Shufutinsky, who raps by the name of YoungGravy, prides himself on “taking the technical art of performing music and incorporating political elements into something powerful.” After performing an acapella-version of his politically-charged song ‘Nation’ to his Musical Cultures of Black Americans class last semester, he was energized by the positive feedback he received. 'Nation' was written as a response to the violence in Charlottesville, "where the leader of the United States, who is supposed to take a stand against un-American, Nazi ideals, failed to stand against the hatred," he explained.
“Noah is incredibly talented and I was surprised at how confident he is for a freshman,” said sophomore Christine Jiha after having watched Shufutinsky perform. “I’d love to watch him again.”
“Since I was born, up until I was 16, my dad was in the navy. Every 3 years, we’d have to relocate, go to different schools, move across the country, and I think that really has shaped the person I am today,” said Shufutinsky. “I heard a lot of different music from my experience of moving around, but San Diego, California has been the place that shaped me the most.”
“A really important message for me to share in my music is the disconnect between politicians and veterans. Veterans come home to a place that is not the same as they could expect, and it’s hard to not have the support of the government, like when it shuts down,” he added. “It is something that needs to be talked about more.”
Taking inspiration from music legends such as Dr. Dre, Tupac, and 50 Cent, Shufutinsky said that “there isn’t a person that exists that embodies all that I want to be. Dr. Dre, from a music aspect, is very serious about his craft. Tupac, who was very much a political figure for the minority community as a whole, represented marginalized people, while Logic is very true to himself and is able to share it with the world.” To this day, he only has the support of his family and growing fanbase-- no manager or production team.
“In 10th grade, I was listening to a song and I was like ‘man, I could do this,’ so I started writing lyrics. I got a cheap microphone from Target and it helped me get my start. I got into producing my own beats so I could make original music and start spreading it through different channels,” explained Shufutinsky.
Music is in his blood. His Jewish, Russian, paternal grandfather was also a lively performer in the chenson genre. Ultimately, his grandfather was forced to defect Russia due to rising anti-semitism and move around Europe’s refugee camps until settling in Brooklyn, New York in 1981. On his mother’s side, his grandparents were forced to leave Mississippi and seek refugee in San Bernardino in the 1950s due to violent anti-black racism.
“Growing up Black and Jewish, I’ve had to deal with anti-black racism and anti-semitism since before I was four years old. There is always a double standard and I have to work twice as hard to do what someone who is white and non-Jewish could achieve without that worry,” said Shufutinsky. “My mom would play a lot of empowering music like “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown to try and make me understand that there will be these obstacles in my life but I have to overcome them.”
A lot of the music-related obstacles Noah has faced happened during his upbringing in Philadelphia. There, schoolkids, friends, and “haters” as he likes to call them, said he’d never be good enough. “It has continued with some online hate but I don’t take it to heart,” shared Noah. “There’s always this stigma of just being another Soundcloud rapper.” While working hard to promote himself, he has learned that performing in front of audiences has proven he is worth listening to.
YoungGravy’s future seems to only be getting brighter. During the weekend of February 17, he will be doing a meet and greet in San Diego, while filming parts of his new music video. Impressively, he is awaiting confirmation for a festival slot in March, and is excited to do video shooting in Northern California over spring break.
Majoring in International affairs and considering a minor in Spanish, Shufutinsky says music will never interfere with his studies here at GW because education is his priority. He is also interested in learning more about music groups on campus.
Music by YoungGravy can be found on his Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/young-gravy-1) and website (https://younggravy.com/).