Being the son and legacy of one of the most legendary hip hop producers in history may have its perks but it also has some INCREDIBLE pressures that go along with it. Chicago Music Magazine founder, Shawn Kellner, recently traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles to sit down with Curtis Young in Culver City, CA, for an exclusive interview as well as signing of a partnership deal with one of YouTube's partners Fullscreen Inc. Curtis explains who he is as a person, as an artist, the reality behind finding out that he is Dr Dre’s son, what the story has been up to this point and what projects he has coming out in the near future.
CMM: Shawn Kellner, Chicago Music Magazine, I’m here in Los Angeles, California with Curtis Young. What’s going on Curtis? How are you?
Curtis Young: I’m good man. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for interviewing me. I appreciate it.
CMM: It’s my pleasure as well, man. I’m excited to be here and to be able to help the world find out who Curtis Young is. There are a lot of people who want to find out right now.
Curtis Young: Absolutely, I know there are a lot of people who want to find out who I am, and to understand who my father is. It’s a question that I get asked all the time.
CMM: Well, being from the West Coast and specifically, growing up in Compton, you come from a rich legacy of artists that have grown and created careers from where you come from before you even knew you were the son of Dr. Dre. I would like to know about that. I’d like to know what made you - you growing up.
Curtis Young: I think what made me who I am as a kid is that I’ve always just been me, Curtis. I think me finding out at the age of 12. It was a life changing moment for me. I was 12 years old. I was a kid looking up to Dr. Dre. It was a lot to take in. I don’t know any 12 yr old that could grasp knowing that they are a son of a legend. It was a lot to take on. People know me just as Curtis. My last name was not even Young at that time. I just recently changed my last name. I was into music, but I wasn’t dedicated to music. I didn’t feel like music was my purpose at that point. It was just a hobby for me back then. Music found its place in my heart and I want to continue what my father's legacy but it's not the only reason I’m doing this. First and foremost music is something I took a liking too in order to give back to the people. I want people to understand that Curtis Young has a story. My passion and my heart want people to enjoy my grown and sexy music. That’s what I call it now. I’ve gone through channels and changes throughout my life. From the Hood Surgeon to Curtis Young and me wanting to follow my father’s footsteps and wanting to be just like him. Actually even just finding out as a kid, trying hard to understand it all. It’s about the Young brand. The hardest thing about it is getting out from his shadow. I want to show people that I can do it on my own. I want to show people that I am my own person and that I have my own lane besides Andre Young.
CMM: Growing up, there were a lot of artists that came from Compton. Did any of them influence you early on? Like “Eazy-E” or “The Game”?
Curtis Young: Yeah, Eazy-E, of course. He was with my father with NWA. That was my era anyway just growing up watching them on the screen. I didn’t necessarily want to be like that because I was not into the violence and all that stuff but I lived through it. I grew up around it. I seen it around me. I was just lucky to have friends that I grew up with that were not into the gangs and the violence. We just didn’t get involved with none of that, but we seen it and it was cool watching the videos and listening to the music.
CMM: I noticed when I listened to some of the new music you have put out, specifically the track “Muzik.” Your message is not the traditional “West Coast” message. You are basically reinventing west coast hip hop?
Curtis Young: I look at it like…My father, he is a trend-setter. If I’m following in his footsteps it wouldn’t make sense for me to just do a bunch of west coast-style stuff. I want to make music for the world to hear. Like I said, the hardest thing for me is coming out from under his shadow. If I do it in the music by talking about the story and letting people know who Curtis Young is as a person then people will cling on to it.
CMM: How did finding out that Dr. Dre is your real father change your life?
Curtis Young: I found out at the age of 12 so it didn’t change my life at all at that age. To be honest it was an emotional roller coaster for me. At that time, my father who raised me his name is Andre Weeks. That is who I viewed to be my dad. He actually told me about Dre being my dad over an argument. It was really emotional as a kid to understand and process what was going on. At the age of 12 having the person I knew growing up to be my father all of a sudden tell me “I’m not your dad” and “you're not my son." I wrote a song about it and finally he said, “You want to know who your real daddy is? Your real daddy is Dre.” I just walked off dumbfounded. It's deep. My story is really deep. Honestly, daily I look in the mirror and realize wow that is really something that happened. Finding out Dre is my father was a life changing thing for me that I won't ever forget. I’m thankful every day that I wake up.
CMM: From finding out at the age of 12 and going through to the age of 21, what made you decide to want to meet Dr. Dre?
