Young Steff: The New Style

  Ten years in the music business is a long time. For Young Steff, it was an education, complete with instruction from family and music heavyweights. As a result, the 18-year-old crooner found himself – attaining his swagger from former Roc-a-Fella Records partners Jay-Z and Damon Dash before residing at music producer Rich Harrison’s new […]

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Ten years in the music business is a long time. For Young Steff, it was an education, complete with instruction from family and music heavyweights. As a result, the 18-year-old crooner found himself – attaining his swagger from former Roc-a-Fella Records partners Jay-Z and Damon Dash before residing at music producer Rich Harrison’s new record label, Richcraft, Inc. With his single “Shorty” featuring T-Pain getting radio and club love, and an album dropping this year, Young Steff is preparing to invade an R&B scene filled with peers who could potentially bring the music back to its soulful self. The Vineland, New Jersey native wouldn’t have it any other way, as he spoke with us about the influence of his father, his time with the Roc and how cool it would be to do a song with some of today’s R&B heartbreakers. Alternatives: You’ve been singing since the age of eight when you were traveling with you dad and his gospel group Spirit… Young Steff: I was a baby actually. I was going to all his shows and things like that. Right off the bat, I was singing at like five or six-years-old. I would go to all the rehearsals and things. He actually traveled with the Winans and Fred Hammond. He traveled with some big dogs, him and his group. Actually, he was one of the lead singers in the group. AHHA: What’s the most important thing you learned from father that has stayed with you to this day? Young Steff: Aww man. I mean from him to me is just to keep God first and stay humble – and know what’s right and what’s wrong. What’s crazy about me and my pop is that when I was a young’un , he was more of a dad than a homie. And now that the older I get, he becomes more of a homie. He’s like a homie right now. We’re like brothers. He’s my right hand man. AHHA: You had roots in the gospel realm. Coming from that, how did your dad react when you decided to pursue R&B? Young Steff: Actually, at the time when I had really took it serious I was like 10, 11-years-old when I was like, “Dad I want to do this.” When I was nine-years-old I remember he left the gospel group, and he started doing his R&B thing. So we both actually transitioned to R&B together. It was really a blessing. I think God puts things in place for a reason. So when I wanted to do R&B he was already in it. He was like “You know what man? Let me try my son. Maybe God put me here to lead you and make sure you’re good.” And that’s what’s been happening. I had wrote a song to this SWV track. Remember [sings] I’m so in to you. Remember that joint? I had actually wrote a song, a commercial track to that and I performed it for my dad. It blew his mind, and from then on he had no doubt in his mind that I’m the one. When you got somebody like that behind you that’s my pop. So to have him behind me, I ain’t worried about nothin’ because he’s going to make sure I’m right. AHHA: You were signed to Roc-A-Fella while it was being controlled by Jay-Z and Damon Dash. What was it like being with the Roc during the height of their popularity? Young Steff: It was a blessing. It was fun because I was 12, 13, 14, 15 – those were the years I was with them. I was growing up during school, and automatically I became the head of the school – I was the leading man of school all of a sudden with a platinum chain. It was a blessing because it put me on a pedestal that I knew I was a somebody. Then coming to New York and being in the studio, chilling with Jay-Z ,watching him play chess and just cool out with my dad was like “Wow!” I’m recording a record in this million dollar studio. This is serious. I’ll never ever look at it another way other than it was a blessing, because it only put me to where I’m at right now. I’m totally focused right now. AHHA: Jay and Dash ultimately split and Jay took the Roc, while Dash decided to create his own label, but you opted to go your own way. Why didn’t you go with Dash? Young Steff: Moreso because I was kind of a little frustrated that they didn’t put me out at the time. Then the last meeting I had with Dame, he was letting us know that we could either go or we could come with him to his record company. Maybe God has another plan for me. Maybe we should go back to the drawing board, get some more joints and do something else. That’s the way my pop did, and now we’re with Richcraft Atlantic. AHHA: Was it sort of an adjustment of sorts being at Richcraft as opposed to being at Roc-a-Fella? Young Steff: No. You know what? Actually, It was kind of crazy… It was hot because Rich understood I came from this gangsta rap label, and I actually got my swag from over there. So it was like I was ready made already. Rich had some bangin’ tracks already. So I was ready made with my swag and with his sound, we put that together and it was magic. ’m cooler than I’ve ever been with the guy. I can call him right now and just say “What’s up.” So the transition was kinda cool. AHHA: You’ve said you really want to connect to your audience through your voice and songwriting. Young Steff: I think it’s very important because of my age to show the fans that, first of all, God is real, and He put me in this position to show them, “Look, even though I do R&B, I just want you guys to know you don’t have to go to the block. You don’t have to do negative to create positive. You can do positive to create positive because that’s what I did. AHHA: While it may easy to connect thought lyrics in a song, how important is that to you that your voice be used in that light ? Young Steff: Just singing from my heart and my soul, no matter what I’m singing. If I’m singing a song about the ladies, just make sure I put myself in that mind state where I really mean what I’m saying. Like simple words [sings] “fine in every way even down to her feet.” Just bringing it across in a real way. AHHA: The state of R&B today has been criticized by many people who feel the music has reached a flatline state. Do you feel that there is something missing in the music you hear now? Young Steff: Honestly, me. For real. It’s missing me and I’m here. AHHA: What can be done to bring it back to the way it was? Young Steff: Honestly, right now R&B is building itself back up as far as us young boys coming back in. If you think about it, there about six or seven of us in the game that’s really doin’ it. AHHA: What can fans expect from your new album? Young Steff: Just a wide volume of good music that the grown women can listen to and the young women can listen to, and the homies in the hood can listen to and relate to it and the homies in the suburbs can relate to it. AHHA: You’re also known for dancing, which is evident with moves you’ve created. Which do you find more challenging, coming up with a unique dance move or creating and perfecting a song? Young Steff: You know what? They both have basically the same type of work ethic – to actually finish and make sure it’s right. So both of them are almost like the same, I can honestly say. As far as dancing, it’s definitely the time limit. It is not as long. It doesn’t take as long to bang out a whole routine for a joint, but actually creating a song in the studio it takes more work. AHHA: If you could work with any singer, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Young Steff: Personally, I would love to get all the young guys in the game right now on one record. Remember how Ginuwine and Tyrese and K-Ci were all on that one record? I would honestly like to do a 2007 version where all of us are on the record killin’ it. Definitely Chris Brown, Omarion, Ne-Yo. Sammie. Definitely Mario. All the young guys that’s doing it right now. To get us to all to jump on one record that would be huge. Talk about giving the fans what they want – now that would be something. Look forward to that, too because if I have any time to do it, I’ma make it happen.