Yung Icey Beats’ constant evolution has allowed him to breakthrough numerous lanes within the entertainment industry and it feels like he’s only just beginning with immense potential.
Photography by William Foster
The 22-year-old received his Bachelors in Mass Communication with a focus in Sports and Entertainment Management from the University of South Carolina this past May, all while working as a Producer and Artist Manager behind some of the most promising young talent today.
After days of rain and rescheduled meetings, we finally caught up with South Carolina’s Yung Icey in Harlem. The block he’s staying on while in town was full of life after a drowsy week, with kids nearly running me over while playing outside, neighbors BBQing near their stoops and washing cars.
Yung Icey’s refreshing and welcoming vibe matched that of the day’s, “I do hugs” he says in an understated Southern accent when I was introduced to him and went in for a handshake. I arrived in the midst of a debate between living in Los Angeles versus New York City. “I get a lot of work done in Atlanta, L.A. and New York. I’ve been here for 2 weeks this month already but the only thing about moving here is not hopping in your whip whenever and pulling up anywhere. I don’t know, man” he tells Photographer/Manager Will.
The Rock Hill, SC born and raised graduate is ready for the next chapter in his life and considering a move very soon, “A lot of my time has been school and managing artists and I just want to buckle down and get back into producing more and still managing a couple of artists. I look at life like boards, there’s really nothing left for me in South Carolina. I beat that board and it’s time to expand and play different games and levels now but I’m always going to be good in my city” he explains in a humble, not boastful, tone from a place of love.
By the time Icey was in the 10th grade, he was already seeing some success from producing. He produced the song “When I’m Bored” by Yung Simmie and it landed a spot on MTV Jams and a feature from Shy Glizzy. The teenage beat-maker didn’t realize the magnitude of what he was on to at the time. He was just having fun with it all and throwing parties with his friends.
His ear and confidence in music began developing at an early age and it appears that they never stopped. “I have family from the islands — Trinidad, Tobago, and Barbados so music has always been prominent in my life. My grandfather even has his own group that makes all types of music, like Reggae, it’s really in my blood you feel me? I have a big cousin who is like a big brother to me and he would always freestyle really well and I never could really rap but I wanted to do something in music. One day I told him I was trying to make beats, he told me that I could actually do it and to download FL Studio on the computer. I was 15 or 16 years old. The rest was history, I fell in love with it.”
Before he worked to save and purchase his own laptop, he would use the family computer whenever it was his turn and make beats. He didn’t see anything special about his early work but he’d play new beats for his best friend during freshman year of high school who would encourage him to keep going and helped boost his confidence.
Born Isaiah Devoe, he began going by the name Icey in high school after drawing inspiration from one of his favorite rappers at the time, Gucci Mane. Once he started producing, he landed on Yung Icey Beats for a more appealing stage name and even etched his tag on his leg.
Now with confidence in his skills, a fitting name and a few local rappers on his beats, Icey was determined to hustle for placements. “I was on Twitter really early and I was in tune with South Florida because I used to go down there a lot. So when I would see artists like Yung Simmie and Denzel Curry tweet out for beats, I’d send them some” he explains.
Soon after, Yung Icey began traveling to Atlanta to work with a promising young rapper. “I knew [Yung] Bans through mutual friends telling me how hard he was. This was before the success, when he was younger and couldn’t really leave the house like that. We would pull up on him in the A, stay a couple of days, kick it, and just make music. He had a little studio set up in his closet.”
That studio is where Bans recorded one of his breakout records, “Right Through You”. The young artist may not have seen the potential in the record because he handed it over to Icey and allowed him to release the song himself. Before they knew it, it began to take off, becoming Icey’s first major release of his own and currently sitting at 4.7M plays on Icey’s SoundCloud and 2.2M on YouTube.
“I can’t leak the sauce but it’s actually a common sample that’s been used before. It’s just the way I freaked it, you feel me. I like digging for sounds for hours and I love making my own beats -- a lot of people collab and use loops but that takes the fun out of it for me. It’s like, at that point are you even really a creative? I really love music itself and that’s my inspiration, just figuring out the art and science behind it because it’s really more technical than people think”.
As much as Icey has grown to love and understand the ins and outs of producing, he’s continuously growing behind the business as well. After signing a deal that wasn’t ideal and since parting ways with them on good terms, Icey took time to learn the workings of the business on a deeper level, and pay it forward by helping artists avoid similar situations and treating them how he wanted to be treated.
“I was naturally finding artists with potential, producing for them, and they were going up. At some point I was picking artists up, taking them to studios, linking them with people and resources, all without managing them. I just figured managing was something I was naturally good at, so why not turn it into a business so that we can all make money the right way. It’s been very rewarding to help people reach their goals and be able to change their lives. I’ve seen artists’ lives change in a couple of weeks, months or year” he says.
It’s clear that Yung Icey Beat’s legacy will reach far beyond producing. He’s a sponge in every business room that he enters these days, focused on building long term relationships and mentors. “I consider my mentors anyone in the business that I’m around — CEOs of company’s that work with my artists, I stay in touch with them and I have a lot of close homies who are successful A&Rs as well that I look to for mentorship” says Icey. With school out of the way today, he’s focused on producing but always has his sights on the long term goals of being in an executive position at a label amongst many other things.
“Now that school is over, I’m back ready to flood the streets. Got a lot of music on the way, more vlogs on the way, starting to DJ, and all types of stuff. It’s about to be a hot summer! I’m putting on for my state, my people, my team, and I'm just really trying to be outside!” he says with a huge grin that rarely leaves his face throughout the conversation.