The Break Presents: Young T & Bugsey
One of the most rewarding things about creativity is it helps you find and build a community. All over the world, there are teens making all kinds of art, and teaming up with each other via those mediums. This kind of thinking birthed Young T & Bugsey, two 23-year-old rappers from Nottingham, U.K. who have one of the biggest international rap hits of 2020 with "Don't Rush."
Young T & Bugsey found each other through a music collective (Extra Terrestrial Music Group) back in 2012, then officially became a duo around 2014. T had been making music for a while, starting out as a child; Bugsey didn't start until high school, but they combined their talents and kept working. Their union led to 2016's "Glistenin'," the song that got the record labels to start calling and got them outside of their hometown. "Greenlight" and their feature on Stay Flee Get Lizzy and Fredo's "Aye Caramba," among other tracks, followed in 2018. The duo are charismatic rappers, and blended that with their Afrobeat influences; this proved to be a winning strategy and just the beginning for their careers.
After years of working together and building their name up, Young T & Bugsey would catch a hit in 2019 with the Aitch-assisted "Strike a Pose," an Afropop-tinged song about a night out on the town looking for girls. The song went platinum in the U.K., but even more success lied ahead. "Don't Rush" featuring Headie One dropped in November of that year, and took off quickly on social media. The track was further spiked by the #DontRushChallenge on TikTok, in which participants appear in one outfit, cover the camera lens (a makeup brush for women or beard brush for me), then appear in a different ’fit while the song plays.
"Don't Rush" has now been streamed over 82 million times, reaching No. 19 on the U.K. Singles Chart, and No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track is a hit all over the world, and the internet helped spread the song fart past Nottingham. The duo went on to release their debut mixtape, Plead The 5th, in March of this year, and recently dropped a pair of remixes for "Don't Rush" that are more tailored to American audiences; DaBaby and Busta Rhymes got to rhyme on the song separately.
Now, with their names being known the world over, Young T & Bugsey chat with XXL about their journey so far for this week's edition of The Break.
Hometown: Nottingham, U.K.
I grew up listening to: Young T: "As a Jamaican, I grew up listening to a lot of reggae, a lot of rap, Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Beenie Man, all of that type of stuff. As far as rap and stuff, I would say 50 Cent, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg, probably that whole era when those were the mid-2000s. And then older, probably what I soaked up a lot was probably like Wale, J. Cole, Drake, Kendrick [Lamar]."
Bugsey: "My background is Nigerian, so, when I was growing up, there was a lot of Nigerian music in my household, but when I started becoming more aged and more conscious of what kind of stuff I wanted to listen to, definitely more got into 50 Cent. He's still my favorite rapper growing up. Talking about 50, Snoop [Dogg], Pharrell, everyone of that era, of that period of time, that was really pumping, in that mid-2000 kind of thing. That's when I really started plugging into music when I was younger. Growing older, it was Wale, of course, and Drake's my favorite rapper now."
My style’s been compared to: Young T: "Sometimes it's more geo-wise. A lot of people say we're like the U.K.'s Rae Sremmurd. A lot of people compared us to..."
I’m going to blow up because: Bugsey: " I feel like when we, me and T used to work together at the KFC, and worked together in a factory job, when me and T sat down and said to ourselves, 'Yo, we're quitting these jobs and we're focusing on music 24/7. This is what we're going to do,' there's no way, like it's this or no way. We knew we were going to make it. I feel like we said to ourselves, 'We're going to make it.' I feel like that's honestly what it was. I feel like we've always seen ourselves as being a rapper. Now we are these people. It's not a shock or surprise to us because we've put the word into action."
Bugsey: When I've looked at the future, when I imagine myself as an adult, when I was younger and imagined myself as an adult, I always imagined myself being this person. Do you know what I mean? So, it was like now we are these people. It's not a shock or surprise to us because we've put the word into action, type of thing. That's what we thought. Everything we've thought we're going to be, we're actually becoming. So, it doesn't feel like a shock, it just feels more like, Yeah, I'm doing it. I'm actually doing it.'"
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: Bugsey: "'Again.' To be honest, still to this day, 2019, last year, probably at March, still to this day, not one person has ever told me they don't like that song. Everyone's always told me that that song I think is really slept-on. But I think the second song that's slept on is 'En Route.' That's about it. At the time, for 'Again, it was probably at the time when we released it because at the time when we released it, if I'm being honest, we were still a name in the game, but our name was quiet for a bit.
"That was one of the songs we released with our name being quiet. I don't mean that 'En Route' didn't do well, it had done well, but I feel like it could have done way more. I felt like the period when we picked up songs, there was no other song like that in the U.K. And everyone, when that song dropped, it was like, we had just created a whole new different kind of vibe, a whole new different kind of pocket.
My standout records to date have been: Bugsey: "I think our top three biggest records so far is obviously 'Don't Rush,' 'Strike a Pose,' featuring Aitch...."
Young T: "'Ay Caramba' featuring Fredo. Or 'Gangland.'"
My standout moments to date have been: Bugsey: "'Don't Rush' being like a world hit. That's probably one of our biggest moments. It is a moment, but it's a long journey. It's not one thing. Yeah, it's a moment that you've experienced over a period of time. Shows-wise, when we performed at the O2 and Wembley Stadium in London. That was like back to back, and weeks apart. It was crazy. That was a sick moment."
Most people don’t know: Bugsey: I think probably, what people don't know about me and T, I think they wouldn't know that me and T are actually really funny. I don't want to gas us up. I'm just saying that if you spent a period with us, like a day with us, you'd see ourselves."
I’m going to be the next: Bugsey: "Young T and Bugsey, the next U.K. megastars. 100 percents."
"Don't Rush" featuring Headie One
"Strike A Pose" featuring Aitch
"Don't Rush" featuring DaBaby
Fredo & Young T & Bugsey (@StayFleeGetLizzy)'s "Ay Caramba"
Plead The 5th
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