"Our Rapping Is a Movement" -- Checking In With '90s Babies Yung Nation
Yung Nation, the Dallas duo of 19-year-old emcees Lil Faime and B. Reed, is seemingly primed for some national hype. The pair tirelessly records and plays shows, their YouTube channel has well over a million views, and backing from Dorrough Music has allowed Yung Nation and Nation Gang, the dance-centric movement that follows them, to grow.
They have a new album due out March 6, Yung Nation University, with appearances from Too $hort, among others. Their next big move is a trip to Austin for SXSW. We had a chance to catch up with them at Dorrough's studio to talk about Kid 'N Play, the Nation Gang movement and their upcoming plans.
So how did you guys get hooked up with Dorrough?
Lil Faime: We've actually known Dorrough for about two years now. He hit us up one day and said, "I see y'all out there grindin'." We were just young kids in high school. We were going to the Skatium every week, you know, where the high school kids go up to.
B. Reed: We just went everywhere in Texas and Dallas. We used to hit spots like Pure, Level 5 and the Mansion.
Tell me a little bit about the Nation Gang.
BR: The Nation Gang is Lil Ced, T Jones and Willie. They're the three frontiers of it. But there's a lot of people in the Nation Gang. They come with us on the road and dance at our shows.
LF: The Nation Gang are really like my brothers. I've been knowing all those guys since elementary school. We're like a big family. Really, they're just taking their dancing to a whole other level. It's their life. They do their own thing. They got their own little movement. Our rapping is a movement, and their dancing is a movement. It's past jigs.
BR: Way past that.
LF: They got choreography. I can't even explain it. They put their own thing together and I think it's amazing.
Have you noticed your buzz growing?
LF: Actually, my brother [Young Money artist] Lil Twist, he lives in Florida so he's out there on the Yung Nation movement. On our new album we gonna have Too $hort and that's gonna be a lot of Cali buzz. Really, it's everywhere.
Have you been out to California yet?
BR: We're actually going [this week] to shoot a video and meet some people.
How did you hook up with Too $hort?
LF: I have a friend that knows him and he hollered at him and let him hear our music and Too $hort felt like it was real creative. At that point, Too $hort got to hitting up [Yung Nation manager] Merk and they just set it all up.
You recently worked with filmmaker Jeff Adair on the video for "Pimp." How is it to work with him?
LF: Jeff has a vision for every video he shoots. He is awesome. If you do a video with Jeff, all you gotta do is give him the camera and let him go.
BR: We're happy with how it turns out. Every time. [Editor's note: Yung Nation shot another video this past Sunday with Adair for "Club Rock," which was House Party-themed.]
So the hair, is that a nod to Kid 'N Play?
LF: That's what we grew up on.
The '90s are coming back.
LF: Some of the bigger rappers right now are starting to wear silk shirts with the old rope.
BR: The big, crazy-looking jackets.
LF: A big '90s person I think out right now is [Young Money artist] Tyga.
BR: Tyga has a '90s swag, don't you think? But yeah, we trying to get on that '90s, baby.
You told me earlier you record everyday. What do you guys get into that isn't music?
LF: We go to the basketball court. We're really good.
BR: We actually got a basketball team. Team Nation.
LF: We play everywhere. Say we go to Mississippi tomorrow, we'll call everybody there, "Y'all bring out your 10 best players." And we just play and battle it out.
If you record everyday you must have a lot of songs you haven't put out yet.
BR: A good 30 to 50 songs that we haven't put out yet.
LF: And, of course, you're gonna get 16 of them when YNU drops on March 6.
BR: Y'all getting the best 16 songs we got.
I noticed your Twitter followers more than doubled in the last three months, and you have over a million views on YouTube. What's been your strategy for generating that kind of buzz?
BR: Hitting the road, every weekend.
LF: Hitting the road every weekend and just giving everybody our Twitter. It's mostly word of mouth. When we do our basketball games we make sure the DJ says our Twitter.
BR: We grab the mic at every game.