Florida-based rapper YNW Melly makes raw, emotive rap songs about his turbulent life experiences. After he began releasing tracks during the mid-2010s, he broke through with his debut mixtape, I Am You, in 2018.
Coming from the often-dangerous streets of Gifford, Florida, the rapper began his career at a young age. Born Jamell Demons in 1999, he began uploading original songs to SoundCloud when he was just 15, cultivating a style that laced together melodically sung vocals with raw raps about violence, crime, sex, money, and the challenging environment the teen was growing up in. Demons was living the life he portrayed in his music, eventually being incarcerated for a stretch in 2017 on weapons charges for a shooting he was involved with at age 16. Once released from jail, he became more active than ever, dropping multiple singles, videos, and other projects, including tracks like "Murder on My Mind," "Catching Feelings," and the Collect Call EP. Collect Call boasted features from many better-known artists, including Lil B and John Wicks. In 2018, Melly was constantly active, dropping singles "Melly the Menace," "Virtual," and "Slang That Iron" one after another before releasing the full-length I Am You. He also made a guest appearance on the late 2018 hit "Just Woke Up" by Supreme Patty. In early 2019, Melly released We All Shine, with Kanye West making a guest appearance on the song "Mixed Personalities." In August of that year, he charted with the non-album single, "223's," which featured 9lokkNine. During this time, the rapper was also facing significant legal issues. In addition to other lesser charges, Melly was charged in February of 2019 with two counts of first degree murder in connection to the October deaths of his friends and collaborators YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser. Melly was incarcerated and awaiting trial when his debut studio album Melly Vs. Melvin was released in November of 2019. ~ Fred Thomas