Last week, Houston-based rapper Yung Pooda made his debut at this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards as he got in the booth, in the company of an array of in-the-now artists, for a special relaunch of the iconic Rap City platform. Pooda served a powerhouse freestyle showcasing his enthralled artistry as acclaim for his latest release, “Forever Tippin” continues to amass global appeal. Watch the full performance HERE.
In 2019, Yung Pooda found himself at a crossroads between the streets and the studio. After performing alongside legends such as Boosie Badazz, Slim Thug, and Z-Ro, recording with platinum icon Paul Wall, and igniting a buzz of his own throughout the country, the Houston rapper made an important pledge to himself. His pledge changed the course of everything to follow in its wake.
“In the middle of recording and getting in all kinds trouble, I promised God I would get out of the streets and just do music,” he admits. “I stuck to my word.”
Long before this vow, hip-hop called to him as a kid in Orange, TX. Pooda’s mother bumped Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” throughout the one-bedroom and one-bathroom house built by his grandfather that he and his mom shared with his grandma. As he puts it, “I used to go nuts to that song!” He used to listen to classics from OutKast, JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Master P, Ludacris, DJ Screw, and more. When Pooda visited dad, pops actually built a home studio at his spot to cook up beats and DJ. Growing up, he practiced his skills on the mic and sharpened the wordplay, developing a signature style. He sent shockwaves through the city after a successful showcase, earning endorsements from the likes of DJ Hi-Cof Houston’s 97.9 The BOX who said, “He’s always been a lyricist.” Inciting local excitement, he performed multiple tour dates with Boosie Badazz and teamed up with Paul Wall for the single “Beat Up The Block.”
Relocating to Prairie View, he moved into a two-story house with his cousin and two friends where they “were trapping and getting money, but shit got too hectic.” At this point, he reset everything. “There were fights, threats, and all types of shit,” he recalls. “I ended up saying that prayer.”
His music made its way to Jeff Aronson, CEO of It’s A 10 Records, a boutique label with a distribution deal with Empire, who immediately signed him in 2019. Now, he properly introduces his signature sound and vibes on his upcoming LP, Vivid Pictures. In 2020, Pooda made waves on Tik Tok and mix show radio with the release of his first single, “Repeat Dat” which was produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning duo Cool & Dre [JAY-Z, Beyoncé, Nas] along with a reflective song, “Lies Told”- his thoughtful response to social unrest and police brutality. This year, his critically acclaimed newest single, “Chicken N Grits” is bringing him to the forefront. C&G has earned over 30 million Tik Tok views, was the #4 “Most Added” song at urban radio and is in rotation at BET Jams, Revolt and YO! MTV Raps.
The title track “Vivid Pictures” places cinematic verses in between soulful samples and is at the heart of Pooda’s approach to music and life. “There’s a deep meaning,” he explains. “I aspire to be an artist and more than a rapper. I’m inspired by Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci. When I listen to a beat in my head, I’m putting art together. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Everything is clear. Each song gives you a visual like a movie. That’s Vivid Pictures to me. It’s the frequency I want to be on.”
In the end, Pooda fulfills every promise and leaves his mark on the culture in the process. “When you listen to me, I want you to feel enlightened and great,” he leaves off. “I hope you relate to the emotion and know you’re not alone. I’m young enough to make mistakes and old enough to know better. I’m telling my story. I’m human.”