Interview: Star2 | The Young Folks

Asian-American rapper Star2 recently unveiled his brand-new single/music video, “Run Away,” featuring HoodTrophy Bino.

Born in a Thai refugee camp, cast off as a baby by his mother and father, Star2 moved to San Diego with his grandmother as a child. While growing up in SoCal, Star2 found solace in music, resulting in him becoming a role model for other underrepresented groups in music.

Since releasing his 2020 debut single, “Hollup Gurl,” which has 300,000 streams on Spotify, he has demonstrated his innate talent for crafting captivating music, as well as evolving his sound. This growth is highlighted in “GO!”  

The video depicts Star2 and Bino jelly-rolling through Venice Beach in low-riders, followed by appearing at a skate park, where they perform as skaters whiz around them. Their flow, vibrant and contagious, imbues the lyrics with heady energy.

“Watch me do my walk / Watch me step on my ops.”

The Young Folks spoke with Star2 to discover more about the inspiration for “GO!,” how the two rappers connected, and how he got started in music.

What three things can’t you live without?

Music, nature, and friends.

What inspired your new single/music video “GO!?”

I wanted to make a summer single that you could bump at the beach or at a bbq. We made an extreme sports song perfect for skaters and really any extreme athlete or dope dancer.

Who directed the video and where was it shot?

Chico Bennett directed, and Hector Toro shot the video.  The video is in Venice Beach, California – an important skating community and very much part of the West Coast vibe.

How and when did you first connect with HoodTrophy Bino?

I filmed a feature with Soulja Boy for my single “New Me.”  We had a dope video shoot at a mansion in Tarzana with hella pretty models and Lambos and a Rolls Royce SUV. Bino is part of Soulja’s crew and is signed to his label: Stacks On Deck Money Gang (SODMG). We met at the shoot and decided to do a studio session together.  GO! was the result of the session.

How did you get started in music?

As a young kid, I loved Justin Bieber and sang his songs non-stop.  I lived with an uncle who played guitar and sang and also heard music my whole life at festivals and church.  My culture, Ka-ren from Burma, is very musical.  We use traditional instruments, drums, and also piano and electric guitar.  I did traditional dance when I was really young.

A friend in our apartment complex had a home studio and we imitated rappers we loved.  We made songs and music videos that we posted on YouTube.  At first, it was for fun, but it became a way for me to express pain and emotion – to cope with a lot I was going through and that my family was going through.

Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?

Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Akon, Tyga, The Young Money Crew.  Later, Juice Wrld, Polo G, and Post Malone.  Also, Bruno Mars for ballads.

If you had to explain your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?

Lately, I have described my sound as ‘melodic rap.’  I am versatile.  I sing, rap, make break-up songs, love songs, and songs about the hood.  I don’t like to put myself in one category.  I have been listening to country and Reggaeton as well as classic rock.

Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?

It evolved from romantic heartbreak to conscious rap about the f’d up state of the world to dance music and now I’m definitely in a rap phase with $tupid Young, MB Nel, and Mozzy.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

I am inspired by what I feel and what I’m going through.  It could be very personal or it could be a reaction to what’s going on in the world.

What can you share about your writing process?

Sometimes I wake up with a tune in my head and sing it into my phone.  Other times I write verses.  Sometimes a beat really connects, and the songs come really fast.  I don’t have a set formula.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

Lil Poppa is a favorite, Kid Laroi, Jack Harlow.  I also f wit Thai and Ka-ren artists:  Tae Tae, Pu Dah, Ler Mu Dex, 1 MILL, YOUNGOHM. 

How do you define success?

Success is being able to do what I love…to make music, record it, and perform it.  Success is also making money so I can support myself with music.  Ultimately, success is having a happy life and surrounding myself with good people. Hiking, enjoying nature, and fishing.  I love fishing!  I also love to cook.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?

I am working hard!  I have an EP dropping at the end of January.  The first single was GO! with HoodTrophy Bino, next is “New Me” with Soulja and Luh Kel.  Then, “Up” with Mozzy, $tupid Young, and Bino.  After that EP, I have another with $tupid Young with six songs and features with Lil Poppa and MB Nel.  Later, a project with Luh Kel.  We just finished a mini tour together on the West Coast and will start again with colleges on the East Coast and Canada.

I’m trying to play at Rolling Loud in Thailand!  I want to spend a few months there – I want to go back to my refugee camp where I was born and help the kids.  There are talented rappers in the camp that I want to make music with. I also want to build a studio there that they can use.

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