Buffalo-bred rapper and artist Imyoungworld has been on top of his game. With the support of the BSF (Black Soprano Family) record label, the success of his most recent album BLEU, and the standout single from that project, “WINS & LOSSES” featuring Sy Ari Da Kid racking up over 100k views on YouTube, the rapper is reaching critical mass. Earlier this year, I went backstage with Imyoungworld at his highly anticipated headlining show at Buffalo Iron Works. With an impressive lineup featuring rising talents like Brother Tom Sos, Flexxbabyy, and Bizzle On Da Beat, it was clear Imyoungworld is tapped into who’s next up, and he’s leading the charge.
Upon entering backstage, there was a sense of communal energy. Tucked in leather couches and spare chairs the rapper’s entourage laughed, ate, and occasionally glanced at a small television that was playing the 2nd episode of Kanye’s doc series Jeen-yus. Imyoungworld was zoned in though. Sitting in front of a mirror, while a barber edged him up, the artist was quiet, focused, and mentally preparing. As friends dipped out just before our interview, family eased in. His parents, loved ones, and many others were intentional with their embrace. There was a silent comfort in the air that ushered in our conversation.
“Music for me is all about feeling…I try to evoke whatever emotion I’m feeling,” the rapper shared.
Curtis Vance aka Imyoungworld’s musical roots are distinctly soulful, which explains the passion you hear in his music. Growing up in church, the rapper has always been deeply inspired by gospel music. With that as his foundation, it didn’t take long for Imyoungworld to lean into music-making, and he cites his father giving him a beat machine as the beginning of that journey. Already equipped with a sense of musicality through playing instruments and then venturing out in electronic programs after conquering the beat machine, Imyoungworld beat-making continued to progress. Also, observing who his family and friends listened to informed his skill not only as a producer but as a rapper.
“I was influenced by everything that was coming my way musically. My older cousins listened to a lot of hip-hop and rap, same with my dad – DMX , 50 Cent were big influences for me rapping. And then my mom listened to a lot of r&b and soulful music and she was a big Prince fan…It’s just a lot of influences,” the rapper shared.
Integrating his talents as a producer and an artist, Imyoungworld’s approach, style, and guidance in his music is through observation, creation, and education. Teaching himself what sounds good, how to sing, and accentuating his rap style are all skills he’s developed over time.
“Sometimes if I rap a song, it sounds different than if I was to sing the same lyrics,” Imyoungworld mentioned. “It gives it a different feel so just learning how those two things become tools to kind of get across what I’m trying to do. So, it’s a little bit of influence, you know, just natural God-given ability, and then also there is some conscious decision-making.”
Currently signed both to BSF and Empire, Imyoungworld’s opportunities to elevate his music formed because of his consistency. The rapper connected with BSF shortly after Conway The Machine shot a music video at his recording studio a handful of years ago.
“Everybody was there, and that’s where I met Cityboy. I was playing my music, not with the intention of getting signed or anything, just to fill the ambiance…and he heard the music and saw who I was and he was like ‘That’s fire. We wanna rock with you,’ and then they brought me on tour and then eventually I end up actually signing to them…the Empire situation came a little bit later,” the artist reminisced.
Benny The Butcher who has previously done projects under Empire ushered in connections for Imyoungworld, who last Spring, secured a deal himself with the influential record label. During that time, recording music for Sol and BLEU, the rising artist managed to create a short-form video series on Instagram called Tea Time. Showcasing his work as a producer and a rapper, Imyoungworld kept his foot on the gas even during the process of creating his now-released projects – a necessary skill in hip-hop’s ever-evolving terrain.
“I always believe that no matter what situation you get in, you always wanna have control over whatever you’re doing…I can bring things to the table just like the labels can. You don’t just rely on the label to do things for you,” he shared.
Building out his repertoire on social media and through his music this last year, the release of Sol indicated a turning point for Imyoungworld. Dropping only a few singles since his 2019 project Legacy, Sol reintroduced the rapper as more introspective and transparent.
“This was a really emotional project,” Imyoungworld explained. “I wanted people to understand more of my story and things that I go through. You know I’ve dealt with anxiety and stuff like that over the past few years. Getting therapy…You know I wanted to let my fans get a little bit more personal.”
Integrating his sonic comfort zone: soul music with his experiences, Sol represents a shift in his rise as a talent and as a man. Gospel-tinged tracks like “Working,” “Knophear” and “Eiffel” outlines the continuous hustle and bustle of being an artist. “Vegan” and “80 pounds” finds Imyoungworld in his element, stretching his skill as a wordsmith and producer, among a few other tracks that encapsulate the rapper’s energy and motivation. Also inspired by his own personal beliefs, convictions, and doses of success, Sol highlights the rewards and sacrifices of Imyoungworld’s career so far.
“I’m starting to feel like things are starting to revolve around me a little bit and you know certain things are dependent on my success so I kinda feel like the center of things sometimes. Whether I want to or not, that just comes with being in this position,” the rapper mentioned.
Now riding on the impact of BLEU, Imyoungworld’s trajectory has no limits. Securing 2 record deals, amassing over a million streams, and most recently headlining a show in his own city, it’s all a matter of time before he blows.
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