Artists to Watch


October 5. 2011. Wolverhampton. Approximately 4.48pm. Look into the skies, grey clouds set the tone and the mood of the day. Everyday citizens and commuters were making their movements. Facial expressions stating that it is just another day on the grind, awaiting the pay check at the end of the week, looking forward to going out and socializing with their fellow friends and peers.

Within the walls of the University Of Wolverhampton, lies a young, aspiring individual looking out the window and sees these people doing the same thing he is, striving for perfection, only difference is this young man sees blue skies instead of grey, while he observes the area, his thoughts are intertwined with his headphones, almost welded round his neck, where faint music can be heard in the distance, this man sees beyond others.

He was born Burale Ali, November 12, 1990, hailing from the Netherlands, but now resides in Birmingham, England. Today he is known as Young B. Throughout his life he is in a dilemma, in the mix he is in love with two ‘women’, and he can’t let any of them go. The two ‘women’ he refers as music and sports.

He has a laid back approach to him. Doesn’t let too many people get into his head, yet I am willing to give it a try.

“Since I was a kid, I have always loved hip hop, it is an art form that allows the most freedom of expression. So I wanted to be heard, I started rhyming as a kid. I had always paid attention with what artists were saying in their songs…” Everyone who loves to rhyme always had some influence or a ‘father to their style’. Young B continues… “In my rhymes I like to tell stories from real life experiences. One of the best artists to ever do that was Biggie (Notorious B.I.G.) When I rhyme, I speak truth. I like to make people think about what I say in my songs and not just enjoy the beat. Everyone can have their opinion, but I don’t really care what people think about the rhymes I spit, end of the day, it’s the truth, Eminem showed me that”. As a fan of hip hop myself, I felt exactly the same way Young B did about how hip hop should be. Young B continues: “I feel as though artists get caught in the manufactured engine in the music business and start rhyming about nonsense and what they don’t represent. They are compromising their real life and wasting time, when they could bring something beneficial to the world especially how hip hop is the most dominant genre in music and has been for the past few decades”.

Case in point: His latest single entitled ‘Real Talk’. His talent for storytelling based on real life draws the listener in over the haunting Fugees ‘Ready Or Not’ instrumental, bringing up examples of growing up in the hood that everyone can relate to: “…and lately I seen a lot of changes/a man swop loyalty for them ladies/we got youts running round looking wavy/this is a hard knock life no Jay-Z….” His delivery comes clear, deliberate, hardly any slang. In another track, ‘Journey of Life’, Young B looks at his life thus far and aims to reach out and teach one while he is still a student himself, making it clear that he has long-term goals and intends to fulfil them all. Then on the triumphant track ‘Champion’, Young B explains how he remains calm throughout chaotic times and shows a ‘never give up’ attitude, maintains a smile because he is still breathing and blessed to be on this earth to make the most of his opportunities.

If there is an artist that is current that Young B can mirror, it would be J.Cole. “J.Cole has in hip hop what is severely lacking as of late, that is a concept. He touches on every subject, I particularly like the track ‘Lost Ones’, where he speaks in first and third person, the song is about a young dude who discovers that his girl is pregnant but he gives it serious thought about the long-term repercussions, hoping that his girl will understand….but his girl doesn’t see it that way and fears that he is just like all the rest of the guys”.

So how did Burale Ali become Young B? “It wasn’t like I woke up one morning and thought ‘right, I want to be known as Young B and disregard my original name’. The name was given to me and then it just stuck”. So here I am with the shovel ready to dig and discover the origins of the name.

“When I was 16 I entered a talent show, I went on to win it. However I only believed I won because of my popularity but people pulled me up and told me how they analysed, dissected and broke down my lyrics and it was the actual content that were the key factors that made me win. They said that I could bring something that hip hop is lacking as of late and that is a ‘concept’ …” Before me I see a confident, positive but a grounded Young B, before he continues in his origins… “Knowing that made me feel good and drove me to keep going in my craft. As I turned 18, I started going to places and all of a sudden I was refused I.D. More and more places had signs saying ‘if you are lucky to look under 21 you have to prove that you are over 18. I used to tell these stories at the youth club I used to go to and not only did people, especially women say I looked young for my age, they used to say it was a compliment but I didn’t necessarily see it that way. It was borderline frustrating that I couldn’t get into places. Also my name (Burale) was unusual and people had trouble pronouncing my name and that could get frustrating having to repeat myself, so one day somebody in the youth club acknowledged me as ‘B’…and because of my appearance the community put it together as ‘Young B’…and so the name was born. I love rhyming, but to me it is just a stepping stone to where I really want to go”.

At this point I realise that this is not just an average guy who just wants to live his life off rhyming, he knows that there is no firm concrete future in that…he knows he needs something stable, something that will bring Burale Ali back to the forefront. Something he can contribute to the world. He knows the world is bigger than Birmingham, England, and so it brought me to his other love in his life, sports.

His love for sports, minus golf and rugby, began with his ears much like hip hop did. “I have always paid a lot of attention to commentary, I was fascinated how the commentators would have so much knowledge about the players about the particular sport, the history behind teams and rivalries, I know that I can’t just depend on my rhymes, I need something stable in my life. I know that if I study hard in this Broadcast Journalism course  remain determined and stay focussed on chasing my dream, I can guarantee myself a career in Sports Journalism. Ideally I would love to join the Sky Sports News team”.

It seems that in my estimation Burale Ali has a master plan…and if his execution is anything like his rhymes, then we well and truly have a ‘Champion’ on our hands.

(Mike Dogg)

All photos and videos used courtesy of Young B.

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