Interview: The Rise and Rise of B Young

B Young first hit the charts with his song Jumanji, which came out in January 2018.

B Young first hit the charts with his song Jumanji, which came out in January 2018. - Credit: Archant

2018 was an incredible time for Hackney rapper B Young. Having started the year recording a few songs in his bedroom, the 24-year-old closed it out as one of the country’s outstanding breakthrough acts.

After his single Been Wavey gave notice of his burgeoning talent, B Young’s next two releases – Jumanji and 079ME – went to numbers 13 and 23 in the charts respectively.

Next came an impressive wave of success as B Young’s stock rose and his fanbase grew. Jumanji went platinum. His music videos accumulated 65 million hits. His singles spent 40 weeks in the Top 40.

“It’s actually a mad ting to take in,” he told his Instagram followers on New Year’s Day, “but 2018 has been nothing short of life changing.”

Casting his mind back to the time that Jumanji first started getting air time on Radio 1, Capital and KISS, he explains: “I didn’t listen to the radio too much so I wasn’t really hearing it that often, but when I did hear my songs it kind of hit me – it was like wow, this has become a big deal. I guess it’s always going to feel like that.

The 24-year-old rapper grew up in Hackney.

The 24-year-old rapper grew up in Hackney. - Credit: Archant

“I feel like I meet other artists who have been making music for ages, and I’ve got a long way to go to feel comfortable – (his growing success) hasn’t 100 per cent sunk in yet.”

If 2018 was the year that B Young – real name Bertan Jafer – arrived on the big stage, he has been grafting hard to get there since the age of 12. Initially more involved with all aspects of music production and engineering, his very first single, Spend It, came out in 2013 before he spent the next four years mastering his craft ahead of a flurry of new tracks which dropped in 2017.

Most Read

“I didn’t really know there were roles in engineering and writing; I was just making music,” he continues. “I dabbled in every kind of music, and it was all self-taught from YouTube.

“With my music, because of the diversity of where I’m from, without noticing I have taken a lot of different cultures and fused it in to one. It wasn’t anything that I planned, but a mixture of everything comes in to it.”

So what would the east Londoner say to artists of a similar age who are working hard to get their break in the industry?

“My main advice would be, and it sounds cheesy, but believe in yourself. I’ve had multiple people doubting me throughout my career, and it took me a long time to overcome that negativity around me.”

In a January interview with Capital Xtra’s DJ Semtex, the singer also added: “I think you grow the most when you come out of your comfort zone.”

B Young’s latest release – Juice – came out in November of last year, and while there are no confirmed release dates for any new tracks right now, he tells me there are “singles that are definitely coming.”

“The aim is to venture in to a slightly different sound, just to show a variety of my music. My fans only know me for a certain type of sound, I’m gonna come with different flavours, ones that I’ve been working on even before Jumanji came out.”

For more details on B Young, check out his website.