Yung Tarzan, “What U Need”

Yung Tarzan knows what we need. A little takeout, some weed, a chill ride through the neighborhood: it’s pretty much anyone’s ideal night. For the rising Florida rapper, though, it’s just your “typical Wednesday,” charted from start to finish in the video for his bouncing new track “What U Need".

Hailing from West Palm Beach, Yung Tarzan crafted the breezy summer jam using a “day in the life” approach. Like Ice Cube before him, he’s detailed the sort of good day—or in this case, good night—that everyone would envy. In honor of the video’s premiere, Yung Tarzan answered a few questions on his deliberately positive vision, his new EP Kush Paradise, and “Grandpa rap” in West Palm Beach.

“What U Need” offers a pretty sunny outlook. Do you believe in a positive approach to hip hop?

Yeah, I definitely believe in a positive approach to hip hop but I think it’s because I believe in a positive approach to everything. I don’t see the point in pretending to be hard. Everyone’s so focused on trying to be the hardest that it almost makes them seem soft that they care so much. It forces them to just write songs about nothing. In the end, I just want to be a person that people like and can relate to, and no one really likes negative people.

Sushi, condoms, weed… does the video represent a typical night for Yung Tarzan?

That’s a pretty typical Wednesday night for me. The only thing that I’d say is atypical is the giant bag of condoms; I don’t really like using condoms, so I don’t normally carry them. But you know, I gotta keep em on hand.

Can you describe the hip hop scene in West Palm Beach?

It’s very, very small. It’s so small that I could venture to say that I know everyone, or at least know somebody that knows somebody that has a friend that makes hip hop music in my city. There are a couple venues that regularly host hip hop shows but the problem with these shows is that the people who book these venues are pretty much from two cliques. These cliques are made up of people who are older, and they basically only book their friends. All of these people are caught up trying to make “real hip hop” (Grandpa rap) and it makes the shows pretty boring because you have to listen to 30 minutes of spoken word between sets. Also the drinks are too expensive at every venue in West Palm and the rap shows are never on a popular night. All of the best shows are at warehouses because they’re free and there’s no hierarchy to climb. Warehouse shows are just a lot more intimate.

Who are some of the other artists you're currently working with/inspired by?

I’m always working and constantly being inspired by Dimitri Dutch. He’s my best friend and little brother. I started out just making beats for him and he essentially taught me how to rap and we helped each other find our style. My boy CLVB_DRVGS helped me put out my last tape on cassette and he’s always offering me advice and willing to help me with whatever I need. He knows a lot about production and it’s really nice to have someone so knowledgeable on my side. I’m really inspired by a lot of my friends in New York that are making waves in different genres as well: my friends in the band Worthless are doing a lot of cool stuff in the psychedelic scene and my really inspired by their self motivation and success; my friend Max Turner is a fashion photographer and every time I see him post something on Instagram or Facebook, I immediately feel the need to work harder. Chuka and everyone in Ounce have really inspired me to take my music to the next level. I’m inspired by their their willingness to work with and understand every crowd, so I’m excited to be putting out Kush Paradise through them. I’m realizing that really no one puts himself or herself on and that it has to be a combined effort shared by friends.

What will the vibe be like on the new EP, Kush Paradise?

It’s gonna be very nonchalant and refreshing. All the songs that I have been making for it so far are very calm and relaxed but still emotionally intense. There’s nothing on there that’s too cerebral. All the songs are about feeling good and feeling like you’re on top of the world all while knowing that you really have no reason to feel good. It’s like going out to dinner and ordering steak and only tipping a dollar.

– post & interview conducted by Loren DiBlasi