Marvin Young aka Young MC
Marvin Young (aka Young MC) was born May 10, 1967 in the town of Neasden in London, England. His family left England and came to Queens New York near Hollis, home of Run-DMC. In 1977 at the age of 10, Marvin Young witnessed the technique of live rapping for the first time in his friend Jeff Taylor’s basement. Marvin was hooked instantly, and Young MC was born.
At such a tender age, Young MC couldn’t remember all of his rhymes so he read them, carrying them around in a plastic bag. One night a shootout broke out at a block party and he had to run off without his bag. Despite getting it back the next day, that incident taught Young MC the lesson of memorizing his rhymes for performance. Ironically he still has his childhood habit today, reading his rhymes in the studio for all his recordings, even if he does have them memorized beforehand.
Young MC’s early musical influences included Chic, KC and The Sunshine Band, Parliament Funkadelic, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, The Eagles, Kool & The Gang and many others. Going through his father’s huge vinyl collection, and hearing what his DJ friends were playing helped form the foundation of his musical approach. As a teenager, rapping to everything from “Good Times” and “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” to the original Aerosmith “Walk This Way”, and Billy Squier’s “Big Beat” laid the groundwork that allowed Young MC to be comfortable with making accessible, crossover rap music once he got the chance to sign a professional record deal.
In September 1987, during his 3rd year at the University Of Southern California in Los Angeles, Young MC was put in touch with Mike Ross, one of the owners of Delicious Vinyl. Young rapped over the phone for Mike Ross and Matt Dike, with lyrics that would later be included in his songs “I Let ‘Em Know’ and ‘My Name Is Young’. Literally one week later, the founders of Delicious Vinyl delivered a recording contract to Young MC’s dorm room on the USC campus.
While completing his last 2 years at USC, Young MC helped write “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina” for Tone Loc. A little known fact is that the first station to play Wild Thing was KROQ, better known for its specialty of cutting-edge alternative rock. “Wild Thing” achieved multi-platinum status in 1988, with sales totaling nearly 4 million copies. “Funky Cold Medina” achieved multi-platinum status in 1989, selling well over 2 million copies and establishing Marvin Young as a groundbreaking songwriter with his first two songwriting efforts.
During the same period, Young MC began recording with Delicious Vinyl. Having no car yet, Young was driven from the USC campus to his sessions by Orlando Aguillen, the head of promotion at Delicious Vinyl. The studio was located in Matt Dike’s apartment, a modest walk-up over Santa Monica Blvd. with a 16-track mixing board in the living room and the vocal booth in the closet, complete with an old mattress used for soundproofing.
Young MC established himself as an artist, first releasing “I Let ‘Em Know”, “The Fastest Rhyme”, and “My Name Is Young” in the spring of 1988 on a blue-label 12-inch vinyl which is the only true independent release of Young MC’s early career. All 3 tracks were played in heavy rotation on KDAY in Los Angeles, helping him develop a strong underground following on the West Coast before pop radio even heard of Young MC.
In the fall of 1988, Young MC released “Know How” on Delicious Vinyl/Island which was his first release with major distribution. From the fall of ’88 to the spring of ’89, Young MC recorded the rest of his debut album “Stone Cold Rhymin’” while completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from USC. “Bust A Move” was the last song recorded for his album, a direct reaction to Tone Loc’s success with two up-tempo dance/rap tracks.
The music video for “Bust A Move” was released within a week of his graduation from USC. The lyrics to “Bust A Move” were written by Young MC in 90 minutes in his campus apartment at USC. The lyrics were never edited; he recorded his first draft to the track. The bass line featured in “Bust a Move” was played by Flea, the legendary bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea also appeared in the music video for “Bust A Move”, wearing pants that still evoke comments more than 20 years later. The female vocals in “Bust A Move” were sung by Stevie Wonder’s studio background vocalist Crystal Blake, not Diana Ross as was rumored at the time.
“Stone Cold Rhymin’” was released in May 1989, and Young MC went on tour to promote his debut album. He made a deal with his parents that if his music career did not succeed that summer, that he would attend graduate school in the fall of 1989. Succeed is an understatement for what began for Young MC in the summer of 1989. Both “Bust A Move” the single, and “Stone Cold Rhymin’” the album would achieve multi-platinum status before the end of 1990.
Contrary to popular belief, “Bust A Move” only managed to reach #7 on the Billboard Pop charts, but it remained on the Billboard Pop charts for 40 weeks. It outlasted Young MC’s 2nd single “Principal’s Office” (Billboard Pop #33) which was nearly a gold single in its own right, as well as his 3rd release “I Come Off” (Billboard Pop #75). On the heels of Tone Loc’s success, it was obvious that a new sound in hip-hop music was being established in the recording industry.
