There are two prominent prefixes that describe a rapper who is trying to exude youth. “Lil” has become one favorite, but that is followed closely by “Young.” Moreover, there are also a few rappers who have positioned the word “young” elsewhere in their names — NBA YoungBoy, for instance.
The range of rappers with “Young” emblazoned into their monikers has become quite eclectic. From the cloud rap of Sweden, to the trenches of Memphis, to the gutter of East New York and the roots of trap music in Atlanta, the youthful title can be found everywhere. This list has assembled the most prominent names in the game containing the iconic prefix.
1. Young Jeezy
This has to be the first name you think of. He has, since getting older, shortened his name to just Jeezy, but once you start with “Young,” it’s hard to not think of you as that forever.
The last project from Jeezy before he shortened his name was the 2011 album, TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition. The LP felt like a youthful grind mode transition to the grown man in full effect. He still had quintessential Young Jeezy songs like “SupaFreak” and “Lose My Mind” on the offering, but he also showed a shift in standout tracks like “Trapped” and “Leave You Alone.” That said, the push and pull between youthful stunting and composed maturity is on full display throughout the rap star’s catalog.
2. Young Thug
The YSL head honcho has been in the game since he was 19. Since then, he has crafted as compelling a discography as any artist who debuted in the 2010s. Thug is the ultimate chameleon in the rap pantheon, adapting his vocals to differing soundscapes.
Thug has had a steady progression from young upstart to OG as he has crafted his own label. He has brought many protégės with him as he has built up his stature — none more prominent than Gunna, who has continued to soar up the charts.
3. Young Dolph
The most prominent “Young” rapper to ever come from Memphis arrives here on this list. Many may not realize that his government name was actually Adolph, so the dolphin connotation wasn’t really attached to the origins of his rap name.
During his epic career, he became the poster child for independence. His Paper Route Empire label solidified his growing generational wealth as he could always tap back into his core fanbase for support. Tragically, Young Dolph was killed in November 2021.
4. NBA YoungBoy
This is the first entry with the “Young” part of the name not in the front. This industry-shifting recluse has completely flipped the rap game on its head, putting out music nonstop while striking gold enough times within his mass releases to just keep dropping everything he makes.
Even though he became limited due to house arrest, that didn’t slow the rapper down whatsoever. YoungBoy’s prominence in the ears of the youth seems to be forever growing and cementing itself.
5. Yung Lean
The only European rapper on this list seems to always be growing in his mystique. A true product of the end of the blog era and the beginning of the SoundCloud era, Yung Lean remains a bit of an enigma.
Appearing on tracks with FKA twigs, Skrillex and Travis Scott are just some of the epic results of this cloud rap aficionado’s influence. The most jarring realization about his impact is that he was featured as a background vocalist for two tracks on Frank Ocean’s 2016 opus Blonde.
6. Young M.A
Young M.A has one of the most interesting usages of the word in her rapper name. The moniker stands for “Young Me Always,” which has very different meanings with or without the “Young.”
If the Young is just a classic prefix, this could mean that her name is a reminder of the purity of self. However, if it is all interconnected, this could mean something relating to her inner child or staying forever youthful. M.A always has a playful element that exists in her music, even within, at times, gripping adult dissections of her trauma.
7. Blac Youngsta
The second name that uses “Young” in a different position lands here on this list. Blac Youngsta began dropping music at 22 after a yearlong prison bid, which inspired him to attempt to form a new path in his life. He got signed off of his initial buzz — to Yo Gotti’s CMG label — and went on an epic run of albums and mixtapes.
Some of Youngsta’s most exciting music has been in collaboration with his fellow Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo. The two play off each other’s bombastic styles as they both contain complimentary levels of punch, bravado and substance.
8. Young Buck
This member of the legendary G-Unit continues to have a lingering presence in rap. With a name that sounds like what young kids are called when they are about to be given advice, Young Buck has one of the most naturally comical monikers on this list.
Other than his presence on G-Unit compilation albums, the shining moment for this Nashville-bred emcee in his solo career was his smash 2004 single “Shorty Wanna Ride.” He perfectly synced his Southern flair with the gutter quality of the Northeast that was derived from his G-Unit affiliation.
9. Young Dro
While this Atlanta rapper has had a solid career, some consider him a one-hit wonder. Arriving at just the right time amidst the Hip Hop dance song era, his track “Shoulder Lean” feat. T.I. skyrocketed up the charts and even earned him a BET Mobile Hot Ring Award.
Young Dro’s music was just as easily affiliated with the ringtone. If you were in middle school in the early 2000s when people were first starting to get cell phones, chances are you heard someone’s ring with his song in class.
10. Young Scooter
While Young Scooter has garnered some acclaim on his own, his most impactful moments in music have been in collaboration with Gucci Mane and his childhood friend Future. That said, he did have a big solo moment with his mixtape Street Lottery in 2013.
Scooter will always be an Atlanta-certified artist due to his involvement in big projects from the city. His feature verse on “Oooooh,” Future’s opener to his mixtape Beast Mode, marked a significant moment within one of the greatest mixtape runs of all time. Scooter was even the only feature on the follow-up Beast Mode 2.
This marks the only group on the list and is yet another Atlanta staple. J-Bo and Sean Paul represent the transition in Atlanta from the semi-melodic-fused rap sound introduced by the Dungeon Family and OutKast to the intensity of the Crunk movement.
There are three songs that hold the most significance in their catalog. The first two, which came on their debut 1999 album, represent the tail-end of the first Atlanta surge in “U-Way” and “85.” However, their most recognizable hit came in the form of “D**n!” featuring Lil Jon, which gave the initiation for one of Jon’s signature ad-libs.
12. Young Chop
While he is also a rapper, this name on the list belongs to a production pioneer in Chicago drill. The entirety of that movement would not have had the impact it did without Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa,” which were both orchestrated by Young Chop.
His name fits well with his role as a producer because of the idea of chopping samples; however, this wasn’t necessarily Young Chop’s forte. Instead, he leaned into hard-hitting original beats that made you want to start a riot.
13. Young MC
Many would refer to this as the OG “Young” rapper. Young MC’s style, however, did not mimic any of the “Young” rappers that would come after him. His classic song “Bust A Move” represented a distinct type of dance rap that aligned with other artists like MC Hammer.
Many don’t know that Young MC was actually born in London but moved to Queens, New York at 8 years old. It’s interesting to think about whether or not the world would have ever gotten such an era-defining single in “Bust A Move” if he had never crossed the Atlantic.
14. Young Chris
This Philadelphia emcee actually got his start as a part of a group with another “Young” name, Young Gunz. The duo was also a part of JAY-Z’s State Property. Young Gunz were known for their legendary hit single “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.”
Chris as a solo artist has had many ups and downs in popularity. Many fans recognize him most from his feature on one of Meek Mill’s breakout hits “House Party.” You could hear any party attendee yelling out his verse at any function in 2011.