Yung Beef is a supervillain that just so happens to make good music. He has no intentions of going commercial or selling his soul for the sake of mainstream mentions. The digital underground is his canvas and the brushes of life are Beef’s enigmatic words, depicting a masterpiece through ambiguous phrases, in living color.
The Grenada native is a hometown hero, a title that he wears with much humility. “It’s not just me, there are a lot of people in the underground and I’m one of ‘em,” Yung Beef shares with me over Google Hangouts. Uniquely enough, Beef prefers to take on a more nefarious role in the epic of El Plugg. He’s a villain at heart, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
In a generation of short-lived moments where trends tend to outweigh talent, Yung Beef’s bluntness is needed now more than ever. He’s bringing his brand of street rap to an international audience with little to no effort. Using a fluid, hybrid of lo-fi rap and trap with a punk aesthetic, Beef’s autobiographical riffs about life in Spain offer perspective. He’s a boss, a man of música – but more importantly, he’s happy.
With endearing transparency, when asked about the light that compliments his incessant void of darkness, two words hit home, subsequently resulting in a smile that surfaced on Yung Beef’s face – “My son..”
From landing a Calvin Klein campaign to donning Hood By Air and Pigalle during Paris Fashion Week, Yung Beef’s impact stretches beyond warped production and ominous lyricism. He’s a cultured trapper, as best reflected by his fashionable feats of the past.
Yung Beef is the coolest villain on the block with a keen fashion sense and unorthodox ear for music, which is even more of a reason to stan the overseas phenomenon. Check out our full conversation below, lightly edited for clarity and context.
Talk to me about life in Spain. What was it like growing up?
Street life, ya know. Here in South Spain, that’s life. Everybody do that shit, it’s not just me papa. There’s not many jobs. There’s little work, so you’re forced to be in the streets. When I was 18, I went to live in London because there wasn’t much in Spain, there was a crisis. While in London, I started working in the kitchen, as a chef and shit. Taking the influence from London, I love their music. In London, the culture is very different. After that, I went to Paris to live for a few years.
Bro, you’ve been everywhere it seems like.
I gotta eat papa, what’d you expect (laughs). It depends on the environment you grow up in. Some countries, at 18 you’re a man with kids. In some places, at 18 you’re still a kid, it just depends. For me, it’s normal: everyone in my city is working by 18. You gotta do something with your life.
Your music channels this distinctive hometown hero vibe, like you’re the voice of Latin America’s underground trap scene. How does that make you feel?
Yeah papa, I am – what can I do? It’s not just me, there are a lot of people in the underground and I’m one of ‘em. I’m still in the underground because I like it. I don’t give a fuck, I get money. I get everything a commercial artist is getting. I’m comfortable, I don’t have to sell my soul papa.
At this stage in your career, you’re content with being labeled an underground artist?
Now, it’s different. If you want, you can be independent. 10 years ago, it was hard – but now, you can be independent and get money. I don’t know, it depends on the kind of artist you are.
What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
Now, forreal, I wanna stay like this. I wanna grow as me papa. I’m 30 years now, I have more than I could dream. I just ask God to keep me like this, to keep me with my feet on the floor, don’t get myself in the bad shit. Sometimes, when you grow up you make stupid decisions. I wanna enjoy my kids, enjoy my career, enjoy the moment ya know. My label’s in Spain, my life is in Spain – I’m happy. There’s a lot of artists, I just want my influence to keep the underground alive. Remember that.
Personally, do you consider yourself a rapper or reggaetonero?
I’m the boss ya know. If you wanna ask me – personally – it’s like what’s a reguetón track? That’s the first thing I record in my life. I don’t know papi, I don’t even know who I am. I’m a trapper. I love reguetón, I’m a man of música. To make music is to open the mind.
There’s an obvious balance present when it comes to authenticity and identity. Musically, how do you manage to connect with your listeners while not conforming to trendy customs?
It’s interesting that you ask me that because I don’t know. I don’t even think about it. I’m just having fun and living my life forreal. I can turn my daily life into a song. Maybe people don’t know my friends, but they catch it, they get the culture – people are intelligent. If you give the people something intelligent, they’re going to get it papi.
How does your flair for fashion translate to the music, in terms of your creative expression as an artist?
Fashion is so crazy. It’s almost like music, everything is so fast. There’s no limit. I can be at a party with a couple hundred people – if you’re with the right people and they like you, they can give you work. There’s too much money in fashion, they don’t give a fuck. It’s like, how do you say, caprichoso (impulsive). Fashion is caprichoso.
During your fiasco a few years back with SXSW (2017), you tweeted “Now it’s not that they’re not letting me in at the club, now they’re not letting me enter the country.” Has that issue been resolved since then? I can imagine that’s a significant barrier to overcome as an international act.
That was crazy for me because I was booked for SXSW (South by Southwest) in Texas. It’s something for the label and business people ya know, but the time I wanted to travel and make my show. My label is in Spain, it’s called La Vendicion. We work with USA artists, Latin American artists: we wanted to travel with our team, maybe like 10 people, to Texas and put in some work for the label. Ya know papa, till this day I don’t know why they didn’t let me in. I asked the U.S. Embassy, they didn’t give me the information, so I don’t know.
Is Yung Beef considered the hero or villain? Why
The villain always. I’m a super villain papi. I don’t like this world (laughs).
Favorite song off of El Plugg 2? Why
The last song (laughs). I’m about the end papa. I’m a super villain. There is no future, the future is now.
How do you want to be remembered as an artist and as a person?
Like a super villain, like Dr.Doom. Forreal, super villain shit, es la verdad (it’s the truth). Some people look at the world and they see birds flying and flowers blooming. But me, I see death. I mean, what can I do papa [laughs]. It’s beautiful to me.
Even with darkness, there’s an equal balance of light present. With that in mind, what is your light?
My son is the light in my life. I’m so dark in my mind papa (laughs).
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