Young Lito is a rising artist on the New York City hip hop scene. As he continues to solidify himself in the game, his name has been associated with some controversy. Due to the unfortunate events that took place in Irving Plaza almost two years ago, breaking ties with his former label, and making his own way in the game many people don’t know much about who Young Lito the artist is. So The Source sat down with Lito to give the public a better understanding of who he is, some of the controversy that surrounds him, and what his plans are in the music game.
The Source: Where are you from?
Young Lito: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I’m from Marcus Garvey Projects in Brownsville. We call the whole projects 10Hunnit.
When did you start rapping?
To be honest, I started taking rapping seriously after I met Hovain. The easy route to get out the hood and get rich seems to be being an athlete, but I always played with rapping doing it with my friends, joke freestyling and battling. I used to win poetry contests in school. So I always knew I could rap.
How has it been being a professional artist?
I am two feet in rap now. It’s dope kind of like being an athlete. Getting paid to do what you love. I get paid to host clubs that I used to stand online to get into. I used to play basketball when I was younger in school, but the streets took me in. My grades slipped and I ended up getting kicked out of the school. Then I ended up moving to Virginia because my mother sent me down there to live. I hated her for about two years. I played basketball down there and it’s where I recorded my first song.
Since you lived down in Virginia for a time what are your thoughts on what happened in Charlottesville a few years ago?
I was in Central Virginia when I lived there. It was a small town and not far from Charlottesville. I did see some of that tension while I was there. I remember I had an altercation with someone while I was out there and a white friend of mine pulled me to the side and put me on to how the culture is really down there. The KKK newspaper gets delivered to these people’s houses that’s how racist the town was.
Who did you look up to in the rap game?
I looked up to Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Fabolous, Shyne, Drake, and DMX. I looked up to Shyne for his style and his rap skill. People don’t give Shyne a lot of credit. The grey bottom fitteds, the thermals, the Pelle leathers, the gold fronts, Shyne kind of brought all that back. I also admired DMX music because he showed even street niggas got a soft side. His song “How It’s Going Down” if you pay attention to the lyrics he’s upset about his girl going back to her baby father. I also admired Drake and Ma$e music. I initially wanted to be a rapper with their kind of style because I got a lot of bitches. But after I did Wolves and Snakes and it blew up, it kind of put me in the street lane.
What is your current situation?
I’m an independent artist. 10Hunnit is my label. It’s just me for now, but I’m building it up stone by stone. I manage myself. I basically handle everything, I’m a one man machine.
As an independent artist talk about how important streaming is for you?
California is where I got the most streams. New York is a big market for me as well. As far as countries go, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and some countries in Africa. I would love to go out these places and do a show maybe even to visit. Shit still bugs me out that people listen to me in countries I never been to.
What is your day like being an independent artist?
I usually record in the morning time, check my sales and streaming numbers, eat breakfast, look at CNN to get some inspiration, write raps, handle the artwork for my projects, blast out emails, edit my press kit. It’s a headache, but it’s all worth it. Can’t nobody help you like you help yourself. I have no patience and can’t stand waiting on people. Even on the topic of features, when an artist sends a feature right back, I respect that because a lot of artists are divas or they disappear. A lot of artists have home studios so they can knock out a feature much faster. When I don’t turn around a feature fast, I at least let them know when it’s coming. I would make my own beats if I had the machine. I’m very hands on.
Where do you see yourself a year from now?
I need to be on a Billboard, but this game is about co-signs. Some people get to the major level from work. I know the music is there. The rap game is like hustling. Let me break it down: I spend $500 on studio time to finish an EP, flip that project on sales and streaming platforms and make between $1,200 and $1,500, then add in what I would make hosting and release parties. It’s just basic hustling. I’ve made more money in the street than in music, but music is about investing in yourself in a positive way. If you are thinking for the future, you would pick music over the streets because you know where that path leads you.
What was your mindset for In Due Time project?
I was in a darker space then and I wanted to set myself apart in the rap game and do everything myself. It was right after all the controversy from Irving Plaza. My song “Go Time” sums up In Due Time for me.
What was your mindset for In Due Time 2?
That was also done to set myself apart but from the BSB brand and establish my own thing. I was in a different space then as well. I think it made the impact I was looking for. I did everything myself except making beats. From the artwork, to getting features, setting up the track listing, etc. For this project, I was intentionally trying out different sounds to test the reception and people liked it. I did features with different artists people wouldn’t expect like Uno The Activist and Maxo Kream on Checc It Out. UNO was in the studio one night with my producer I came through and we just vibed. Every feature I got for the project was organic. I didn’t have to chase nobody.
What are your favorite tracks off In Due Time 2?
“Changes” is one of them. Chase N Cashe produced the beat. The sample just touched me. On that song, I talked about things in my life, my dad not being around, my relationship with my moms, etc. I just went in and recorded the track. “Angels” is another one. The recording process happened the same way. Half produced the beat for that song and shot the video for it. I also like “Rambo” as well which was the first single. That was produced by Rubirosa.
Are there any collaborations you hope to get done in the future?
My new joint in Atlanta, she be listening to Afrobeats. I would love to do some music with artists in that genre. That would just make the impact of my music bigger for my fans in Africa.
What’s the next step for Young Lito?
I plan to shoot more videos from In Due Time 2. The video for “Trilla” and we are finishing up the video to changes. I want to do more vlogs showing different sides of my personality and more freestyles. Two Asian kids ran up on me at the Barclays and told me how much they like my freestyles. I might drop a EP in the next month of two. I think the people are due for a Future is Here 2. I’m also working on putting together a tour to do in Canada. I’ve been talking to promoters trying to get the numbers right. The eventual goal is to touch all topics and touch the people more. I want to increase my awareness and perfect my craft.
What is the relationship like with your fellow artists? Are there any current artists you like?
My fellow artists fuck with me and they show me love. I spoke to Neef Bucks the other day. I like Tekashi 69. Rap is like wrestling anyway and controversy sells. I also like Kooda B, Don Q, A Boogie and of course Cardi B.
As a person born and raised in Brooklyn, how do you feel about the gentrification that’s taking place in borough?
In Brownsville, things look the same to me, but I see it getting closer. Maybe by next year things will change. 3 Black Cats Café is the most gentrified thing we have in the neighborhood, but its black owned. For me personally, I got a love-hate relationship to it. I like when I got to the bars in Bed Stuy where it could be a gangbanger and a lawyer in the same spot and everyone is having fun. But people losing their homes, rents being raised, it’s kind of fucked up.
What is your current relationship with Troy Ave?
We don’t have one. I only knew Troy for about three or four years. I met him through Hovain. We weren’t really close. From the outside looking in it may seem like we were. It was more of a business relationship. I was his artist. Besides things like radio interviews, videos, and shows, we went our own way. We didn’t really hang out like that.
How do people get in touch with you?
Photo Credit: Panoramic Films