In the interest of full disclosure, the artist interviewed is in a relationship with a non-editorial member of Garnet & Black's staff.
Mid-interview, Jack Young pauses for a moment. Just before he gives what I expect to be a definitively profound definition of his own music, he starts to laugh.
“It’s like, Gay Trap. I’ll call it ‘Gap,’” he jokes before cracking up some more. But then, once again, the tone turns serious: “I just thought it would be interesting to have a gay person’s perspective on trap, which is what I wanted to do with this record.”
This is generally how conversation goes with the Savannah-based rapper known as JVCK; after saying something truly prolific, his face begins to shift into a smile and he makes a lighthearted comment. But all joking aside, one thing is clear after hearing him discuss his upcoming "Yoncé Taught Me" EP. Young is demanding respect, along with a cemented place in both society and the music industry, for all marginalized groups of people. The EP is full of strong societal messages and critiques of a genre that he feels needs a much larger space for minorities, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
On tracks like “Crown the King,” he’s also quick to call out a ridiculous streaming culture within the rap industry that has turned a blind eye to artistry and talent, treating music instead like an algorithm meant to bind an artist to the charts.
“I think it’s utter bull****. I think the way that we see music now is in charts and numbers, and through machinery. But that’s one reason why I love “Crown the King” so much," Young says. "It’s this idea that as an independent artist, I’m more preoccupied with the quality that I can create with what I have, more so than trying to use a huge budget like a famous artist would, to enhance and be more popular.”
The track also critiques just how far ironic truths can go in rap music. His lyrics ironically mimic the flex culture that he observes in most Top 40 rap songs, a strategy used by rappers meant to show off or demean critics.
“I mean I do talk sh** on there, kind of, but I say things like, ‘Sporting my Versace/Haters can’t afford to live/Haters can’t afford to breathe.’ And I’m being literal when I say these things. Like, I’m not trying to say I have all of this money, but I do have a Versace cologne,” he says.
But despite the parodies of ridiculous lyrics on the parts of modern rappers, the lyrics of the EP also find him demanding respect as a member of the LGBTQ+ community within the often homophobic and exclusive rap culture, especially on the song “Meditations.” The track consists of Jack’s personal thoughts on the issue, which prompted me to ask him how the lyrics respond directly to the homophobia and marginalization within the industry’s artists.
“I think, especially being a rapper and being gay, it’s important that we have people who are gay or part of the queer community that are rapping and creating that space for up-and-coming people who want to rap, and are good at it, and want to make a career out of it. ‘Meditations’ is literally a meditation of things I think about all the time, like racism, sexism, misogyny and people who are killed because of police brutality, especially people of color who are targeted," he says. "It’s very important for me to use my voice. Being gay is one thing, but being a white male, I have a platform to use my voice so that people will listen to me. And I think it’s important to use that for the greater good. Sorry, that was a mouthful,” he laughs, once again reverting to the earlier interview pattern, but I don’t mind.
He spoke like a true king.