Molded By The Best In The West: Young De a.k.a. Demrick


For Philadelphia native Young De a.k.a. Demrick Shelton, Philly To Cali was more than just the title of a debut project of his former group, Tangled Thoughts. It was a move that would prove to take his career to heights he had always dreamed of. On the advice of his favorite rapper and mentor, Kurupt, Young De left his roots in Philly and moved out West, where he has worked alongside a Who’s-Who of West Coast legends, including Kurupt, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and more.

With the co-sign of celebrated air personality DJ Skee, Young De released his debut mixtape titled Audio Hustlaz Vol. 1, which B-Real contributed to as a producer and co-executive producer (with Damizza), and was heavily featured on several tracks. It was presented by DJ Skee and hosted by Kurupt. The follow-up to his Audio Hustlaz Vol. 1 mixtape was the Homeland Security mixtape, a collaboration with Shady/Interscope artist Ca$his, hosted by DJ Whoo Kid with collaborations with B-Real, Royce Da 5’9, and Crooked I, among others.

Since then, he has infiltrated the Internet with fire and traveled around the world carrying the Hip-Hop baton for the next generation of MCs. Currently working on his debut project with producer Jim Jonsin, Young De is definitely up next. You’ve been spending a lot of time out of the country. Tell me what’s been going on with you this past year.

Young De: Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of touring with Xzibit. We spent two months in Europe and one month in Australia. I’ve been doing a lot of music also. This past year, I dropped a few projects. One was a project with DJ Fingaz and On Smash, and I shot some videos with Matt Alonzo formerly of Skee TV. I also dropped an EP with Scoop Deville called Never Look Back, and that did its thing on the Internet, and I did three videos for that.

I shot almost all my visuals with Matt; he and I have a long standing relationship. We have about 12 videos together, and this year was coo,l because me and Xzibit had a music licensing deal with this company that I helped him with, and they got a hold of two of our songs and said they were better than stuff that normally gets placed on television as background music. So they put some money into it; we shot some videos and put them on MTV as singles, so that was cool that we had some songs in rotation. Also, I dropped a new mixtape called Heads Up and released a video off of it titled “Burn Out”, produced by Jim Jonsin, and I’m currently in the studio working with X on his record and working with Jim Jonsin on my album – so this year has been crazy. Tell me about your situation with Jim Jonsin. How did that come about?

Young De: That came about from working on the Cypress Hill record about a year and a half ago. I got called into the studio by B-Real to give some input on some of the songs, so I came into the Record Plant recording studio, and there’s Jim Jonsin who was doing the session. And he has all the people from Capitol, Cypress Hill, and all the people from Rebel Rock all in there working, so we spent three days over there working on records and building a rapport, and he gave me his contact and said when he’s out in L.A., we’re gonna work. He started sending me music, and he put me in with his producer called Finatik N Zac, two kids from Australia. And from there, we just started making records, and I just actually released a video called “She’s a Freak”, also directed by Matt and produced by Danny Morris and Jim Jonsin. So are you signed to Jim?

Young De: Well, I’m down here in Ft. Lauderdale working on some songs and putting together my album, so I’m definitely repping Rebel Rock. Who’s on your project so far?

Young De: We’re still in the beginning stages, and it’s crazy, because this is the first time in all the time that I’ve been doing stuff that I’ve actually been working on my own record. I’ve always pushed my own stuff to the back. It’s always been on my mind to do an album, but I never went around telling people I was working on one, because it was never the right situation. Now that it is, I’m just taking my time so that it truly reflects who I am. If you had to describe Young De, who is he?

Young De: I would just say Young De a.k.a. Demrick because I like to put out my real name, ya know, because I feel like the perspective that I’m telling my story from is that there is a story that hasn’t been told and it’s mine. So I’m just giving people the perspective of all the stuff that I’ve gone through, everything I’m seeing and the way I came up not really having much and just going for it.

Hustling my whole life, it’s been a goal that I’ve been working for, so it’s about putting music out that makes people feel like they can do that same exact thing. All the trials and tribulations, all the sh*t that some might go through; I put that into my music. I represent just enjoying it, so I think that the point I’m at with it is really telling it from point of view. How long have you been out on the West Coast?

Young De: Six years. I’m all in now; I’m all the way Cali now. Palm trees and everything. I had always said this West Coast living turned my Timbs into Chucks, and Xzibit said this West Coast living turned my Chucks into bucks! What keeps you going and focused?

Young De: When I came to Cali, I had to make the decision that this was how I was gonna get it, and no matter what happened I went forward and I was fortunate to have the support. I’ve had B-Real who came and worked with me, and I’ve always had a place, and even if I didn’t have a place to live, I always had a studio I could go to. So, for real it always was a good look for me, like right now being at Parkland Playhouse Studios, which is an amazing facility, looking at all these plaques on the wall and all this platinum all around me, how can I not be motivated? I have a place set up, I have a studio, I have plenty of music and someone here to help me with ideas. How can I not be motivated? Where does Young De fit in the landscape of Hip-Hop?

Young De: I feel like Hip-Hop is swinging back in my direction. Swinging back into making real music and having fun with it, and getting your point across, too, so that’s good. It’s flying somewhere between the Wiz Khalifas, the Big Seans , The Drakes, the J. Coles, all that kinda stuff that has the ability to tell stories with their sh*t, because I’m all about that. You know, I wanna have fun and of course, I want to talk to the ladies, too! I feel like I fit right in, so that’s how I can work someone like Runway Star who produced “Teach me how to Dougie”, and then work with Scoop Deville. It’s all great music, and it’s all a little different at the same time, because Scoop makes like commercial Hip-Hop, and I can get with him and do some throwback Fam-lay sh*t. Speaking of Runway Star, it’s commendable that you work with a female producer. How do you feel about working with new producers versus established, and what attracted you to Runway Star?

Young De: I think Star and Nigel (The Makerz) are just on some cutting edge s### with their production. Nigel is very musical, and Star knows how to make the drums knock and keep it fresh. At first, it was strange because I’ve met female DJs, but I never met a female who produced and had some records like that, so I was intrigued to see it go down. I was like, ‘Is this real, or is it someone else back there hitting those buttons?’ But I got in there, and she’s like, “Hey, we’re gonna sample this into “Reasons”, and I wanna play around with these drop loops, and she started banging it out, and next thing you know, we just started going in, and that’s how I judge. If I can write songs to your music, I don’t care how big you are, because I’m gonna go into it with the same mentality every single time and just try to create material that is gonna work and that represents me and the producer I’m working with. Who haven’t you worked with that you would like to work with?

Young De: I want to work with a lot of people; I’m just getting started. I have the Cypress Hills and the Xzibits and the Jim Jonsins and things of that nature, but it’s time to start reaching out. I recently hooked up with the homie Asher Roth, and we’re gonna bang out a record, so it’s just about meeting people and creating. What do you want people to say about you and your music at the end of the day?

Young De: I just want my music to speak to anyone out there who is trying to do something. If you want the blueprint, I’m living it right now. In my videos, if you go back and watch 12 videos ago and see my transition and growth up until now, it’s like I’m growing up in front of my fan base, and they’re watching me grow and get better. If you want to see somebody pushing through this game and making it happen, just check me out.

Follow Young De on Twitter (@IamDEMRICK).