Tess Hart/Photographer

Country Club Plaza welcomes AY-MusiK

Rapper brings positive, refreshing music to streets of Kansas City.

By Tess Hart | July 28, 2013

Tags: Kansas City Music


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A street performer who can attract 200-300 people with each performance while only playing positive music is almost unheard of, but rapper and hip-hop artist Aaron Young and his performance group, AY-MusiK, have become accustomed to it.

Young considers himself a solo artist, but likes to perform in a group, which consists of members singer Hailey Cox, keyboardist Ralph Jackson, trumpet player Avery Smith and drummer Daniel Cole. The group has played and will continue to play in Kansas City's Country Club Plaza every Friday and Saturday this summer to raise money for Young’s first professional music project.

“I think what separates me from other hip-hop rappers — and other artists in general — is that it’s more about being a team to me,” Young says. “It takes a team to achieve a dream and a goal. Honestly, my show is not a show without people. The fans literally are the show. Some rappers will never give up their mic to allow other people to be a part of the show, and that’s all we do.”

When watching the group perform, a fan will often see an 80-year-old woman on one side of the group and a young child on the other. A wide variety of people are always gathered around AY-MusiK to support their movement toward positive, powerful and uplifting music.

“It’s become like a family,” Smith says. “The best part of the show is the family aspect and everyone coming together. It’s like eating dinner at home because it brings people together in that way.”

Although Young has taken to performing along the sidewalk, in the future he hopes to take his positive and powerful message to a national level. He is often compared to B.o.B., Asher Roth and Kid Cudi, and even performed on "The X Factor" last year.

“I, right now, personally love the sidewalk, because it is extremely hard to get into a venue,” Young says. “I’m not going to rap about something just to get into a specific venue. I’m not going to compromise who I am. You can’t stop me from a street corner. I think we are creating supporters, not just fans — people that have connections with what we’re doing.”

Young’s first single, "Say Hey," is all about telling his story and saying "hey” to the world.

“I used to be homeschooled, and I was a little bit of a nerd,” Young says of the inspiration behind his single. “Growing up, I was just like, say 'hey' to who you are. Even through music I was just like, I’m going to write like I want to write, and I’m not going to worry about what everybody else is doing. I’m just going to be myself and say 'hey.'”

Young and the whole AY-MusiK group hope to hit the road and perform for University of Missouri students as soon as possible to help spread their music and their movement to other parts of the country. Young even says that Columbia is “like a second home” to him.

“Columbia is a melting pot,” Young says. “Everybody is connected. If we did have a university like MU have us perform or have us open up for somebody, that would put us on the map for all these other colleges. I know that it would be good, and I know that people would want us back. It could potentially start our career.”

All four core members of the group also hope to somehow make music a part of their own professions, but currently are in full support of Young’s dream.

“Right now, it’s Aaron’s project that is taking the front seat," Smith says. "As I see it, if I really want to make it as an artist, there is no better place to start than here because there’s momentum. It’s all just at the perfect point right now.”

Young truly believes that he has found a way to craft positive music into a form that is easily accessible and that everybody can grasp. He can’t wait to get the opportunity to share it with anyone who will listen.

“He’s very charismatic when he’s out performing,” Cole says. “He’s able to captivate and grab people’s attention pretty consistently as well. He’s a good performer and just needs the opportunity to share his movement with people.”

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