On The Way: Yung Icey discusses his recent big placements, remaining relevant, what he thinks about loops, and his long term goals in a new interview

The so-called ‘SoundCloud’ generation set the new standard for both modern music consumption and creation, pivoting from the previously adopted model of physical distribution and digital purchasing that had to take place through third parties like iTunes and consequently led to the explosion of streaming. Hundreds upon hundreds of artists and producers attained some level of ‘clout’ or success, however objectively or subjectively you choose to look at it, but unfortunately many of these creatives were held back because of a lack of consistency or an inability out get out of their own way. As a result, it quickly became clear that staying down until you come up was the secret to success in these uncharted waters.

Sadly many realized this all too late and missed their windows of opportunity, but that is not the case with South Carolina producer Yung Icey whose “Icey I’m so sick of you” tag has become all but ubiquitous in the world of modern trap production. Icey played a major role in fostering early artistic development with a number of artists who went on to use this foundation Icey helped lay to propel their careers on even further, notably with artists like Yung Bans, NGeeYL, and D Savage, just to name a few.

From a musical standpoint, Icey’s beats are always sonically diverse, as he has quite the ear for creating spellbinding melodies that are masterfully accented by his thumping drums which often sound like they are dropped straight out of the sky. Yung Icey has been a notable name for years now in the underground world but it seems like 2020 might finally be the year he officially claims the title of ‘super-producer.’ And although he might not yet have his name on any top charts, any artist would be foolish not to seek out his production, especially early in their careers, as he has played a major role in breaking dozens of talents from the SoundCloud pantheon and beyond.

Just this year he paired up with East Atlanta rapper Baby Plug for a joint-EP entitled Icey Baby which was one of the first looks at Baby Plug we had gotten since the prior year and their effort certainly did not disappoint. Icey has a clear gift for creating sounds and textures that are perfectly suited for the artists in which he is producing for. Following this project Icey’s next major move this year was his unforgettable collaboration with LUCKI who is making the leap from SoundCloud-to-mainstream in a similar way Icey is, but my words truly can’t even describe how beautiful their track “Faith” was and would encourage you to just take a quick break from reading this and check it out if you have not heard it already. This led into LUCKI’s recent mixtape Almost There which earned a great deal of critical and cult appreciation, stemming from Icey’s initial magical first impression in the rollout. Next Icey even landed on Future’s last project, co-producing “Pray for a Key” which is easily the biggest song he is credited on to date and is looking poised to make even bigger moves in the coming months.

I recently was lucky enough to talk to Yung Icey about his recent accomplishments, future goals, and how he has remained so consistent. The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

LL: South Carolina’s music scene as a whole has come quite some way since you first started hitting the scene. How different was it when you first began producing compared to now? And do you feel like your success has helped pave the way for others?

South Carolina has been on the come up for the past 3-4 years. A lot of new producers are emerging amongst the ones who’ve already made a name for themselves. There’s also an increase in artist, with often new ones dropping music every day. The state as a whole has been bubbling making a stamp in the sound and culture of the music that we hear today which is influenced not only by South Carolina but the south in general. My success has helped open the door and pave the way for producers & artists from South Carolina. I have helped a lot of artists from here ink deals with big labels & also help curate the sound & develop popularity within the hip-hop culture in South Carolina. Overall the opportunities that I’ve had and achievements I’ve accomplished have helped shape the sound and also bring important eyes & ears to places they haven’t been before as a result of all the groundwork I’ve done over the years.

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LL: Unlike many of the other producers who came up in the first “SoundCloud” era you’ve managed to stay relevant over the years and even across sub-genres and trends. How do you manage to stay on the cutting-edge so well?

When it comes to the music, I am always developing my sound and trying different things to keep myself unique. I oftentimes create trends or take the sound that’s relevant at the moment and shape it into my own. This has allowed me to re-invent myself several times and also push & influence the sound in certain directions on my  platforms. While doing this, it makes me stay relevant because I keep people interested.

