. That's why my albums gone be deep. 'Miss It' gon' go down like a song that you gon' always be able to listen to.”
I’m going to be the next: "Superstar."
"Ice On My Baby"
"Smooth Operator" Featuring Lil Durk
See New Music Releases for June 2018