Future Stars: Yungen (RCA)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

The days when SBTV could break a new act seem very distant, even with the resurgence of grime, but they can take credit for launching rapper Yungen, aka CJ Brooks. He first appeared on the channel in 2011, but it wasn’t til 2017 that the 25-year-old South Londoner conquered the UK charts. Until recently he was best known for his feud with Chip (the rapper formerly known as Chipmunk), but now he finally has a hit to his name. After releasing his first album independently in 2014, he was signed up by RCA and has put out a series of singles through the label since last year. His latest single Bestie has been in the top 40 for 10 weeks, currently at its peak position of 13, and has over 12 million YouTube views. A collaboration with singer Yxng Bane, the track has a slow, melodic sound similar to the hip-hop coming out of the US at the moment, but their accents and references keep it distinctly British. While his nemesis Chip is one of the artists tainted by association with the dated London urban scene of the SBTV era, Yungen has benefited from the fact that he wasn’t one of its biggest names. It was nice to read some self-aware, business-savvy comments from him about avoiding being too connected to a certain “phase” or genre of music. It will be interesting to see whether he can use this tactic to build on Bestie’s success, or whether he’ll end up a one hit wonder.

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