Time to Shine

GSU rapper Ellis “Dray” Young will be the opening act Friday at the Home- coming Concert.

Opening acts are often believed to be performed by inexperienced artists, but GSU student Ellis Young is no newbie. He is more than prepared to open the Home- coming Concert on Friday, to show Grambling he has what it takes to keep the crowd entertained.
“I feel amazing, I am an old- school brother, and I listen to Silk, Jagged Edge, and 112 as if they are new artists,” said Young, a junior business management major. “I love all of their music, so it makes performing the opening act for these talented artists that much more of an honor.”
Young began rapping when he was in the fifth grade. His passion for rap — and music overall — has grown tremendously since then, which influenced him to practice and hone his skills.
“The direction of music has shifted enormously in a 21-year period,” he said. “In the ’90s it was more of an era of gangsta rap, conscious lyricism, political battles between artists and high position politicians, and censorship. Now in the 2000s, it is more so the digital and social media world, making it way easier for an artist to be heard.”
The Shreveport native writes his own lyrics, and also writes song lyrics for other artists. He has yet to master making beats, but it is something he does for fun.
Young said he enjoys music with all his heart and he loves when his listeners give him feedback so that he is able to improve and then share his improvements.
“Music makes me feel I can get my message out to the world with a beat and my own lyrics, which gives it my original style,” Young said. “As long as the feedback I get is honest, I’ll love it. I can only take the criticism and use it to make me better than I was the day before.”
Not only is Young appreciative of his listeners’ feedback, but he is thankful for his supporters as well.
“I am just as excited for his performance as he is,” said Bri Drew, Young’s girlfriend from Shreveport. “He has a great passion for his mu- sic, and when I first met him music was all he talked about.”
The 11-year MC said he has never performed an opening act for a celebrity, so he feels a little jittery; but as soon as he opens his mouth it’s coasting time. He raps about various subjects and feels he has something special to offer.
“I am not really the typical rapper we are accustomed to in this generation, because I rap about real-life situations and subjects that no other rappers feels is important to rap about,” said Young. “I am just ready to get out there and show the world that there can be good, clean, quality music.”
Some of Young’s music inspirations and favorite artists are 2Pac, Nas, Jadakiss, Kanye West, Com- mon, Jay Z, Rakim just to name a few.
“I have so many artists I would love to collaborate with, but just to name a few would be Nas, Erykah Badu and Bone Thugs & Harmony,” said Young.
It is a stereotype that many African American males only want to become professional rappers or athletes after high school; Young believes if that’s the African American males’ dream, then why not support them.
“It’s just a lack of support within the Black community, no one wants to see anyone shine or make it to a better situation so they are quick to shoot down a dream or a goal,” stated Young. “There are more stereotypes that are similar to this one in the Black community.
“I just think we all need to stand together, and support each other’s goals.”
During Young’s freshman year he was in a rap group named G.S.U. Slaughterhouse featuring Hiwatha Chambers (Hi), Isiah Thomas (Rambo), Kash Graham (K.Monae), and Christopher Bow- man (Bunz).
Drew said she has witnessed Young’s preparation for the con- cert, and she knows this will be a performance neither of them will forget.“This is a wonderful opportunity for him, and this year the Homecoming artists’ selections are known as veterans in the music industry,” Drew said. “So Ellis will be able to be the new era for the students to watch out for and perform a style of music that we all grew up on.”
“He gets more and more excited about the performance every day, and I know he will perform well.”
Young says juggling school and music can be difficult at times, but it is simple for him, and he always finds a way to get both jobs done.
“After classes I do my home- work and jump straight to music making, simple,” said Young. “In 10 years I see myself as a successful person, creating revenue, I would love to be a professional artist, I love rap.”
The Homecoming Concert opening act said he prays and thinks about the influences of his favorites when he is preparing for a big performance.
Young has been inspired by several artists, and he hopes to be an inspiration to others.
“Follow your passion, don’t get caught up with the wrong crowd, make your music be as free as you want and don’t let anyone change your sound for their benefit, your music is in your control,” he said.
You can find Ellis Young’s Mu- sic at Reverbnation.com/ey318 or Soundcloud.com/eymusic318.