Mixing Styles with Young Paris

Young Paris is a NYC-based rapper and rising voice in the world of fashion. Having recently singed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, we Montrealers are lucky enough to catch him in action this Saturday, October 22nd with No Kliche, as part of the Red Bull Music Academy.

Here is an interview I conducted with Young Paris, discussing his roots, inspiration, and connections to Montreal:

I’m curious about your relationship to music as a child, as you were growing up. Did you learn instruments or sing in groups? Or was music something you came to later on.

My parents were world renown performers so you could imagine music was always around us growing up. From as long as I could remember, I’ve been playing the djembe and dancing. Music to our family has always been second nature and till this day we still perform together.

You draw from so many different areas in your image, your music, and your live show. It’s clear you are inspired by vibrancy and individuality in all its uniqueness. Are there some non-musicians that really shape your aesthetic approach to your image, your music, and the creative process in general?

Yes, I’m inspired by the fashion and the art world as well. I went to college for Fine Arts and my mother was a play writer as well, so I try to translate those references in my art. Artists / Designers like Alexander McQueen, Basquiat, Nick Cave, and Yinka Shonibare, for example, are artists I’ve been super inspired by.

Congo has a much-celebrated history of dance music, some of which comes out in your music – but is there a Congolese rap tradition you feel connected to?

No, my rap history comes from growing up in NY!

What is your musical community like in NYC?

NY has a vibrant range of musicians. In my circle, I know some of the dopest underground and notable artists but I try to stay in my lane. There aren’t many artists creating my type of music and Afrobeats generally is just becoming very popular in the states.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how art can help bridge the gap between cultural traditions without getting sucked into the mainstream media machine of mass representation and stereotyping. You seem to be navigating it very well – but have there been some major challenges? Is Jay-Z someone who understands your vision?

Social media is a great way to see raw talent and I’m always excited for what the people I’m following are coming up with daily. I think the bridge has been created, but it’s important to respect certain symbols and traditions.

Sacred art, for example, is so accessible now I think it’s up to the curators to translate their inspiration with caution and take time to do their research before shining light on the beauty and talents of these artists. For me and my situation at Roc Nation, I have complete creative control and they are open minded to my ideas.

Any plans for a fashion line?

Potentially 😉 but i will be collaborating with brands as a creative director.

Have you been to Montreal before?

Yes i lived here for nearly 2 years.

Also! You can win a free ticket to see Young Paris this Saturday if you answer this question correctly:

Q: What is the name of his new mixtape?

Email your answer to contactdjazia@gmail.com, and see you at the show.

Young Paris plays Théâtre Fairmount, 5240, Avenue du Parc, Saturday, October 22nd, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00pm). If you don’t win tickets, they are $12 and available through the box office.

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