ABOVE PHOTO: J Young MDK (Photo: Jaylon Smith)
By Kharisma McIlwaine
Music is one of the universal languages. In an industry where new artists are surfacing almost daily, it can be difficult to stand out while carving out a niche.
Jermaine Carter, known to his fans as J Young MDK, is doing just that. His album “Now or Never,” released in 2019, was executive produced by his mentor Jamie Foxx to an incredible reception and over 100,000 streams during its first week. J Young MDK continues to find more ways to be creative and offer his fans a constant stream of new music. He spoke to The SUN about his approach to creating, upcoming projects and using his platform to uplift.
J Young MDK’s love for music began at the early age of 5. Music surrounded him and his family and eventually blossomed into him pursuing music as a career path.
“In high school around 11th grade, I started getting serious about music,” he said. “That’s when I started recording, releasing music and dropping mixtapes.”
Influenced by Tupac, Jay Z, André 3000, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Fabolous, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Usher, Drake and Chris Brown, J Young MDK describes his sound as diverse.
“I can do almost anything musically,” he said. “I can go in any direction because I grew up listening to so many different genres of music…. that’s in my style.”
J Young MDK’s big break happened with the help of Jamie Foxx, who later became his mentor.
“I originally met Jamie Foxx six years ago doing a movie called “Sleepless” where I was an extra,” he said. “He was on set and he was making jokes calling me Tupac Bryant, saying I looked like Tupac and Kobe Bryant. I told him I do music and I let him hear it. He said, ‘Wait a minute, you’re dope!’, and that’s how the relationship started.Eventually down the line, we met back up. I had an album that I just started working on called “Now or Never” and I asked him would he executive produce it. He started listening to it, agreed to do it and started helping out from there. The rest is history.”
Since joining forces with Foxx, one of the most well-rounded talents in the business, J Young MDK has made it a point to remain authentic to himself and his art.
“The market is very oversaturated because anyone can create an album whether it’s good or not,” he said. “They can create it, put it out through one of these distribution platforms and it’s available. It’s become a world where there’s more artists than fans sometimes but besides that… may the best people make it to the top. It evens the playing field for artists, so it’s a gift and a curse.” He added, “it’s an independent game now. You can pretty much put out what you feel like putting out and if it catches, it catches and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I would rather live and die by that, than to do what other people want me to do and people think my stuff is whack.”
J Young MDK continues to embrace his love for multiple genres and creativity in several ways. He has received a lot of notoriety about his “50 Songs 50 Weeks” campaign, where he releases a new song every week for 50 weeks. Additionally, in a separate campaign, he released three albums in three months in three genres — “Black,” “Aqua” and “White.”
““Black” is like the rap J Young –it’s smashy, it’s conscious, it’s all the rap stuff,”he said . ““Aqua” is more R&B and extremely female friendly. It would be like the Drake, Torey Lanez meets Fabolous R&B lane. Then you have “White,” where you don’t know what you’re going to get. You’ve got alternative on there, you have a little bit of rock influence, rap, R&B… all infused within each other. You get a lot of different elements that you wouldn’t get on a tradition record on that.”
When he’s not busy creating and performing, J Young MDK also works as an ambassador for The American Diabetes Association. He shared why it was important for him to use his platform to support this organization.
“I have diabetes,” he said. “I was recently diagnosed 8 or 9 months ago. So that’s obviously something I’m going through as well. I wanted the person that’s out there going through it to know that it’s not a death sentence. They can still work and be successful — look at me and what I’m doing. I just wanted everyone to have hope. Whether you have diabetes, cancer, or anything that’s supposed to hold you back … that’s also a superpower and you can use that to fuel you and motivate you to go harder.”
J Young MDK has several upcoming music projects including an album as a member of Jamie Foxx’s new group The BSB Boyz. He also has several upcoming film projects, including a sequel of sorts to the holiday movie “The App That Stole Christmas” and a boxing film. To see and hear more, follow J Young MDK on social media and YouTube at: @JYoungMDK or visit his website at: www.jyoungmdk.com.
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