Do More Project MVP WINNER

YNG Martyr

From rap battling on Call Of Duty to conquering the global charts, it seems like creativity has always been a part of YNG Martyr’s life. And while we know that the new COD Black Ops Cold War just dropped, you probably won’t find this Canberra prospect’s bars in those lobbies these days. He’s busy making moves, improving his craft, and finding new ways to share his artistry with the world.

However, when you first listen to YNG Martyr’s ‘Nike Ticks,’ which now has over 28 million streams on Spotify, you can tell that this is a guy who spent his time Loaded Lux-ing the opposition in Xbox party chats. He raps unabashedly over a hard-hitting yet straightforward beat, with a weapon loadout containing swagger, braggadocio, and slick flows. In the video, he’s sporting a Family Guy tee and Crocs in a self-aware manner that’s since lent itself to meme-culture, with the ferocity of the song finding success in the TikTok realms. And while YNG MARTYR comes heavy with the humour, the guys is no joke. He’s got rapidly rising tracks like ‘Ease Off,’ ‘Die In The End,’ and ‘Nightstand’ with YNG ONE that showcases his sonic diversity, as well as his own business in the form of YNG Marketing—centered around finding the best way to break through the URL floodgates.

To celebrate ‘Nike Ticks’ leading YNG Martyr to become the winner for the 2020 Acclaim All-Stars MVP award, we hit up the Capital City to discuss everything from the inspiration to his craft and his recording process to the importance of marketing in an ever-changing industry.

“I truly believe that Australia is on the cusp of something great, and it’s due to our culture. As an Indigenous person, I feel hip hop has really opened up a window of opportunity and acceptance for all of us and put everybody on an equal playing field.”

Acclaim Allstars 2020

I’ve read that before the music, you would rap battle on Call Of Duty. But when did you know that music was the ultimate goal?
The good old COD lobby days, I was around 14-15 when a kid in a COD lobby asked me to rap battle him, I laid him out and the whole lobby went ballistic, It gave me a feeling I had never really felt before and so I spent the next years learning how to freestyle and think on the spot. For a while, this was nothing more than a party trick, but eventually, it evolved into my creative output and consumed the majority of my time. I properly started to write music after I started listening to Mac Miller and Earl Sweatshirt and remixing their songs. After a few years of this, I started diving into books like The Master Key System and Think and Grow Rich and it quickly became apparent that I really had found a passion and purpose in music. Eventually, I realised I had no option, it was either suffering in the mediocrity of a 9 to 5 job I hated or risking stability in the process of becoming an artist. It was an easy choice for me.

Your artistic approach transcends just the fields of the music itself, but everything that surrounds it. Who are some of the artists, or what are some of things, that inspire this approach?
Music is so much more than the audio we create, especially for a musician, I feel that we are putting our being into what we create, and that is what people
are so drawn to when they consume art. On the music front, I’m heavily inspired by artists like Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, X, James Blake, Tigers Jaw, MF Doom and a tonne of others and this shows in the variety in my music. Speaking generally, I owe a lot of my approach to my life in general to artists and authors like Napoleon Hill, Paulo Coelho (ps. read The Alchemist, its insane!), Eckhart Tolle and the likes.

Your music shuffles through a variety of different styles, but always maintains a core sense of fun. What’s the general process of how a YNG Martyr song is created?
Tonnes of freestyle recordings. I usually just lay down 10-15 layers of takes and use that to find flows and compose the song with. I find when I try too hard to think about what I’m doing I trip over my own thoughts. I love the spontaneity of expressing whatever I think or feel in the moment, this lets me create something new each time and lets me create what I truly want, rather than what my logical brain tells me will be “good”.

You’re one of the many great artists rising in this golden era of Australian rap. What makes our scene so good right now?
Culture! I truly believe that Australia is on the cusp of something great, and it’s due to our culture. As an Indigenous person, I feel hip hop has really opened up a window of opportunity and acceptance for all of us and put everybody on an equal playing field.

Everything surrounding ‘Nike Ticks’ seemed to be destined for success. From the track itself to the self-awareness of the music video and promotion. Do you think that kind of transparency is needed to break through in the world of jam-packed content creators on the internet?
That track came at a perfect time in my life, it dropped in October and I’d made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be working a 9 to 5 by December that year. I’d just taken out a dodgy bank loan for $15k and planned to use that to live off after quitting my job, instead, I ended up investing it into marketing the song, definitely the most “fuck it” moment of my life. I believe that above all, utter belief in yourself is what is needed to succeed in ANY endeavour in life. Faith (whether Religious or not) is the basis of all progression, and I feel more often than not we all lack a degree of faith in our art and our choices.

What do you think is more important today: A record label, or viral forces like MuchDank? And why?
Over the past few years, the industry has shifted, it’s allowed people in their bedrooms to break out overnight, so in a lot of ways I think creative marketing and viral influencer campaigns are the way forward, not only for artists but labels too. People underestimate the power they have when it comes to getting their music heard and that needs to change. In saying this, a label can be an amazing force of good for an artist and they can supply things we simply cannot get as indies, but having background knowledge of marketing and business goes a long way in ensuring you find yourself in a mutually beneficial agreement when it comes time for a label to step in.

“Eventually, I realised I had no option, it was either suffering in the mediocrity of a 9 to 5 job I hated or risking stability in the process of becoming an artist. It was an easy choice for me.”

You also have your own music marketing company called YNG Marketing. Could you talk us through its creation, and the things you’ve learned about the music industry while spearheading it?
YNG Marketing came about after I realised how powerful influencer marketing was. I started running campaigns for close friends and also teaching the homies in YNG more about it, eventually, we linked up with some Sony Pipeline labels and started running campaigns for their artists based overseas. Through this, the number one thing I have realised is that every artist you see, from Taylor Swift to Drake has an extensive marketing team working with them, so why shouldn’t I? YNG Marketing became that team.

Do you ever feel as if the focus on marketing even hinders your creative process? Or does the creative process fuel the marketing that follows?
Never. I feel that to be a successful musician you also have to be a successful business person. I love the feeling I get when I switch between my creative and business mind, it’s refreshing to be able to work on a different aspect of my art without feeling bored or burnt out. I also love the feeling of simply giving my music the chance to be heard, people will never know how good something is until they are given a taste, and that’s what marketing allows me to do.

I’ve seen you say that one of your favourite quotes is “You could have the best song in the world on a USB stick, and if you get that USB and throw it into the woods, no-one is going to know that’s the best song ever.” What’s the YNG basic guide for new artists trying to promote a song?
So many wasted USBS 🙁 On the real, I stand by this statement wholeheartedly, and I mean it with no disrespect to artists. If you have a hit song, it deserves to be heard. I would tell new artists to pay close attention to how they currently discover new music and go from there, you’ll notice we find a lot of our music on memes, Youtube channels, TikTok, etc. Majority of these content creators are reachable by simply contacting them and explaining your vision. Things will start small but eventually, you will find yourself with an extensive network of influencers, supporters and like-minded people, all interested in helping you succeed. Bless the internet.

Just lastly, what’s next for YNG Martyr?
I’m going to sound cliche, but you’ll just have to wait and see.

“I find when I try too hard to think about what I’m doing I trip over my own thoughts. I love the spontaneity of expressing whatever I think or feel in the moment, this lets me create something new each time and lets me create what I truly want, rather than what my logical brain tells me will be good.

Follow YNG Martyr here for more.

Words: Henry Owens
Photography: Jane Inyang