One decade removed from his time playing folk songs at Christmas concerts as a drummer for the Kennelworth Middle School in South Baton Rouge, La., rapper Young Bleed has traded in his drumsticks for a microphone and a place atop the R&B charts.
"South Baton Rouge is all one-room shacks and train tracks. There's no opportunity. Very seldom does a black kid make it to college, very seldom does
a black kid get out. It's a do-or-die situation. I got friends in the pen for life that
are 16 years old," said Young Bleed, the latest rapper out of Master P's No Limit stable.
The 23-year-old drummer-turned-rapper first got hip to the joys of rhyming by listening to the lyrical and highly imaginative stylings of famed children's author Dr. Seuss, as read by his mother. "The ones I loved to listen to when I was a little kid were 'Cat in the Hat,' 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas,' 'Green Eggs and Ham.' I liked the rhythm and the rhyme," said Young Bleed, who still lives in his native South Baton Rouge.
With his sense of rhythm and rhyme, Young Bleed has gone from reciting Seuss' "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" to putting together the tracks that make up his chart-jumping debut album, 'All I Have In This World, are...' My Balls and My Word, which features pals Master P, Mystikal and Fiend. The CD is currently #16 on the Billboard albums chart.
Young Bleed draws from a wide variety of musical interests, which include folk, funk, rhythm, blues, soul, gospel and heavy metal. This diversity is best displayed by the haunting banjo sound generated on synthesizer by producer Nathan "Happy" Perez that runs the length of "Keep It Real" (RealAudio excerpt) and the sample of an upright bass that tiptoes throughout "The Day They Make Me Boss" (RealAudio excerpt).
On "The Day They Make Me Boss," Young Bleed shifts gears, discarding his laid-back approach for a smooth, double-time delivery, as he addresses the new order as it would take shape if he were in charge: "Ain't no love for the other side/ Ain't no way I'm going to let it ride."
"My favorite was 'Da Last Outlaw,' " said Perez, the 19-year-old producer of 11 of the album's 14 tracks. "It fit together perfect. We did it with no flaws, and by the time it was finished, it was like a masterpiece to us. Bleed got into some new shit and the beat tells a story by itself." Plans for the next album include branching out of Louisiana's badlands and bayous to get West Coast rappers in the mix, Perez said.
Lyrically, Young Bleed blazes no new trails, dealing almost exclusively with memories of his old neighborhood such as drinking, having money and cruising in a cool car -- or, as he respectively calls them, "sippin' Hennessy's," "bank roll is swoll" and "rolling in the four-door." [Thurs., Feb. 5, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]