In early 1990, Young MC won the American Music Award for Best Rap Artist. He also won the Billboard Award for the Best New Pop Artist, the first time that award had been given to a Rap Artist. In February 1990 Young MC won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. His win was the first time that the Rap Grammy presentation was televised. The historic significance was not lost on Young MC when he stated in an interview: “The Grammy Award establishes and solidifies your career as something special. From that day forward, I was known as “Grammy Winner Young MC”. Not bad for a kid from Hollis who ran around with a bag of rhymes.”
Also in 1990, Young MC made a breakthrough which would resonate through hip-hop as well as the advertising industry for decades. Young MC was chosen to be the spokesman for Pepsi’s “Cool Cans” media advertising campaign. Young MC filmed a television commercial and recorded two radio commercials for Pepsi using his own original music and lyrics. The television commercial was shown in 95% of Pepsi bottlers markets in the U.S. Several of these markets had never shown a hip-hop television commercial before, believing a rapper could not be an effective spokesperson for a nationwide campaign. The campaign proved to be so successful, Pepsi renegotiated Young MC’s original contract to include him in a similar campaign for Taco Bell.
“Stone Cold Rhymin’” was the one album that many people remember from Young MC. However, to date he has recorded eight studio albums, and has released an online collection of material, much of which was never released commercially. The albums include “Brainstorm”, “What’s The Flavor”, “Return Of The One Hit Wonder”, “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”, “Engage The Enzyme”, “Adrenaline Flow” and “Relentless”. Young MC also released “B-Sides, Demos and Remixes”, a collection of unreleased and re-recorded material created over a 14 year period.
Young MC’s next two releases, “Brainstorm” and “What’s The Flavor” were released in the early 1990’s on Capitol Records. Capitol had just sold 15 million copies of MC Hammer’s album “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em”, which signaled the peak of the pop-rap phenomenon that Young MC helped usher in. “Brainstorm” shipped gold, and featured the single “That’s The Way Love Goes” (Billboard Pop #54). “What’s The Flavor” contained tracks produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest. However, the climate of rap music was decidedly turning more gangsta, and Young MC’s fun, positive rhymes fell out of favor with the major labels.
“Return Of The One Hit Wonder” was released in 1997 and featured the dance party track “On And Poppin’”. Despite strong reviews and video rotation on BET, sales of the CD were disappointing at the time. However, the re-recorded version of “On And Poppin’” was prominently featured in an episode of the NBC Comedy “Scrubs” in 2006.
Also in 1997, Young MC took on a music production project which was larger than anything he had ever done by himself to date. He was hired to compose and perform all of the original music for “The Sports Illustrated For Kids Show.” Young MC created the television show’s theme song, as well as creating individual themes for each episode’s featured athlete. Young MC composed and performed the original music for 2 full seasons of “The Sports Illustrated For Kids Show” before production ended in 1998. Even today, many episodes are re-broadcast for kids worldwide.
In 2000, Young MC released the album “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” Both the album and the title track entered the Billboard hip-hop chart, and Young MC began to tour extensively throughout the country. He was able to expose the fans of “Bust A Move” to songs from “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”, and the positive crowd response influenced his later material. Also, in 2007, the song “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” was featured in an episode of the ABC Comedy “Ugly Betty.”
At the same time in 2000 that Young MC the artist released his album, Marvin Young the songwriter struck platinum again. Along with writing partner Will Wheaton, Marvin Young wrote Anastacia‘s “Not That Kind” which was a smash hit on several continents, and the title track to her debut album which has sold nearly 10 million copies to date. The worldwide success of “Not That Kind” established Marvin Young as a songwriter who had written 4 multi-platinum hit records in 3 different decades and 2 different genres.
In 2002, Young MC appeared as a contestant on “Weakest Link—Rap Stars Edition.” He was joined by Run of RUN-DMC, DJ Quik, Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Xzibit, and Nate Dogg. Young MC went on to win the celebrity contest, outlasting Xzibit in the finals. All of the proceeds from his winning performance were donated to the Humane Society.
Also in 2002 Young MC released “Engage The Enzyme”, an album that many felt was his best to date. The performance of multiple tracks from the album seems to back up that claim. In October 2002, the single “Heatseeker” reached #3 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles Sales Chart. A few weeks after that, “Heatseeker” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales Chart, only being outsold by Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.” The success of “Heatseeker” was the best chart performance for Young MC as an artist in well over a decade.
“Stress Test” was another hit track from “Engage The Enzyme.” A video was shot in Vancouver by up and coming Canadian Director Shawn Angelski. The single and video were enough to secure a single deal for “Stress Test” with Orbit/Virgin Records in Germany. Remixes were made, and “Stress Test” performed well on the charts in Germany and other foreign territories. Also, the original version of “Stress Test” has been featured recently in two major motion picture trailers. It was featured in the film “Four Brothers” in 2005 and the film “Crossover” in 2006.
