Jay-Z’s Nephew Speaks: Young Mel

Despite being kin to rap’s King, Jay-Z’s nephew insists that he feels no pressure. Imagine having Jay-Z as an uncle. Money. Fame. Wealth. Bentleys. Could life really be that glamorous? With an uncle that is worth over $300 million dollars, earning the number one position on the Forbes lise of Hip Hop Cash Kings due […]

Despite being kin to rap’s King, Jay-Z’s nephew insists that he feels no pressure. Imagine having Jay-Z as an uncle. Money. Fame. Wealth. Bentleys. Could life really be that glamorous? With an uncle that is worth over $300 million dollars, earning the number one position on the Forbes lise of Hip Hop Cash Kings due to owning a few 40/40 clubs, selling Rocawear, and appearing in a couple of Budweiser commercials; if Jay-Z is eating, the family is eating. Jay-Z once stated, “I carry my nephews like my sons.” So, after the untimely death of his nephew, Colleek Luckie—who had plans to continue the Carter legacy of fine music and entrepreneurship—it is only right for another nephew, 19-year-old Ramel Carter a.k.a Young Mel to continue with his aspirations of achieving rap stardom. Young Mel opens up about being Jay-Z’s kin, forming his own label, (Natural Born Hustlaz Entertainment), and why he considers himself a new breed. AllHipHop.com: How are you related to Jay-Z?Young Mel: I’m his nephew. AllHipHop.com: What made you start up a label?Young Mel: To show people that I could do this by myself. I could have took the easy way and went to my uncle but I did everything myself and I showed him I can do it too. AllHipHop.com: How did you come up with the label name, Natural Born Hustlaz Entertainment?Young Mel: We don’t mean hustlin’ as in any illegal stuff. We just hustlin’. We get it any means necessary. Me and my two cousins came up [with the name] – me, Rah, and Spank. We were just up one night, chillin’. Me and Rah went through a bunch of names and N.B.H. just stuck.AllHipHop.com: Who are the artists on this label?Young Mel: It’s me, my two cousins- Spank and Young Rah, my homeboy J. Dot that I grew up with, A.K. and Sam Hook.  I met A.K. at a pizza shop. My boy met her actually and she gave us a demo. We heard it and we just grabbed her up. And Sam, my homeboy Carl introduced us at my little cousin’s baby shower. AllHipHop.com: What made you start rapping?Young Mel: I love music. [It was] to express myself and get some things off my chest like therapy. I use to be shy but now I’m not. When I [was] shy, I use to write to express what I feel. AllHipHop.com: Who is your inspiration?Young Mel: Me, my mama, my uncle, my family… all my family.AllHipHop.com: How old were you when you began to rap?Young Mel: I started to rap when I saw the “Aint No N***a” video but I began toshow people [when] I was 16, 17.AllHipHop.com: On the “Anything” track, he started the third verse as if he were writing a letter, “Dear nephews, I’m writing this with no pen or a pad. And I’m signing it, your uncle, your best friend, and your dad…” How has Jay-Z affected you?Young Mel: He’s like my biggest influence in life, ever. That line right there proves everything. I ain’t have a father when I was growing up. He’s like my father. He’s like my brother. He’s like my best friend. [He’s] all that in one. AllHipHop.com: How did the untimely death your cousin affect you? Young Mel: That right there just stopped everything. I felt like the whole world stopped. It made me appreciate life more and look at life different. It made me focus on what I wanted to do. AllHipHop.com: Have you met Jay-Z or is he just Uncle Shawn all the time?Young Mel: Uncle Jay, not Shawn. That’s my real uncle. We [are] a normal family.AllHipHop.com: How is Christmas at your house?Young Mel: Everybody gets everybody a gift, just like you would. [Laughs] We do a grab bag. We put names in a hat. We do all that. AllHipHop.com: So does anyone ever expect anything extravagant from your uncle?Young Mel: You better tell him what you want or you ain’t going to get nothing. AllHipHop.com: Does he still make time for the family?Young Mel: Yeah, of course. We a real family. I can call him right now and he will answer, we talk. AllHipHop.com: On the Panjabi MC’s “Beware of the Boys” track, Jay began the song “It’s the Roc in the building/ Colleek, Ramel, Jarell/ I got my nephews in the house.” How does it feel being in the studio with him?Young Mel: Electrifying. It’s like sitting on the floor watching Jordan play. It’s what he do. AllHipHop.com: Are you the only brother that raps?Young Mel: Nah, my younger brother Jarrell raps but he doesn’t take it seriously. He’s going to be my bodyguard. He’s big as hell. He’s like 6’8. AllHipHop.com: On the “Lucky Me” track, he stated “I pray hard that none of my nephews want to be stars.” Is that what you mean when you said that they wanted you to go to school? Young Mel: Yeah and he said it on AllHipHop.com that he doesn’t suggest it at me. At the end of the day, it is my decision. I’m a man now. I figured that he didn’t want me to go through all the bullsh*t. Like all the bullsh*t to go through in being a star. I feel like he was protecting me. AllHipHop.com: In high school, did people treat you differently?Young Mel: Some people but all my life people treated me differently. My mother would teach me that all people are not your friends. From what I seen, it’s true. Some people try to use me but I can see a snake from far away. I cut the grass on that @ss. AllHipHop.com: How can you distinguish your real friends from the fake ones?Young Mel: I can just tell who my real friends. I would give them a test. I