One aspiring rapper talks making music in the Midwest, pushing boundaries and dropping the hottest mixtape of 2016
Words by Molly Lamoureux and Sarah Mattes
Videos and photo by Lauren Baker and Brooke Haesemeyer
Austin Andrews died seven years ago. The then high-schooler left behind his small-town persona during a pickup game of basketball. It was shirts vs. skins. Andrews was a skin. His chest was so pale a few of the neighborhood kids started yelling at him, “Damn, you pastey!” And in that moment of clarity, Andrews realized his true identity. It was directly tied to his whiter-than-Wonder-Bread skin, his semi-satirical rhymes about women, sex and Star Wars, and his dream of being a hip-hop star. He wasn’t just a kid from Davenport, Iowa, anymore. He was Young Pastey—and he never looked back.
Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top, but so is Pastey. The Rucka Rucka Ali-like persona is full time, not a character he puts on during the day and takes off at night. “I’m my own entity. Young Pastey. I mean,” he said while lifting up his shirt. “Look at this white body. C’mon.”
But Young Pastey—self-promoting, self-aggrandizing, misogynistic, damn-near myopic—is no prodigy. He’s a kid with a dream, lyrics that would light up a YouPorn forum and a flow that hints at what he could do if he aimed for something more high-minded than the gutter. Combined, the 21-year-old has started to build a fledgling rap identity for himself in eastern Iowa, and his career is running on off-color inventiveness, daydreams and small Davenport crowds.
“There’s definitely a Midwest vibe [to my music], but East Coast, Midwest, South, West Coast, you can vibe to my music,” Pastey said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from.”
This only holds true as long as you like tracks about booty (“I Love That Ass”), sex (“Hit that $hit”), the inability to have sex (“Whiskey Dick”) or the sheer power of being Pastey (all of the above). “Boy, I don’t mess around. I’m the whitest rapper in this motherfuckin’ town,” he said of “The Dirty D,” his slow-jam ode to Davenport. Some songs sound like he’s providing a play-by-play for a porno. Others are dedicated to his favorite herbal remedy. Pastey said he’s just pandering to what his crowd wants.
“The main target is young, white males, honestly,” Pastey said. “That’s who I see at my shows. But everyone [can listen] to my music. Parental advisory, of course.”
And that’s the real thing about Pastey: Not everyone can relate to his lyrics—but anyone can relate to his dedication.
“Every day you gotta pursue your goal,” Pastey said. Example: When he briefly attended Grand View University in Des Moines, he sparked his own cult following. Malcolm Smith, a student at Grand View, observed the newfound fandom.
“I hung out with him [during orientation] weekend,” Smith said. “And he wore a tie-dye t-shirt that said ‘YOUNG PASTEY’ on it, and he gave his mixtapes to everyone.”
Smith said their entire dorm floor dubbed themselves “The Young Pasteys” in honor of Pastey’s contagious spirit and charisma. “He’s got the personality of a star,” Smith said.
Now a business student at Western Illinois University, all Pastey has to do is translate that personality into reality. And he works it. Between giving away free albums and freestyling to acoustic guitars at college parties, Pastey is making appearances all over the Quad Cities and the surrounding areas. He’ll rap for free on occasion, just to spread the love and put himself out there. “Even if it’s just a little bit, every day you gotta take a step forward,” Pastey said.
While some Davenport locals recognize the rapper on the street, many people still don’t know who Young Pastey is. In an effort to boost name recognition and brand, he has an elevator pitch ready: “I’ll lift up my shirt, show them [my] SoundCloud, and they’ll be blown away.”
Unsuspecting visitors to Davenport might see a radiating white glow from afar on their trip—and now they’ll know it’s Pastey lifting up his shirt, spreading the word and chasing his dreams.