It’s never easy to be a “defiant” one especially within a culture that is constantly met with oppressive obstacles that can either slow you down or literally kill (your dreams). You have to always be grounded… firm in who you are & what you stand for… Rebellious & Magical. How the hell do you think YS got to this level? Young Stilo, full name Clive Mphasi, is a young man that has firmly built the foundation he currently strives on. From his early days in Hillbrow to currently stamping his name across the globe, this photography & distinctive creative has created the perfect spell for defining the odds… So in celebration of Nike’s Air Max BW 30th anniversary, I spoke to the sought-after lensman to find out about things I was genuinely interested in finding out through this story I’ve titled YOUNG STILO’s MAGIC that was visually interpreted by Aart Verrips.
My first impressions of YS have always been ones filled with curiosity as I would frequently bump into him at “cultural” events or popular hanging spot etc. And each time he would either be working through his camera or observing through a camera (eagle focused), seemingly studying the game I would assume. Always genuine through our engagements, sooner or later I found myself liking the boy not only because of his good energy but because of the results of the work I had witness him execute which would quickly spread all over social media and the press. His art was undeniably fire and viscously cool at the same time. Transcendent sh*t. A cultural icon in the making dare I prophecy…
“My journey hasn’t been the easiest one, they were times when I felt like giving up, but I always believed to trust in the processes and kept pushing… I’m excited to see everything finally coming together but at the same time I know that this is only the beginning for me.”
Having watched his growth for some time now, I kind of was in awe that I had never interviewed him before but that’s now obviously a corrected error… Below YS and I touch on a variety of topics such as his definition of self-expression, his biggest highlight so far, difference between Clive & YS and more.
Being creative, especially as a young black child, has never been the easiest road to walk on. I remember my family never understood what the hell I was doing at first… How did your family perceive what you were doing? Were they understanding?
At first, they didn’t take this seriously and it was hard to convince them. They didn’t understand why I always came home late or why I was always away from home. The idea of getting paid through pictures didn’t make sense to them and at some point, they thought I was part of a gang. I was only able to convince them after I put my first pay cheque on the table, and they’ve been understanding and supporting me ever since.
Clive can also be seen as Young Stilo’s guardian angel – YS
I do what I do to break boundaries and show people that nothing is impossible – YS
You’ve mentioned many times how the love for photography & ultimately design, began in high school for you. Was this career the only thing you dreamt about back then or do you have other ideas that people might not know about?
In the beginning I’ve always wanted to be a soccer player and a designer but my love for photography came along, and I’ve never looked back.
How different is Young Stilo from Clive Mphasi? I imagine those two personas as different energies…
Some people may say that Young Stilo is the total opposite of Clive Mphasi, yes, they’re somehow different but they are still me. Young Stilo is loud, expressive and out there. Whereas Clive is quieter, laid back and is more into protecting his energy. Clive can also be seen as Young Stilo’s guardian angel.
What’s your definition of self-expression?
Self-expression is how a person experience their feelings and their personality through different things. My self-expression can be seen in how I dress, the chains on my neck and the rings I wear. A person can also tell how I feel from my pictures and style of editing.
It’s quite obvious that you take heavy inspirations from hip hop but besides hip hop culture, where else does YS draw inspiration from? Surprise me…
I draw inspiration from different cultures, characters and even places. The bike culture influences all my leather outfits and most of my tracksuit outfits are influenced by the grim culture in the UK. Through my pictures and edits people get to see these different characters that inspire me.
You know the higher one climbs up this cultural ladder in terms of success, it gets quite easy to come across egos and all that bad sh*t. Have you ever had dark or bad moments happen to you along the way within our culture? Talk to me…
Yes, I’ve had bad moments, the culture is filled with people who always underestimate those that are up coming. I’ve had people bring me down, speak bad about me and were always judgmental towards my craft. I had to figure it out by myself because our culture has too many pretenders and empty promises.
You’ve already achieved and been exposed to so much over the years but what would you say has been your biggest career highlight thus far?
My biggest career highlight is definitely being able to travel outside South Africa. This has allowed me to meet and collaborate with other creatives around Africa, it has broadened my level of thinking and I get to draw inspiration from every country I’ve travelled to.
I draw inspiration from different cultures, characters and even places -YS
While we were shooting you briefly told me about some future plans you’ve which mentioned exhibitions, higher art, etc. How big is Young Stilo dreaming right now?
The dream is becoming bigger, I have a lot that I want to change and show to the world. Everything is written and planned, it’s just a matter of time the world sees the greatness I have in store for them
Why do you actually do what you do? Does your brand start & end with you or has there always been a generational plan?
I do what I do to break boundaries and show people that nothing is impossible. My brand doesn’t not end with me, I want to leave a legacy that will live to inspire future creatives and stand as evidence that anything is possible.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten that you still hold close to your heart?
“Never stop dreaming.
Never give up.
Never stop trying
And never stop learning
Nothing is impossible” -YS
If you were to bump into your high school self today, what would you say to that kid?
Move at your once pace be patient Trust the process, enjoy the journey, it will be worth it in the end