Young Troubled Minds, a hip-hop duo from Cleveland Ohio, consists of two brothers – Christopher Hicks (a.k.a. Pro Young) and Steven Hicks (a.k.a. Au). These two emcees are currently making massive waves in the music community.
Young Troubled Minds are entirely self-sufficient in producing, writing recording, and mixing all of their music. In having total creative control of their music, these brothers have managed to create a classic sound for hip-hop. We simply had to learn more about them and their music – for some answers, responses are split between both Au and Pro, and are specified when this occurs.
Sit back, press play and read the interview below:
What was your process for writing One Big Session?
The process for One Big Session in-short was an unstructured symphony. We wanted to create a project that was honest to our lifestyle but was personified in a way that whoever listened to it, could relate to it and become engulfed in our world. We call ourselves functional stoners, meaning yes, we do get high as hell, but at the same time we channel that euphoria and imaginative thinking into physical manifestations. One Big Session is one of many creations that have manifested, and only the beginning.
I always find it interesting when siblings make music together. Did you guys grow up in a musical household – What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
No, we did not grow up in a musical household; we played a few instruments in high school as required curriculum, but that was about it. However, we did grow up in a strong christian household, so being raised around “Black” church music did influence us with elements of soul & rhythm.
Black-christian music has been in the majority of our lives; our dad was the teen coordinator for our childhood church, and would bring in “holy hip-hop” artists from around the United States. The majority of those artists were pretty dope, and the genre could contest as the biggest early influence for the both of us. To name a few, early musical influences for Pro includes: Daft Punk, Kanye West, Young Jeezy, The Gorillaz, and Lil Wayne. A few early musical influences for Au includes: Kanye West, the entire smooth jazz genre, and soul music of any kind.
How did you guys get start making music?
Au: “It naturally happened. We started making music together the summer of my junior year in high school down in our parents basement. I had never written a rhyme before, and my first rap took a week to make. After I finally perfected and recorded it, I loved it and we just kept doing it because it was fun and were bored.”
Pro: “I was performing long before Au came around; I was doing shows in clubs around the city of Cleveland with our cousin Ryan when I was only 16. I just remember grinding all the time, like going to random people’s studios. After a while, the grind wasn’t fun anymore, it didn’t have the same feeling it had when I first started. After Au started his freshman year, attending the same college as me (Kent State University), and we became roommates, the fun in music came back, and it became more and more apparent that we just needed to make it a permanent thing.”
When I was doing research on you guys I discovered that you do everything from (producing, writing, recording and mixing). So whats your recording process like?
Au produces 90% of the music, 10% of the time Pro will come out of nowhere with a genius production, but 90% of the time Au is creating the beats and then Pro manipulates them by bringing out different elements; he’s the engineer, the mixer and masters everything. He does all the technical work too (graphics, web design, etc). We both write lyrics; 75% of the time Pro comes up with the chorus or the topic of the song and then we piggyback off of each other and toss ideas back and forth. Aside from the chorus, we both write our own lyrics (no Quentin Miller’s over here lol). The process is always very free-flow and natural.
Since you’re brothers do you guys ever butt heads when it comes to concepts or verses?
Yes, we always debate over ideas, but like the saying goes: two heads are better than one. We both come up with amazing creations, so the end result of those arguments is always magic.
When did you first realize that you guys had something special?
The moment we realized we had something “special” was after we created the first song made for the “One Big Session” Ep entitled, “Zone feat. Simba Jamaal” (which happened to become the last song on the project). We finished that song the same day Au produced it, and the rest is history (or will be).
Is there a particular artist or group that has influenced you in some way?
As far as direct influences go, the biggest name to mention (again) is Kanye West. His career speaks for itself. The dude is debatably the greatest musical composer of our generation, and we’re looking to take his throne.
What’s the music scene like in Cleveland – Is there anyone else we should check out?
The music scene in Cleveland is a work in progress; there are definitely some dope cats out there like Tae Miles (rapper) and The Voice & The Symbol (singer), but as far as artists out there with the same vision and direction as us, Cleveland is lacking heavy. The sound out here is still one-dimensional, but it’s definitely getting better. However, while we’re mentioning artists to watch, definitely check out Queens, New York artist Simba Jamaal; he’s been working with us closely and is the only official feature on One Big Session.
Pro: “The best album so far for me has to be Kendrick’s, “To Pimp A Butterfly”. Overall the vision and execution for that album was phenomenal. He took a familiar sound from a classic era and brought it into a generation that is considered to be like a “microwave”. He’s doing something in hip-hop that hasn’t been done in a while. I gotta give it up to J. Cole as an honorable mention too.”
Au: “The best album to me so far this year has to be Asap Rocky’s, A.L.L.A. That tape from top to bottom was an instant classic.”
Meek Mill or Drake?
Pro: “Drake Floyd Mayweather-ed the situation; he took on a challenge he knew he could win. What happened with the Common beef???”
Au: “Meek who?”
Whats next for Young Troubled Minds?
The Young Troubled Minds are on the rise; we have a lot of great music in the vault and many great ideas to come into fruition. Currently we are doing shows around North-East Ohio, and building up our team (shout-out to Dj DirtE and Kidd Cannon). We’re all about quality so we are definitely still promoting One Big Session and simply growing our fan base. The goal by the end of the year is to set up a U.S. tour and rock out with all the Young Troubled Minds in the country; from there we take over the world.
For more from Young Troubled Minds, check them out on Tradiio.