Curtis Young: That is a really good question. At the age of 15 it started taking a toll on me. I just felt like there was something that was missing. My step dad at the time wouldn’t let my mother go about a DNA test with Dre. I was stuck in limbo as far as meeting him was concerned. Then my step mom and him split up and that’s when I wanted to force that relationship. I wanted to meet him. I wanted to figure out what it was and how I felt about it. A lot of it will be in my book in detail and the feature film I have coming out about as far as how I met him and what I went through to meet him. There is a full story that’s so involved. I want people to understand where I came from and what I’ve been through to get here.
CMM: That will help them understand who you are which will also help them to connect even more to the music you are making. Wow. You have a lot going on right now my friend. You have a feature film in the works that tells your story, you have a reality TV show coming out. Can you tell us about the reality TV show?
Curtis Young: Sure, It’s called “Seeds of Hip Hop” and it has the sons of the legends of hip hop that put out good west coast music and music on the east coast too. It's me, Little Eazy, Jam Master Jay’s son Jason, E-40’s son Droop E, and MC Ren’s son who goes by Waxy.
CMM: Interacting with those guys, they are the only other people that can truly understand what your going through as a "Seed of Hip Hop," as a legacy, and as someone who is working to live up to not just the legacy but the pressure. Not just the legacy (that’s inferred) but dealing with the pressure that goes along with having the legacy?
Curtis Young: I think that each of us involved has our own story and knows how they want to tell their story. I was talking to someone the other day about how we never hear the kids perspective, the son or the daughters perspective, the story is usually told only from the artist's perspective. They don’t know what’s going on in the house. How did the child feel when their mother or father was not there and what happened when they found out like myself. I’m not the only one. I’m sure there are a lot of kids out there who find out. It’s not even just hip hop. You can find out on TV or whatever. You’re not really my daughter or you’re not really my son… This is your real dad. Stories like that happen every day. It’s life changing for a lot of people. It’s not just going through the motions of being the son or daughter of a celebrity.
CMM: I think that’s the story that is going into your music. There are several stories within your music that people can connect to one way or another from their own experiences because they are in a similar situation.
Curtis Young: Right, that’s definitely what I want to bring and show to people - the fact that I am a real person. It definitely is life changing but we are still people. Some people are humble some people aren’t. I make a point in my life to be a very humble person. I went through a lot to build this character in me. That’s the qualities I what I want people to know me for.
CMM: So tell me what people can expect from your upcoming record “Product of My DNA.”
Curtis Young: You can expect a story. A lot of music nowadays there is no story or substance behind the music they are making. They either talk about how much money they got or they are just stuntin. With me it's about telling true stories about what I’ve been through. Growing up in Compton, and it will explain why I’m a product of my DNA.
CMM: Have you gotten to travel outside of Los Angeles a lot?
Curtis Young: Yes, absolutely. I had the chance to go to Japan before the tsunami hit and I was in New York before Sandy hit too. I made it back one day before. On an international level over the last 5 years I’ve gotten to perform in France, Africa, Germany, and several other places outside the US.
CMM: What is the difference between Hood Surgeon and Curtis Young?
Curtis Young: Hood Surgeon was a built image. Curtis Young is the real person. Hood Surgeon was kind of like the incredible hulk. You had a nice guy on the inside and Hood Surgeon was like my incredible Hulk.
CMM: So this is like a breath of fresh air now. You're just doing you. No gimmick this time around, just the true stories behind what has made you and what makes up Curtis Young as a person and an artist.
Curtis Young: It feels good to be able to just be me, man. Who is not good at just being themselves?
CMM: Well Curtis, We are going to get to find out exactly who you are very quickly. We're excited for your reality TV show “Seeds of Hip Hop," Your book and movie that will tell the full story behind finding out Dr. Dre is your real dad, and of course your album “Product of My DNA” all coming out very soon. You have more going on than most artists out there right now. You may be Dr. Dre’s son and I think a lot of people will gravitate to that, but after talking to you today and getting to know who you really are, I think that Curtis Young is pretty cool too on your own.
CMM: Thank you very much for joining me today, Curtis and helping Chicago Music Magazine to put a spotlight on who you are and what you have going on.
Curtis Young: Thanks for having me.
Chicago Music Magazine would like to send a special thank you to Full Screen Inc Los Angeles, and especially to Tiffany Gaines (Young's Manager) of SSMG/Blasia's Entertainment for setting up this exclusive interview with Curtis Young.
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