June 22, 2022

ICYMI: YoungShirtMayne’s “Luke EP”

“The city is white as hell, the music is white as hell, the culture here is fucking bacon donuts, curly mustaches, froyo and fucking racism.”—YoungShirtMayne

For those in the know, YoungShirtMayne has been making waves on the Portland scene for a while. In fact, his Naturally Grown Misfits clique performed on the very first edition of The Thesis before he was even old enough to drink. His Luke EP was released in January and remains Portland’s best hip-hop release of the year. We recently had the opportunity to chat with YoungShirtMayne about the new release and various other topics. (Editor’s note: Since then, Shirty has appeared on the latest single from the highly anticipated Milc & Calvin Valentine release, which you should take the time to listen to this very moment if you haven’t already.)

“Bounce” was one of the best tracks to come out of the Portland scene in a long time. What was the answer for you? What was it like working with KayelaJ?

I’m glad you’re fucking with this one. It’s one of my favorites for sure. This is my favorite verse from KayelaJ and it’s on an instrument from my favorite producers (J. Hixson)…the response was a little different than what I’m used to because I don’t rap on every track anymore . It’s a creative song directed towards the strip club and this scene. I wanted to shake the cellulite booty at that one. I thought it would be fun to show a woman’s opinion there too. These strip club niggas getting old. Regarding KayelaJ, when she appeared on the scene, she was part of my team. She grew up in the same neighborhood as me. We built a personal relationship even earlier than a musical relationship. It’s my sister.

While we’re on this topic… all of the collaborations and features on this EP are top notch. What does your thought process look like when it comes to choosing who to collaborate with on a particular track? Who are the people with whom you would like to collaborate in the future and with whom you have not yet had the opportunity to work?

Honestly, I just work with my friends. If I can’t hang out with you and have a drink or just sit and laugh, our music together would probably suck. When I want a feature it’s usually because I can hear a friend of mine on the song, not because the song needs it, you know. As far as my friends I haven’t worked with yet, it would probably be like Dodgr and Epp off the top of my head. Also, if I ever had to collaborate with Tobi Lou or Pink Sweat$, it would be crazy. These are my biggest exceptions.

How has it been for you making music considering everything that’s going on, both in our city and around the world? Do you miss live?

Honestly, it’s been easier than ever. Stress creates diamonds and I slept on a sofa for about five months because of the pandemic, sooooo… Fortunately, however, it was the sofa of Mat Randol, who is an engineer and a friend of mine the closest. I am more motivated than ever. I literally couldn’t describe to you how much I miss the performance. It’s crazy that the moment we are has stopped all the funniest things I used to do. Gambling, being grossly intoxicated and kicked out of strip clubs, even just eating inside at a restaurant instead of being cold as hell next to a small fireplace or bullshit heater. It’s a trash can.

What are some of your goals as an artist for the coming year?

Mat Randol and I have a project called WAYLT around April 5th. I have the feeling that my life is going to be changed. Just really excited for it to come out at this point. I couldn’t tell what exactly my goals are until I see the reception. I could just stop.

In your opinion, what differentiates the practice of music in Portland from any other city? Feel free to talk about the pros and cons.

The city is white as hell, the music is white as hell, the culture here is fucking bacon donuts, curly mustaches, froyo and fucking racism. Hip-hop is black culture and we are misunderstood here. I’m not [an] activist or whatever, but I’m black. I have seen myself and the talents of my peers constantly overlooked due to the fact that most people cannot relate to the ideology we are trying to launch in this predominantly white city. We are constantly watched and have to work five times harder to get a fifth of the recognition than groups and so on. The police infiltrate our broadcasts to monitor us with the intention of silencing us. Guess that’s not surprising considering they gassed us for 100 days either. The difference here is that we’re the minority and we’re JUST starting to see some light thanks to people like Amine, Damian Lillard, Dodgr. Shit becomes tedious and tiring for us. We’re going anyway. I think the hip-hop scene here is small but it has one of the biggest and most talented hearts of any city in America. I could bet on it.