Another big factor in my success has been being able to develop great relationships over my career with people who work in the industry. My experience in artist management and producing has allowed me to grow a massive network. Often times a lot of the new artists I find and work with come from my own discovery, but it also helps to be able to be at the forefront of new talent being discovered by other labels & having the opportunity to work with them & build their sound. This allows me to work with a plethora of artists from new to already established.

LL: Your recent placement on Future’s last project was so exciting especially coming on the heels of your recent big song, “Faith,” with LUCKI. How did that song come together? Do you think you’ll get the chance to work with him more in the future?

The Future song came together through me working with TM88 of 808 Mafia. We had been working earlier this year, &  made the Pray for a Key beat. He gave the beat to Future and then it ended up getting placed on the High Off Life album. I plan on working with Future more very soon. I have been making a lot of beats for him for when we lock back in. I have also been working with his artist, Guap Tarantino as well, in the midst  working on different records with other artist within FBG.

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LL: I remember seeing that you graduated college from South Carolina last year and that’s something that not many other producers can claim. How helpful has this additional knowledge been and why was it so important to you to finish your education even though it seems like your music career has effectively taken off at this point?

The invaluable lessons I learned at U of SC helped me grow as an individual. School was very helpful in developing me in a business mind state. Often times music execs finish college and work in music after. In my situation as being a full-time student, I was also managing, signing artists & producing as well. This rigorous schedule helped me learned how to handle a lot of tasks at once while staying organized.

A lot of people frown upon going to college in the music industry because they feel like it is holding them back. This is not true, because you can finish school & still be able to fulfill your dreams. Another thing that I realized over time, is having a degree garners a different type of respect in this industry. People handle you differently when they know that you’re educated like them because a large percentage of people who work in music has a degree of some sort.

LL: Who are some other artists that you want to collaborate with in the near future? Are there any on the way you’re particularly excited about?

Some heavy-hitting artists on my list that I’d like to collaborate with in the future are Drake, Lil Baby, Da Baby, Thug, Gunna, Roddy Ricch, G Herbo, Lil Uzi Vert, & a lot more I really can’t name them all.

I have a couple of unreleased songs that are coming out, which I won’t speak on yet, but I’m very excited about.  You never know with me, I’m always working.

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LL: Loops have been a pretty hotly debated topic amongst the producer community lately. How do you feel about the use of loops? Do you feel like it takes away from the authenticity of the music-making at all?

I feel like people shouldn’t be concerned about how others are making music or money. There’s pros & cons to both using loops & making everything from scratch. But one thing that doesn’t change about the music is majority fans don’t care about how the music is made. When you see people arguing about loops, it’s oftentimes producers because producers are the only people who care about stuff like that. People listen to music to catch a vibe not to figure out if the melody is a loop or not.

I just think the debate is a constant argument that will never be resolved because at the day people are going to do what they want to. As long as you’re making timeless music & selling records, while making people happy with your art you can’t lose.

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LL: What are your long term goals in this industry? Do you want to stay on the production side forever or could you see yourself being in a more administrative role at some point?

One of my long term goals in this industry is to win a Grammy. I feel like that’s a huge accomplishment as a producer, even to be nominated for one. I also want to get more plaques, I want a single produced by me to go Platinum. I see myself producing for a while but once I get older I see myself taking a more administrative role. I have my own record label named Ice Age Records, which I’ve been building. My long term goal is to sign producers & then artists to deals and help them put out & market their music. I think the music industry model that is used right now is dated & I want to run my label the way I think things should be in the latter part of my career.

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LL: What’s next for Yung Icey?

I have a lot of big things coming soon.

I’ve been producing on a lot of artists’ upcoming projects & building up my own catalog as well, so a lot of new music will be coming out soon on all platforms. I’ve also been more involved on my YouTube, which I’ll be dropping more beat break downs and visuals soon. I can’t speak about everything, but there are a lot of big things happening for me and I can’t wait to share with my supporters for what’s to come. Be on the lookout for new content sooner than you think.