Next Wave #1033: Kay Young

In Association With Puma

Two years ago, Kay Young was a South London girl who shared her lifelong passion for music by posting tunes for her Instagram following. Today, her socially conscious songwriting and her knack for elegant and soulful hip-hop beats has made this Roc Nation signed talent a force to be reckoned with. – Her big break came by chance: Jay Electronica was mesmerised by her music, passing it on to Jay-Z resulting in her signing to Roc Nation’s management. “It’s one of those stories where people think I’m lying. It’s crazy. I feel so blessed to be given that opportunity, and it proves things can just happen overnight.”

Kay had the chance to thank Jay-Z at brunch in LA last January. “I thanked him and went to hug him and then everything was suddenly in slow-motion. It just gave me so much confidence as an artist and put me where I am now. It’s truly crazy, but I’m so grateful.”

Beautifully accomplished single ‘White Teeth’, and its emotive tale of racial adversity, sealed her rise. “I never go to write a song with topic of it being about race or skin-colour, it just naturally comes to me, probably from my life experience,” Kay explains. “I think the more vulnerable you are, the bigger reach it has.”

“I don’t think racism will completely go away,” she says, “it will always be there. There’s always going to be good and evil, but I think if more people start to speak up about things and gain the courage to call out things that aren’t right then racism will shrink. That’s definitely starting to happen, people are starting conversations and trying to make change but there’s so much more work to be done. I think we just need more allies, ownership and accountability.”

Despite writing, recording and producing her tracks with a total DIY approach, Young also thrives on playing live – something she has truly missed of late.. “I wanted to be able to tour and do shows and it was sad I couldn’t do that. But at the same time, with everyone having a lot of time on their hands, the EP was able to reach a lot more people. But now I’ve got plenty of tour dates and festivals lined up which I’m so excited for. I’ve got a new single coming up, and another EP, too.”

With all that in mind, it’s no secret that Kay Young has an extremely exciting future ahead.

WHAT: Soulful songwriting with a hip-hop awareness
WHERE: South London
3 Songs: ‘White Teeth’, ‘Giving Thanks’, ‘Change’

FACT: Kay Young soundtracked BT Sports’ anti-racism video, which starred England heroes Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson, amongst others.

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Words: Kieran Macadie

Photography: Sophie Mayanne

Styling: Felicia Brown

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