ST. LOUIS – Coming off two appearances on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in recent years, local artist REACEYUNG now celebrates becoming a voting member for the Grammys, an event he says had him “overwhelmed with joy.”

Photo by Freddy Mac

REACEYUNG, born Brandon Baker, is a local artist from north St. Louis. He grew up in a world where music was present at every turn.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, REACEYUNG’s family owned a record store called Downtown Music, a sanctuary that would inspire the start of his music career. YUNG first became interested in the music of the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Big Pun when he was a young child, and he later had the chance to see a variety of different artists, which ultimately fueled his desire to live that eccentric lifestyle.

“That automatically drew me to want to be a hip-hop artist,” YUNG said. “From that point forward, seeing Dr. Dre sign the Chronic albums in St. Louis at our store, man, I just say I had to. I needed a piece of that. I wanted to be that.”

YUNG has been creating music since 1999 and began taking it more seriously in the early 2000s. He described his music as the “cultural drive of St. Louis,” music that is positive, allows him to stay true to himself, and that will lead children in the right direction. While people often shared criticism with him about his style, REACEYUNG made sure to stay true to himself and his music.

LIST: These St. Louis-area Fourth of July events are postponed due to weather

“My style is being more accepted, but my style has been the same since the early 2000s. I’ve just gotten older and my style has just gotten better and richer. But people didn’t know,” YUNG says. “It wasn’t always easy, but hey, I stayed in the fight and I’m still here to this day.”

Now at the age of 36, REACEYUNG is now living in a full-circle moment. He has seen two of his projects, “Unlucky Me” and “Derrty Joe,” appear on the Billboard Heatseekers chart for new music over the years and has recently been invited to become a voting member for the Recording Academy, the organization responsible for the Grammys.

“When I hit the billboards twice back-to-back, I was like, Alright, I was really happy about that. And then I just also realized, OK, I can’t stop here. Gotta keep going,” YUNG said. “My initial reaction to the Grammys was that I was just overwhelmed with joy. I was extremely happy… It takes a lot of hard work to stay dedicated and see graduate growth throughout the years.”

Although REACEYUNG has gained the respect and recognition of his peers, he continues to embrace St. Louis. One of his goals is to change the negative stigma associated with the city among people from other cities.

“Taking care of my family—that’s changing the landscape of hip-hop music in St. Louis. That’s my biggest goal. You know, I just want to change the landscape of how people respect us, how people see us, how people treat us.”

REACEYUNG will continue to use his resources to bring more music and positivity to the St. Louis area. YUNG releases his new album, “Heart of the Lou 2,” on July 21, which he says will be a classic for the city.