might leave them at my house and leave something important out when I leave and if it’s here when they are there, they good. I got a close circle and if you ain’t in it then you’re an associate. AllHipHop.com: You must occassionally hear people criticizing or hating on Jay-Z, how do you deal with it? Young Mel: Now, it’s like nothing. Before I use to get mad and want to fight them because you’re talking about Jay-Z, but you are talking about my uncle. It’s like that’s a little disrespectful because that’s my real family member. It’s like, Hey watch your mouth. He said it best, he won’t take it from nobody. So, if he don’t take it, I’m not going to take it from nobody, no more. AllHipHop.com: What is the one advice that he gave to you that you will never forget?Young Mel: Finish school and you can get anything in this world. AllHipHop.com: You did the Faces in the Crowd showcase did you get to meet with anyone?Young Mel: I was suppose to but they played me. I didn’t get my meeting. But with Faces in the Crowd, when I started doing shows in New York, I didn’t tell people who I was. I didn’t tell them that I was Jay-Z’s nephew. I just did them to prove to myself that I can do it. I use to win all these talent shows and it was a test to myself that I can do it without him. AllHipHop.com: In the AllHipHop.com feature, Jay-Z stated a couple of things that I found interesting. The first is, “Then he’ll have a “Big Uncle” record and it’ll be all good.” Now, what would you rap about if you were to make that track?Young Mel: I don’t think I would make a “Big Uncle” record. I would make something different.AllHipHop.com: Does Jay-Z have your CD in the car? Does he comment on your work?Young Mel: I put a package together of songs that I think is hot like a mini-album. Then I bring it up to Big Homie and he criticizes like tough love. He criticizes and tells me to work on it. AAllHipHop.com: Do you ever take offense to his opinion?Young Mel: Never. Because if he ain’t going to keep it real with me then who will? I rather him tell me because he is looking out for me. AllHipHop.com: Have you ever been on stage with your uncle?Young Mel: I’ve been on stage with him but not performing with him. I’ve been in the background. That sh*t was crazy. It’s overwhelming. I want that. That’s what I see and I want that. It’s motivation.AllHipHop.com: Can you be the next Jay-Z?Young Mel: No, there could never be a next Jay-Z. I’m going to be the next one. AllHipHop.com: You already know people are going to expect a lot from you as opposed to any other upcoming rapper. In other words, they want a Lil Hovie running around. Now, how are you going to handle the pressure that people are going to bring to you? Young Mel: I’m going to just be me. They have to accept me for me. AllHipHop.com: What if you had to do a track with Jay and he doesn’t like your verse, would you have to go back and do it again? Young Mel: I think it would bring the best out of me. It’s a challenge. You already know and he already knows what he’s bringing. He is going to go in. If I don’t match that, I won’t even get on the song. I’m only going to embarrass myself. AllHipHop.com: Would you consider rapping if your uncle wasn’t rapping?Young Mel: Yeah because I just love music. I just don’t love him; I love all good music. AllHipHop.com: Who are your influences?Young Mel: My family, my uncle Hov- of course- Big, Pac, Dre, Snoop. It’s a lot. AllHipHop.com: What’s your favorite Jay-Z album?Young Mel: I’m going to pick The Blueprint, because the tracks on that were amazing. It was music. It changed Hip-Hop.AllHipHop.com: What producer would you want to work with?Young Mel: Timbaland and Dre. Those are my two favorite producers, ever. Timbaland with that FutureSexLoveSounds [Justin Timberlake], the beats on there is crazy, like the next level. AllHipHop.com: Do random people ever come up to you and say, “You look like Jay-Z?” Young Mel: All the time, since I was younger. Like I was saying before with the shows in New York, some people know who I was by looking at me and they would come up to me. I brought my grandmother to a show and she’s famous. So they would notice her. I had to cut that out and tell her that she can’t come no more. AllHipHop.com: Wait, you told your grandmother she couldn’t come anymore?Young Mel: Ha ha, it was a joke. [Laughs]AllHipHop.com: What do you want to do in the future? Back in the Reasonable Doubt days, Jay would say after the first album, I’m quitting. But now he is going to other countries and donating, volunteering, giving his time back. Do you ever see yourself doing that?Young Mel: Yeah, I see that but right now I am just focused on my music. I got to knock this out the way. I don’t look at the future; I take it a day at a time. I live for the moment. AllHipHop.com: Do you have the same mentality as your uncle in which after the first album you are going to quit?Young Mel: Nah. But Jay-Z was in a whole different mind state when he did the first album. So, that’s probably why he was saying that. He was on a totally different level. He was thinking about some other s**t. AllHipHop.com: When do you plan on getting signed? Young Mel: I don’t know. Hopefully soon, before the summer [of 2008]. AllHipHop.com: What message are you trying to send to the listeners?Young Mel: I’m coming. AllHipHop.com: That’s not a message.Young Mel: Yeah, it is. They didn’t hear nothing yet, so I’m coming. AllHipHop.com: Why should we take time out to listen to your music?Young Mel: Because I have a story to tell, everybody likes a new story. www.myspace.com/nbhyoungmel