This year’s Queens Youth Music Festival was presented by Prototype Music on July 21, at Citi Field in Queens, New York.
The one-day festival was hosted by YouTuber Nathan Triska and Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel). The event included musical performances from young artists throughout the borough of Queens. There were also vendors who participated in giveaways and service opportunities.
We caught up with Jaleel White and singer/songwriter Longe to ask about their influence over the youth and their reason behind participating in the festivities.
The Knockturnal: Talk about why you decided to participate in this festival.
Longe: “A bunch of my followers were commenting on their post requesting me to perform, so Queens Youth Music Festival reached out to me and I checked it out and I thought it was the coolest thing because there’s not a lot of events where a bunch of youth artists can come together and perform. So I think it’s the coolest thing. There’s a lack of that festival vibe for my age artists but there’s so many of us.”
The Knockurnal: What’s one thing you would tell your younger self?
Jaleel White: “Listen to your gut. God gives kids amazing instincts. When I was [younger], I used to take my basketball to school all the time because I was short and I wanted to play. I had to hit my free throws so that I could be the team captain. If I had the ball, I was definitely going to play. So I had a little strategy of how I was always going to get in the court and I was really good at picking teams. So there was always a kid out there who wasn’t a good shooter but hustled to get me rebounds… So the bottom line is: as a kid I was always a strategist, but I listened to my gut better as a kid than I did as an adult. When you become an adult, politics are going to come into your life and it’s going to change your instincts. Get back to those instincts. Keep company that supports your dreams. Don’t let people come to you and tell you things or blame you for things that in your gut you know are not your fault. So protect your gut. God gives you voice, you just have to hear it. But the older you get, that voice just gets duller and duller because of power games and politics that adults are going to play. So I love talking to a kid and saying, your gut will never lie to you.”
The Knockturnal: On influence and social media…
Longe: “I did a school tour where I was performing at middle schools. That was earlier this year. I had so many people reach out to me about bullying. You sometimes forget what actually goes on, but it is one of the biggest problems that I can emphasize. So many people reached out to me about their problems with bullying because that was what I was touring about at those middle schools. It breaks my heart to hear those stories but also the fact that they can connect with my music and really find a happy place and a good place to step away from their problems, step away from their troubles. It’s almost like they have me to talk to in their hard times because we connected through social media. Keeping that connection with followers is so, so important because they really need it.”
The Knockturnal: What advice would you give children who want to be in show business?
Jaleel White: “I don’t think there’s show business anymore. I really don’t. One of the most powerful people in the rap game resides in Toronto. And you can disagree if you want to but I see him up close and personal and he’s the most powerful person in the rap game. And because of technology, any access you have, you create your own fan base. That wasn’t the case back in the day. There was a lot of things that were done differently than from 2000-2010. So I just think it’s important that kids are true to themselves. I think the most important word in all of our futures is authenticity. Be authentic. I am obsessed with giving my daughter the resources that she needs to become the person that God intends her to be. If I don’t hustle to get those resources, she will fall short. So anytime I see kids, I always try to pass the message onto kids. You have 18 years to ask adults for information and resources. And even though adults may not give other adults the time of day, they will stop for you because you’re a kid.”