“Feel The Love” was a third track from “Engage The Enzyme” which performed well¼literally. Young MC took six tracks from “Engage The Enzyme” to the stage, and “Feel The Love” always received the strongest crowd response. Today, nearly 8 years after its release, “Feel The Love” is very often still part of a Young MC live performance, outlasting all other tracks from the album. “Feel The Love” was also licensed to two network television series. It was featured in the WB series “Wonderfalls” in 2004, and it was also featured in the hit HBO series “Entourage” in 2006.
“Crucial” describes Young MC’s personal reaction to 9/11. He describes his unique feelings as a naturalized American citizen. Reviews of “Engage The Enzyme” often mentioned of “Crucial” specifically. A review by Dan LeRoy of All Music Guide praised: “The album’s finest moment, however, is “Crucial”—which not only became hip-hop’s best 9/11 song on its release, but easily bettered most of the attempts in any musical genre to capture that fateful day.” Young MC has never performed “Crucial” on stage in the years since “Engage The Enzyme” was released.
After 20 years of living in Los Angeles, Young MC relocated to Scottsdale, AZ in 2006. He spent 2007 creating the album “Adrenaline Flow” which was released in 2008. At this point, Young MC made the conscious decision to focus on the licensing opportunities which had been so successful for his lesser known material up to that point. There were multiple uses, particularly in the video game area. The most prominent licenses were for the tracks “Don’t Get It Twisted” and “Hit ‘Em Hard”, both of which were featured in the EA Sports Tiger Woods ’09 Video Game.
Immediately following “Adrenaline Flow”, Young MC released an online-only album “B-Sides, Demos and Remixes.” Young MC compiled a diverse set of his unreleased tracks, remixed tracks, and re-recorded tracks to create this unique album. Many of the songs had already been licensed in various media, but there was no way for fans to purchase the songs if they liked them. Two of the re-recorded songs, “Rollin’” and “Get Your Boogie On”, had received regional airplay in the mid-90’s, and were released as singles but were never previously released on any album.
The new version of “Rollin’” was used in the Burger King national advertising campaign “Open ‘Til Late” in 2004-2005. “Rollin’” was also featured in the NBC television series “Knight Rider” in October 2008. “Get Your Boogie On” was featured in the trailer for the animated feature film “Barnyard” in 2006, as well as multiple video game uses. The re-recorded version of “On And Poppin’” was featured prominently in an episode of the NBC Comedy Series “Scrubs” in 2006.
In 2009 Young MC released his 8th album “Relentless”, focusing primarily on the same licensing opportunities that had been successful for him in the past. Later that year Young MC also landed a cameo role in the breakout Jason Reitman film “Up In The Air” starring George Clooney.
The end of 2009 proved to be an active time for Young MC in terms of licenses in film and television. On top of the performance of “Bust A Move” in “Up In The Air”, “Bust A Move” was also prominently featured in the film “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock.
“Bust A Move” was also featured in the wildly popular Fox television show “Glee” in October 2009. The cover performance of the song was a testament to the wide generational appeal of “Bust A Move” as a teacher performed the song for his students as an example of a mash-up for an assignment in class. “Know How”, another track from Young MC’s debut album “Stone Cold Rhymin’”, was featured in the film “Whip It” which was Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, as well as a starring vehicle for “Juno” star Ellen Page.
2009 completed two full decades of Young MC’s music appearing in film and television.
It is a widely held opinion that this relationship between music and film is becoming the backbone of the ever-changing recording industry, and Young MC has been at the forefront of it for well over 30 years. Ever since the 1989 John Candy film “Uncle Buck” featured “Bust A Move” and “Got More Rhymes”, fans of film and television have enjoyed Young MC’s music as part of their visual experience… Whether they actually knew it at the time or not.
These days Young MC has stayed quite busy. He has performed nearly 300 shows on the “I Love The 90s” tour. Since 2016, Young MC has hit stages across the continental U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean as part of this highly successful lineup.
Recently Young MC also made his directorial debut with the film “Justice Served” which he also wrote and co-starred in. The thriller has an amazing cast including Lance Henriksen, Gail O’Grady, Denise Lawton and Lochlyn Munro.
Young MC has also been active with sports halftime performances He has performed for the NFL’s Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. In January 2020, Young MC opened the halftime show for the San Francisco 49ers in their big playoff win over the Vikings.
In 2021, Young MC performed halftime for the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Living in Scottsdale for 15 years, that was a special homecoming performance. For well over a decade, Young MC has performed NBA halftime shows all over the league, from the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Most recently, Young MC has released an original single recording for the first time in over 12 years. “Worry Bout That” has received praise from DJs a d fans alike. Young MC plans to follow up with more new music for today’s listeners.
For well over 30 years, Young MC has brought music and entertainment to the masses. He has always been mindful of his audience, and respectful of its diversity. From the studio to the stage to to the listener, Young MC has provided a sound for people to move to. And that’s not going to stop anytime soon…