Farai Chideya: Alright, you know it. You were wearing those parachute pants and those kinda-like shiny shoes that you thought were so fly. And you know that — especially if you're black — you had some sort of texturizer in your hair. You were listening to Bust A Move by Marvin Young or Young MC. Now this proud papa has a song that is 20 yrs old. That song is old enough to go to the club. Crazy, huh Marvin?
Young MC: Yes, Farai. This song is old enough to go to the club; get in all sorts of trouble.
FC: Definitely. I mean, your song is a classic dance floor jam. And so, I want you, I'm going to call you Marvin or Young or Young MC. Marvin is the name that your friends call you, Young MC is how most of us know you. So Young, take me back to where you were and who you were 20 years ago when this song hit the airwaves. ...(more)
YMC: Oh boy. Well, I was just graduating college. And I had actually written not only Bust A Move but I had written Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina in my dorm at the Campus of USC.FC: For Tone Loc?
YMC: Yeah, those two for Tone Loc in Los Angeles. So, where I was, I was watching Tone blow up selling 2 and 3 and 4 million copies with Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina and was hoping that like I could even crack an eggshell with my little record.
FC: Well, you know there's that whole term "crate digger" for people who go out and try to find the break beats. It's a lot easier with now with Google. So, when I was searching I found this song from Ball and Jack. «SONG PLAYS»
FC: So, what was it that made you find that? How did you find that?
YMC: Well, here's the interesting part. I'd just rapped on it and Matt Dike who is a legendary DJ in LA, he had the record collection. Like, he was one of those guys that had record collections that took up entire rooms and he had Ball and Jack.
FC: Uh huh.
YMC: So, you know you have that. The beat is ... Let's Jam Radioactive is the drum beat. Son of Scorpio is one of the bongo, is one of the breaks. There's also an element from a Bette Midler disco record.
FC: Get out of here.
YMC: Oh yeah, oh yeah. So I don't know if I'm letting cats out of bags but that's um, and also Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers played bass on it.
FC: Yeah, yeah.
YMC: So there's elements, yeah there's a lot of elements that came from a lot of places but I wasn't producing, I didn't produce that. I literally just came, got a ride from my college dorm to go to the studio and just drop lyrics over the top of it and then they had a girl Crystal Brake sing the hook and the rest is history.
FC: Yeah, so, were you one of those kids that would go to the BBQ and rhyme and your family would go like "Hey, he done such a good job!"
YMC: No, you know what? My family wasn't all that into it. It was a hobby for me and it was a hobby throughout high school. I DJ'd my prom. I mean it just was, I was a music head but school always came first. So I graduated from USC with a Bachelors in economics.
YMC: Um, I was planning to get a regular job. And I basically took the summer to go ahead and follow the music thing and if by fall nothing had happened or I wasn't making money then I would turn around and either go to grad school or get a regular job. And that's the summer of '89 where Bust A Move essentially took off, and I've been doing it ever since.
FC: So we know that Bust A Move has been this cultural touchstone over and over and over again. Um, what are you doing these days?
YMC: Well, I'm still making music. I've made probably about 7 or 8 albums since. I think Relentless I released the end of last year and I believe that was my 8th album. And a lot of the stuff you can find on iTunes and Rhapsody and Napster and all that stuff. I've also been lucky enough to get a lot of the music you don't know from me placed in film and TV and video games. So I have two songs on the latest Tiger Woods video game. I had a placement in Scrubs and Ugly Betty and the latest Knight Rider. That's pretty much what I've been doing.
FC: What made you the kind of person who, at least from this end of the mic. We're not in the same place. Seems like a grown man, knows what he wants, who's not tripping. As opposed to someone who is either the washed up has been or the ego maniac. I mean what makes you, you.
YMC: Um, there's a couple things. I mean I learned early on, my parents raised me real well, so I knew the value of a dollar and I had a plan B. So I went to college, got the degree, so I was ready to go that route; get a job like everyone else and do normal things. And I always had that as a fallback position. So when I'm in there taking meetings with record executives, a lot of times me being college educated, I was as educated if not more so than they were. So, I, you know, it's funny too because the legend's kinda grown. There's people who ask me if I went to an Ivy league school, if I have my masters, my doctorate, because it got around that I took care of my business and knew what I was doing. So for me, that's not necessarily a bad image to have. So I let people kind of run with that. But my whole thing was if this is what I do for a living then I'm really going to take this seriously. It's basically having a blue collar mentality even though you make white collar money at times. You gotta be on it like, you know, the plumber, like the electrician, like the person going out there you know, building the buildings or whatever. You have to be out there grinding just like everyone else.
FC: Well, you of course are still doing music. There was one song, you've got some of your tracks available online on your YoungMC.com website, and one of them that just cracked me up is about social networking and the lies that we tell.
YMC: (laughs) «SONG PLAYS»
FC: Oh yeah. Her favorite TV show was Sanford and Son. And let's see, that would have been back when I was in elementary school and I'm nowhere near 21 years old. I mean you must just have fun with this.
YMC: Oh, a lot of fun. That song is called "Picture on Your MySpace Page." And the thing is, I'm probably around your same age and I got to MySpace a little bit late, got to Facebook a little bit late; not Twittering yet. But MySpace was my first introduction to it. And the thing that really tripped me out about MySpace is that you could pretty much lie about who you were.
FC: In every way.
YMC: You see somebody, in any way, you can see somebody, you know, with the wrinkles on their arms you know, and they're 27. I've never seen so many 27-year-old women in my life. I've never seen so many 29-year-old people in my life. It's hilarious.
FC: It is hilarious. So, Marvin Young, thank you so much.