Yung Simmie
Words by Mike Wood

“The rap game is really saturated, there’s just too much. That’s why I try to stay rare. You wanna set yourself aside and be known as ‘nigga this is what I am’." That’s how 20-year-old Floridian rapper Andrew Thomas a.k.a Yung Simmie see’s the current state of the rap game, and who can really argue? With the Internet allowing aspiring rappers to post their music online and share to a potential audience of millions globally, it’s clear to see how separating the strong from the weak is a long and often tiresome task.

Perhaps this is a bit of a backhanded statement, given that Simmie owes a lot to the Internet. Whilst plugging his music online, the young emcee came across fellow Sunshine State dweller Spaceghost Purrp, which lead to him carving out his own path as part of the formidable Raider Klan. “I met SGP on whilst promoting my music on Facebook and then I properly met him in person through Denzel Curry cos we’re from the same hood,” he explains. “Curry was the first Raider, ever, and he asked me, ‘You wanna be Raider Klan?’ Then I showed Purrp my music, he liked it and that’s where it all started."

With five mixtapes released in just over two years, Simmie’s work rate is incredibly high, although the young Floridian doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “I’m definitely never lacking, I wouldn’t say I’m the hardest working because I do like to chill and learn more and I’m not always stressing myself,” he states. Whilst he’s modest about how hard he works, he admits his work ethic is a trait that he picked up from another notoriously hard working rapper from the South. “I was really influenced by Lil Wayne because of his work ethic” he reveals. “When I was a kid, I used to always see Lil Wayne everywhere, all over my TV and that made me want to be at that kind of level."
With Weezy’s grind firmly set in the back of his mind, there are other elements of Southern music that are strongly imbedded into his tracks. The trilled out drumbeats and heavy basslines set the tone for the young emcee to spit over, but he doesn’t stick to any rules when it comes to creating music. “It’s gotta just have that aura, that Yung Simmie aura, you feel me?” he explains. “What I’m trying to do is bring an original sound that people can just respect, and hopefully I’m doing that right now."

Everything could’ve all been so different if he’d followed his other talents, where word has it, he was a talented athlete in High School. “Aw hell yeah I can play football” boasts Simmie. “My grades weren’t that good in high school so my mom wanted me to get them right. I ended up writing on the bus home from school, and I used to be home a lot so I hooked my microphone up and just started rapping until my mom pulled up in the driveway and I had to unscramble all the chords and stuff the mic back in my room and act like nothing was happening." The habit eventually took over as his main passion, which lead to him choosing his music over a promising football career. He offers “I got used to doing it, so as soon as they were out the door I was already walking out my room with the microphone. I’d rather rap than go to practice."

Like many youngsters, rapping and football kept his mind and body active and away from trouble. To many, Florida, conjures up thoughts of theme parks, alligators and all you can eat buffets, but what lies beneath that happy-go-lucky façade is something much darker, and is something rarely documented on the news. As Simmie points out: “You gotta survive cos Florida is the bottom. You’ve got the nice side like South Beach, then you’ve got where I’m from Opa Locka, which is the hood and people die every day over here."

This picture Yung Simmie paints is more akin to the streets of Chicago, where the Chiraq movement has documented the The Windy City’s escalating gang culture. “I feel like if I had a camera to follow me everywhere, it’d be a movie. That whole Chicago scene, they just documented everything. That’s one thing that I don’t have,” says Simmie. “We’re probably going harder than them, because I feel like their music is more ignorant; it’s for no reason. They’re killing each other with their music. If you bring those cameras down here, you’re gonna see people making music for different reasons.” Simmie’s reasons for doing music may come as a surprise to most, as he passionately reveals; “I wanna touch people with my music. I want to show people that anything is possible, that you can chase dreams, I want to be that motivation for people."

With an incredibly healthy catalogue of music that includes underground classic tapes such as two volumes of ‘Basement Musik’, as well as his latest project ‘Shut Up And Vibe 2’, younger artists are beginning to look up to him for advice. “I’d just say man, open your mind, don’t limit yourself. Just go hard and do it cos you love doing it. If you’re not getting recognised, don’t stop doing it, keep going, cos even when I was getting 200 views a month, I kept doing it and that’s when people fuck with you,” he pauses before revealing his most enlightening and digestible piece of advice. “Nobody gave me the recipe, I had cook it myself and taste it myself. If it was bad, then you make it over until you get it right.”
Yung Simmie