Young Curt, an influential Pittsburg rapper-producer who helped shape the Bay Area music scene with “This Beat Hit,” “She So Bad” and other late-2000s regional anthems, died Monday, June 29, in a vehicle collision. According to authorities, Young Curt, whose real name is Curtis Denton Jr., was speeding south on the Byron Highway in Eastern Contra Costa County when he lost control of his car, causing it to flip over several times. The 27-year-old died on his way to an Antioch hospital in the early hours of the morning.
Known for danceable, high-energy tracks emblematic of the Bay Area’s hyphy movement, Young Curt had an unsung influence on West Coast rap. In the years after the release of his best-known mixtape, 2009’s This Shit Don’t Stop Vol. 1, fans drew comparisons between him and Los Angeles acts that became popular in the years that followed, including DJ Mustard, YG, Tyga and Blueface. Unlike the aforementioned artists, Young Curt, who got his first break in music when he was 16, never signed to a major label and his music never charted on Billboard.
Young Curt was poised for a second act of his career, his manager Bilal Rahimi tells KQED. After years of being ignored by the mainstream, the artist’s luck turned around when Tyga gave him publishing rights to his 2019 song “Bop,” which resembled Young Curt’s “It’s the Mobb,” released a decade prior.
Rahimi says the deal caught the attention of San Francisco distribution label EMPIRE. EMPIRE was set to release Young Curt’s new album later this year, which Rahimi now hopes to put out posthumously. Young Curt’s career was taking off in other ways as well: a song of his had gone viral on TikTok, and he had finalized paperwork to enter the cannabis business with his own marijuana strain.
“Tyga shouted us out, gave us credit where it was due and finally connected the dots. His royalties went up,” says Rahimi. “Everything’s been going really good since then. We were on the way to exploding right now; we were on the way to giving him what he deserved.”