“The city is white as hell, the music is white as hell, the culture here is fucking bacon doughnuts, curly mustaches, froyo and fucking racism.”—YoungShirtMayne
For those in the know, YoungShirtMayne has been making waves in the Portland scene for a while. In fact, his Naturally Grown Misfits clique performed at the very first edition of The Thesis before he was even old enough to drink. His Luke EP was released back in January and remains the best Portland hip-hop release of the year. We recently had a chance to catch up YoungShirtMayne about the new release and various other topic. (Editor's note: since then Shirty 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" has been one of the best tracks to come out of the Portland scene in a long time. How has the response been for you? What was it like to work with KayelaJ?
I’m glad you fuckin wit that one. It’s one of my favorites for sure. It’s my favorite verse from KayelaJ and it’s on an instrumental from my favorite producers (J. Hixson)... the response has been a little different than I’m used to because I’m not rappity rappin’ on every track anymore. It’s a creative song directed towards the strip club and that scene. I wanted to make cellulite booty jiggle to that one. Thought it would be fun to show the opinion of a woman on there also. That niggas in the strip club shit getting old. As far as KayelaJ goes when she emerged on the scene she was a part of my team. She grew up in the same neighborhood as me. We built a personal relationship even sooner than a music relationship. That’s my sis.
While we’re on that topic… all of the collaborations and features on this EP are top notch. What is your thought process like when it comes to picking who to collaborate with on a particular track? Who are some folks you’d like to collaborate with in the future that you haven’t had a chance to work with yet?
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 cuz I can hear one of my friends on the song not cuz the song NEEDS it ya 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 got to collab with Tobi Lou or Pink Sweat$ that would be nuts. Those are my biggest exceptions.
How has it been for you to make music given everything that’s going on, both in our city and throughout the world? Do you miss performing live?
Honestly it’s been easier than ever. Stress builds diamonds and I was sleeping on a couch for like five months due to the pandemic, sooooo... Luckily, though, that was Mat Randol’s couch, who’s an engineer and one of my closest friends. I’ve been more motivated than ever. I literally couldn’t describe to you how much I miss performing. It’s crazy the time we’re in has stopped all of the most fun things I used to do. Performing, getting disgustingly intoxicated and kicked out of strip clubs, even just eating indoors at a restaurant instead of cold as hell next to a bullshit little fire pit or heater. It’s trash.
What are some of your goals as an artist in the coming year?
Mat Randol and I have a project coming out called WAYLT around April 5th. I have a feeling that one is gonna change my life. Just really excited for it to come out at this point. I couldn’t say what my goals exactly are till I see the reception. I might just quit.
What do you think makes doing music in Portland different from another city? Feel free to speak to the pros and the cons.
The city is white as hell, the music is white as hell, the culture here is fucking bacon doughnuts, curly mustaches, froyo and fucking racism. Hip-hop is Black culture and we’re misunderstood here. I’m not [an] activist or anything but I am Black. I’ve seen myself and peers’ talents constantly neglected due to the fact that most people can’t relate to the ideology we’re trying to begin in this dominantly white town. We’re constantly scrutinized and have to work five times as hard to get a fifth of the recognition as the bands and whatnot. Police infiltrate our shows to watch us with intention to shut us down. Guess that’s not surprising due to the fact they tear gassed us for 100 days either, though. The difference here is we’re the minority and we’re JUST beginning to see a little bit of the light due to people like Amine, Damian Lillard, Dodgr. Shit becomes tedious and tiring for us. We still go, though. I think the hip-hop scene here is small but it has one of the biggest hearts and most talent out of every city in America. I could bank on that.