2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

Posted: April 11, 2013 in Press

UMKC Conservatory student Kerwin Young joined the hip-hop group Public Enemy in 1989. On April 18, Young and the rest of the group will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

UMKC Conservatory student Kerwin Young joined the hip-hop group Public Enemy in 1989. On April 18, Young and the rest of the group will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Graduate Student at UMKC Conservatory is a Member of Acclaimed Hip-Hop Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2013
Contact: Kristin Pitts
(816) 235-6678; pittsk@umkc.edu

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When Kerwin Young became a producer for a small hip-hop group in 1989, he figured their politically aware, hard-hitting lyrics would, at best, become popular in the group’s Long Island, NY neighborhood. Today, after more than two decades of worldwide fame, the University of Missouri-Kansas City student smiles at his miscalculation.

That small hip-hop group was Public Enemy. On April 18, Young and the rest of the group will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Young is currently working on a Master of Music degree from UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Conservatory last year.

In its biography of Public Enemy, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame credits the group with bringing an “explosion of sonic invention, rhyming virtuosity and social awareness to hip-hop in the 1980s and 1990s.” It also labels 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and 1990’s Fear of a Black Planet “among the greatest politically charged albums of all time.”

Of course, the political, consciousness-raising songs weren’t universally accepted. For Young, that’s what makes the induction even more incredible.

“Going from receiving death threats to then being accepted and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just amazing,” Young said.

Young started as an apprentice with Public Enemy when he was 17. By 1989, he was a more formal part of the group – part of the production team known as the Bomb Squad.  Over the years, Young has done everything from composing to mixing Public Enemy’s “rap-metal” sound.

But it isn’t just about the music. Young believes that nurturing and encouraging younger artists has been as much a part of Public Enemy’s legacy as their consciousness-raising lyrics.

“There are a lot of people who came up through the group and learned, and we’ve made them aware of their rights as artists,” Young said.

Although the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction will celebrate Young’s work with Public Enemy, his accomplishments are much more wide-ranging. Young has written music for “Sister Act 2,” “Street Fighter,” and “He Got Game,” and has music in the TV shows “Girlfriends” and “Flavor of Love 2.”

More recently, Young has honed his craft at UMKC, where he studies composition. He has had work read by the Kansas City Symphony and is a composer-in-residence with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble.

“I have never seen anyone work so hard, so consistently and graciously as Kerwin. From the get-go, he was incredibly focused and hard working,” Paul Rudy, professor with the UMKC Conservatory, said.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City
The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2013. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit www.umkc.edu. You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us onYouTube.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).

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Comments
  1. Ken L says:

    Congrats Kerwin! Fellow alum of UMKC! We’d like to feature you soon in KC’s TWELVE Magazine http://twelvekc.com and other KC movements. When you have a chance, shoot your preferred email for followup! Much continued success! Thanks KL