Composer and Producer – Kerwin Young, Bringing His Game

April 26th, 2016

Longtime Public Enemy family member, Kerwin Young, is lending his talents to the soundtrack for the upcoming documentary for basketball’s influential star, Spencer Haywood and will be soon releasing the last Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement studio album on SLAMjamz.  Here’s a bit of what Kerwin has to say about these projects and what he’s up to now.

The SPITslam Group (Kate G): You’re producing some of the tracks for the new Spencer Haywood documentary soundtrack, “Full Court.” What’s involved to get this project going through completion and who are some of the artists involved?

Kerwin Young: I have to have an idea of the voices I'll be working with, how fast these people work, etc... Can I get a question answered from them in time? All of these little things dictate the workflow. I've cut some songs and inserts for the album with Spencer Haywood, Professor Daddy-O, Gambit, Chuck D, Antlive, and Khari Wynn.

The SPITslam Group: When you get a project like this, what research is involved in preparing to do the music?

Kerwin Young: For every project I engage, I do field research. For this particular project, I watched several videos about Spencer Haywood, taking a few sound bytes along the way. Then, I found out what types of music he liked, and began from there. The result was music in a few different genres: hip-hop, reggae, afro-beat, and EDM.

The SPITslam Group: I heard you have something new coming out on SLAMjamz. Tell us about it.

Kerwin Young: I've got another Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement album that's been sitting for almost 6 years, unreleased. I've made some amendments to it in recent months. It'll be the last Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement studio album. Kasuf will continue, but with other extended accompaniments.

The SPITslam Group: You are a very serious musician, having received a master’s in music composition from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservancy of Music and Dance. You were involved in the production of music for such movies as “The People VS O.J. Simpson,” “Dirty Grandpa,” “Street Fighter,” and “Sister Act 2.” Where do you see your musical path taking you in the next few years?

Kerwin Young: I've got over 12 large orchestral works just sitting around, including 4 symphonies with a combined performance time of about 5 ½ hours. It would be great to secure a residency with a major symphony orchestra like the L.A. Phil, working with Gustavo Dudamel. I would love that a lot! A residency would also allow me the time and space to complete my opera and a few other orchestral works that I've begun.  There's also my work for bass-baritone and piano, “Cry of the Queenless King” that I've been seeking to get premiered. I hope that more colleges will invite me to speak; many seem afraid to invite someone like me with beginnings in rap music. If we can get past the stereotypes, things would be a little better. I would love to meet Thom Bell! He’s one of my favorite producers of all-time!! I want to work with Adele!

The SPITslam Group: If given the choice for a movie to score, is there a movie genre that you would prefer?

Kerwin Young: Epic dramas, where I can compose for a huge orchestra. I'd love to score a weekly television drama if given another opportunity. I haven't done that since the debut season of New York Undercover, when I was a ghost composer for James Mtume.

The SPITslam Group: What type of music is the most fun for you to compose?

 Kerwin Young: Something I'm being paid for; seriously. Writing for large symphonic orchestra, triple or quadruple winds, 6-8 horns, 4-5 trombones, 2 tubas .... massive instrumentation!

The SPITslam Group: What type is the most challenging?

Kerwin Young: None so far.

The SPITslam Group: You have been in the recording industry since you were 17, having begun with Public Enemy, as a member in the Bomb Squad. What are some of the most memorable moments for you?

Kerwin Young: The growth from musician to disc jockey, to recording producer, to composer of 4 symphonies, and writing for film and television...that's been the trek. The rappers I've produced: Public Enemy, 2 Live Crew, Eric B. & Rakim, Gravediggaz, Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes, Yung Joc .... that's part of it. I've done a lot outside of my PE affiliation, even when I was younger. I went out and got my own work, and got work for others in the neighboring towns as well. The singers I've worked with: Tevin Campbell, Angie Stone, Eddie Kendricks and Bobby Byrd.The musicians: Roy Haynes, Bootsy Collins, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, Reginald R. Robinson, Canadian Brass, to name a few. The television shows: New York Undercover, the Flavor of Love, The People vs O.J. Simpson. The movies: “Sister Act 2,” “Juice,” “He Got Game,” “Dirty Grandpa.” Some of the projects I've done with Chuck D and the Bomb Squad, Ice Cube's Amerikkkaz Most Wanted, Searching for Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley's Chant Down Babylon, Let Freedom Sing, and others. Moments hanging out with Roy Haynes, the Rolling Stones, David Lee Roth, Quincy Jones, and Flavor Flav all priceless!!! 

Kate G is Kate Gammell for Update Reports on The SPITdigital SLAMjamz Recording Label Group