My name is Marvin Young, but most people know me as Young MC. I was born in England and raised in New York City. I was placed in gifted programs from the second grade forward, culminating in my attending and graduating from a gifted magnet school – Hunter College High School. It was during my high school years that my love for music blossomed, mainly at house parties and on mixtapes. After Hunter, I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California.
In September 1987, at the beginning of my junior year at USC I signed my first recording contract with Delicious Vinyl. Over the next 18 months I recorded my first album “Stone Cold Rhymin’.” My single “Bust A Move” was released in May 1989 (coincidentally during finals week of my senior year). “Bust A Move” went double platinum (over two million sales) and earned me a Grammy, an American Music Award, and a Billboard Award. Along with my own material, I co-wrote both “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina” for Tone Loc. Each of those songs went multi-platinum and established me as a proven songwriter even before I was known as an artist.
Being classified as a gifted student from the age of 7 helped me immensely in my music career, but counterintuitively. As a kid, I didn’t feel any different than anyone else and if I tried to brag or make a big deal about being gifted, it would cause more problems socially than it would solve. So, when I started receiving praise for my artistry and my songwriting, I just felt it was a continuation of my experience as a young student. I kept my head down, focused on my work and let other people praise me or point out what gifts I had. I quickly learned that being underestimated is the best position to be in.
I did a lot of observing and listening. Every person has a unique life experience, and there is always something in their unique experience that one can learn from. Even if it’s learning what not to do, it’s still valuable. Many people waste time and energy trying to look like the smartest person in the room when their first 30 seconds of conversation absolutely indicates otherwise. Walking into a room knowing that I could contribute something constructive to almost any conversation gave me a peaceful confidence. And those conversations that were beyond me were wonderful listening and learning opportunities. And as I got older, I found myself in fewer and fewer conversations beyond me.
One of the toughest things in life to deal with is when you realize the limitations of people around you. If you see one of your peers struggling with a problem that you’ve already solved in your head, what do you do? As a kid, my knee-jerk reaction would be to solve the problem for them and just move on. But while it was easy for me to move on, many times it was not as easy for the person I “helped.” They could react with embarrassment, resentment, jealousy, or outright anger. Or if they welcomed the help, they might think that the next time they faced a hard problem, the easiest thing to do would be to ask Marvin to solve it. In my work as a songwriter, I’ve experienced this during team writing sessions where I ended up doing most, if not all the work, even though the team is going to split the credit and the royalties evenly. After those episodes, I am understandably very selective about who I choose to sit down to write with.
I’ve realized that my six years at Hunter College High School were some of the most important years of my life. Beyond giving me the education, Hunter made me know that I wasn’t alone. Over thirty years later, I can have a conversation with one of my Hunter classmates and we will reach a level of understanding that I wouldn’t get with a non-Hunter person. The environment at Hunter felt different to me than my elementary school and it felt different from my college experience as well. My buddy Phil C. is one of my best friends who I met in college and who didn’t go to Hunter. I often praise him to my high school classmates by saying “He reminds me of a Hunter kid.”.
If a gifted student is in an unsupportive environment, their gift can feel more like a challenge. Combine that with the other pressures of being a student and it can prove to be a tough time. Everyone wants to fit in, but school can be a hard place to fit in. Kids will pick on you for being different, gifted or not. Whether it be racial, sexual, emotional, mental, or otherwise, insecure people look for some way to claim superiority. Especially when you’re in a learning environment, if you’re obviously learning a lot more than others you stand out. I’m not qualified to speak to the hardships of your other challenges, but in terms of dealing with being gifted, I just want you to know that you are not alone.
- If you felt that sense of exhilaration the first time you realized that you were capable of things that most people weren’t, you are not alone.
- If you struggled with how you incorporated your gift into your daily life with family and friends, you are not alone.
- If you saw your relationships change once others realized you were gifted, you are not alone.
- If people in your life have unrealistic expectations of your gift because they just don’t understand it, you are not alone.
- If you used your gift to help people in your life without them even knowing, you are not alone.
- If you downplayed your gift in order to fit in socially, you are not alone.
- If you are a minority and others in your group see your gift and accuse you of trying to be the majority, you are not alone.
- If you still feel that sense of exhilaration when you use your unique and special gift, you are not alone.
I thank you for your time and allowing me to share my thoughts with you. I hope you have every opportunity to share your gifts with the world, and feel the joy from doing so.
Marvin Young (aka Young MC) began rapping at the age of ten and continued honing his skills until he was signed to Delicious Vinyl in 1987 during his junior year of college. While completing his last two years at USC, Young MC helped write “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina” for Tone Loc. “Wild Thing” would sell nearly four million copies and Funky Cold Medina would sell well over two million copies. In January 2010 Young MC worked with DJ AL3 of the UFC and co-producer Beat Jacker to create new dance remixes of his melodic tune “Babe.” Young MC is adding to a legacy of providing music and entertainment to the masses which has lasted more than two decades. Follow Marvin Young on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.