When you first look at Curtis Young you are immediately struck by the similarity and likeness to hip hop legend Dr Dre, his father and mentor. However looks were the only thing that was the similarity for the pair for many years, as Young only discovered his patronage bloodline connection to the legendary hip hop producer at the age of 12. For many years Curtis Young would listen to the music of Dr Dre, idolizing NWA and growing up on the streets of Compton never knowing of his ultimate connection to the icon…. Until he did.
After discovering that he was indeed the son of Dre, Curtis Young, as one would expect was in a state of disbelief for some time. Upon DNA testing and confirmation that he was indeed Dre’s son, the 20 year old young man at the time was finally able to meet his father and find out that they had more in common that just their last name and good looks. For Curtis, hip hop was always in his veins as he was already a budding rapper with the moniker of the Hood Surgeon, with a list of growing features on mixtapes around the West Coast hip hop circuit. Meeting and bonding with his father further solidified the legacy that laid within Curtis and he began to cultivate his song writing, rapping and more recently production skills to create a path of his own. As children of successful celebrities, most enjoy the lifestyle trappings that come with being the offspring of the rich and famous. For Curtis, he never experienced it, and had never expected nor entertained the thought of using his obvious connections for the advancement of his career. His journey has been self-made, self-created and self-sustained and it is within those very character traits that lies his ultimate connection as one of the strongest seeds of hip hop.
Founding Forever Young Entertainment which cultivates new, up and coming artists under his tutelage, to providing community supported programs to the people and services that need a helping hand, Curtis Young is a student of the school of paying it forward and in doing so is creating his own legacy for the next generation of Young’s to follow. As a family man, he is a devoted husband and father, but he is also a guy that genuinely loves hip hop for what it means to him and that shows in the music he has created for close to 10 years in the game. With his debut album up for a new year release and aptly titled “Product of My DNA” and the new single “We Get Down” which was released on his birthday on Dec 15th to rave reviews.
In addition to the music side of Young, he has also begun dabbling in the acting world, slated to appear in a new reality TV show called Seeds of Hip Hop, centred around the lives of the children of legendary hip hop artists. Currently in network discussions at the moment, Young is excited and optimistic about the path his careers is taking, with him firmly at the helm. He is already a seasoned artist having done the rounds as so many up and comers have before him, utilising that inbuilt steel determination that his namesake beholds, Young is already destined for great things. The 34 year old hip hop artist has a discography bearing the weight of 4 mixtapes and 1 LP under his belt and is gearing himself for the release of an album that is set to change the game for the rise of Curtis Young and his empire.
I am beyond blessed and elated to bring you this Australian first exclusive interview and truly humbled that Curtis Young wanted to share his inspiring story on my blog. What I took away from my conversation with Young is that of an empowered, hungry, driven and disciplined artist who, regardless of his last name and hip hop lineage, is on his grind authentically and of his own accord knowing that what he puts in is what he will be rewarded to him. From where we stand, the work ethic, vision and hustle Curtis Young possess ensures his reward will indeed be that of a lifelong hip hop legacy his children will undoubtedly benefit from, doing it his way but never forgetting the product of his DNA!
Hi Curtis – thanks so much for your time. How are you and how has life been treating you?
I’m doing good Ms Hennessey so good to talk to you, thanks for having me. Life has been good, keeping me busy and just focussed on finishing my album “Product of My DNA” is really what I have been giving most of my energy to. I have also been developing my own companies exploring film and production called Son of Chronic so that has been keeping me busy and of course developing my own artists and just making sure everything is running right.
Congratulations on the success you have been receiving in the lead up to the release of your album “Product of My DNA” – can we talk a little about the conception of this album, production and the overall message you wish fans to capture when they hear your work?
Well the general message behind it is me finding out that my last name was Young, after having grown up as Curtis Macklemore and finding out who my real father was over an argument I had with my dad that raised me, telling me that he wasn’t my real father. So it basically tells the story of how I had the DNA testing done and found out that my real father was Dr Dre and I guess from that point on I realised that the music talent I had inside me all along was something I knew I was meant to do. I mean I was always into music before finding out who my dad was but I always thought I would pursue a career in professional football (laughs) but as it turns out is not the case. I got into the music at a young age and after that argument lead me to the truth I just wanted nothing more than to meet my dad. After we met, I watched him, I was around him all the time, in the studio while he worked on 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Trying” album, working with Game, just anything he would let me be around to learn from him and help me grow and become a better artist until I was ready. I then built my company Forever Young Entertainment and then started the Son of Chronic business and the processes I went through with that. I did my best to write this album that allows the fans and the curious alike to understand my story of who I was before I met my father and the journey I was on way before I met him.
