How a teenage rapper from Chattanooga took his musical dreams to the next level, and how he’s overcome the early challenges in his career.
Photos by H2O_Atlanta
In just under two years, 13-year-old rapper Jarun “YM” Collier went from being “the new kid on the block,” to signing with record label Ncredible Entertainment and assuming a prominent role in the breakout boyband Ncredible Crazy Kids.
Not long after performing across Tennessee in his Splatt Tour and promoting original singles on Instagram, YM gained the attention of television icon and rapper Nick Cannon. And after entering a contest on Instagram, YM was one of five teenage artists hand-picked by Cannon out of 17,000 young and hopeful musicians to form NCK.
The group, which in October released their first singles Drip and Crazy, features an ensemble of young men who boast impressive singing, dancing, rapping and acting skills. NCK also has a YouTube channel, where they post song covers, Q&As and trendy videos like food challenges and a Mukbang.
Every young artist inevitably encounters their first major setback, and few are strangers to the struggles attached to COVID-19. YM acknowledged the challenges he’s faced due to the global pandemic and its impact on both travel and the music industry.
“It definitely has affected not just my plans, but the world’s plans,” he said. “It has pushed back a lot of things musically for me when it comes to working with the gang [NCK].”
Despite the challenges, though, NCK recently resumed posting videos to YouTube on a more regular basis and has seen an outpouring of support for their newly released singles. YM seems optimistic about the “major surprises” their futures hold.
It can be difficult for budding artists to tap into their identity and find a unique style toward the beginning of a career, and especially at such a young age. Fighting the urge to follow trends and craft mainstream work to satisfy massive audiences can be a challenge.
YM, though, aims to set himself apart from the crowd both lyrically and physically.
“The pink hair is definitely my signature statement,” he said. “What makes me unique is not fitting in … I have fun always, but I don’t rap about guns or cuss in my raps.”
With new musical trends being shared, consumed and imitated so broadly—due in part to how virtually interconnected the world has become during the pandemic—it’s exciting to see a young, local artist making a name for himself by challenging the status quo and being a trendsetter.
You can keep up with YM’s musical journey on his Instagram.