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Social media and technology inspire CalArts Alumnus, Yung Jake, and his neo-rap

November 14, 2013
Spin

by Paddy Johnson

Yung Jake, Video Prankster and Meta-Rapper, Turns the Hustle into Art

More plugged-in than your average Tumblr-rapper, recent CalArts graduate and hip-hop enthusiast Yung Jake makes music that treats the clichés of digital culture — social-media shares, blog mentions, and video plays — like art instead of just conduits to promoting it. His single "E.m-bed.de/d," for example, opens up a flurry of pop-up windows on your computer, featuring different parts of the same video, with rocketing YouTube view-counts and glowing "endorsements" from @justinbieber, Terry Richardson, Pitchfork, and even my own site, Art F City.

So, is there a relationship between the aspirational money-power-respect tone of contemporary hip-hop and the desire for Facebook likes? Maybe, but Yung Jake’s interest seems to lie simply in creating popular music through his own worldview. “All rap is self-reflexive,” the artist says via text message — oh yeah, he only does interviews via text messages. “When you rap ur saying 'I’m a rapper and this is a rap and I’m gonna tell you something to a beat in the form of a rap. And I’m good at rapping and these are other things I’m doing with my life.'"

It’s hard to imagine any music more reflective of this than Datamosh, an essentially content-free rap video in which Yung Jake digitally erodes the pixels that render his image while rapping about the, by now well-worn, digital-art technique. If it’s about anything, it’s about itself. Read more.

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