Can you describe who Curtis Young is as an artist and a young black man navigating the waters of modern day hip hop in America?
The best way to describe who I am is like this, I am a young man who likes to have a good time in life, I like to be positive and I like to understand the obstacles of life and how to overcome them. I am a trendsetter, a leader not a follower and I want be recognised as an artist that is paving his own way and not walking the same path as my father or anybody else in the hip hop community. My personality is energetic, funny, I love to laugh and tell jokes and I cook like crazy ( laughs) and I love enjoying my wife and my kids so that’s me in a nutshell.
How have you ensured that you remain an artist in your right, away from the celebrity of your father and stay authentic and true to your destiny?
I would have to say by not following his same footsteps and staying in my own lane. Those are some huge footsteps to follow and you now that’s not something I have ever tried to do. For me, I follow the steps of the most high and I know that my purpose and path for what I am doing in hip hop is different to that of my father’s journey. I am trying to keep my music as positive and clean as possible, it’s a grown and sexy feel and I want to be known as a new era and trendsetter in hip hop.
Can we touch on how things are progressing with the relationship with your father Dr Dre? I have read a few interviews and articles where a lot of speculation about your relationship with your dad and how you came to find out about him? Not wanting to add to the rumour mill but can we talk about how you found out about your dad and how your relationship is going given your both in the hip hop music world?
It’s a just a dad and son thing to be honest as I am totally independent with my music. Obviously he gives me advice and guidance when I need it but as you know he is busy and busy is (laughs) as I am so whenever we get a chance to kick it he makes the time for me. There’s a lot to factor in with us both but with my dad our relationship is one based on respect and like any father you want your son to be better than you so it is something that I am aware of and whilst I never want to be in comparison to my dad, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree (laughs).
Courtesy of Netshark
You are set to play the role of your dad in the soon to be filmed biopic “Dogg Pound for Life”, which has been slated as an unofficial spin off of Straight Outta Compton? Can I ask how the movie came about, your role in the movie and your thoughts on Straight Outta Compton?
You know what I don’t really know too much about what is going on with that prooduction to be honest, it’s still up in the air at this moment so I really don’t have too much to say. There are talks going on about the Tupac movie right now too so a few things happening in that area, just seeing how everything pans out to be honest. There are still positive talks going on about the reality show Seeds of Hip Hop being looked at by the creators of the Kardashian series and they are looking to shop it to the E Channel and VH1 so we will see how that goes. But you know I am busy none the less, got a book coming out, a clothing line that has a distribution company locked in and my own movie based around Product of My DNA that I am also working on so never a dull moment in my life (laughs).
Curtis, hip hop means different things to different people, it is much more than just a genre of music though. Can I ask what hip hop means to you, how is has shaped your life and how you wish to leave your blueprint in this game?
You know Hip Hop means a whole lot to me. It means life, something to stand for because if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything right. Hip Hop has helped so many people pave a way and has given so many artists life. You know you gotta ask yourself sometimes what is really hip hop? You gotta understand the grass roots of hip hop and that’s where I know as a student of hip hop what was before me and what lies ahead of me in my time now. These new hip hop artists and whatever it is that they do, praise to them for doing their thing, but they also have to realise the importance of the genre they have stepped into and know their history and not fall prey to just becoming a part of the status quo. Are they paving a way for the youth or just part of a trend…… you gotta ask yourselves these questions so you are equipped to deal with the changes that come with any music genre, but especially in hip hop.
What does Curtis Young know about Australia – anything you can teach me about my country?
Well I’ve been to Australia on a six city tour a few years ago with Tha Alkoholiks, DJ Yella and a few other artists and we performed in major cities like Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney to name a few. Yeah I loved it out there man, would love to come back. From what I can remember it was a super cool place so hopefully I will be back soon.
The greater inspiration / influence in your life and why?
I would have say a lot of great inspiration in my life would be my dad Dre, Pac, Jay Z, Nas, Biggie and of course what my dad and his crew NWA did was a huge influence to me from a young age.
“We Get Down” single out now and available on ITunes download for $1
For more information on Curtis Young please visit: www.officialcurtisyoung.com
Always Hip Hop