Ruben Small once had a crew on the streets of Portland who would walk around with their dogs and this is where his stage name, Young Dog, had its origins.
While Ruben knew he wanted to pursue rap as a career option, he wasn’t sure how exactly to go about achieving this goal.
Nonetheless, he worked hard, listening to rappers like DMX who, like Ruben, had an interest in dogs.
He also started listening to Dave East, an American rapper from Harlem.
Determined to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper, Ruben dropped out of Mondale High in Grade 9 and went on to study music production at Cape Audio College in Observatory in 2003.
“I did not want to attend school because my mind was not there. I could not focus on anything else other than my music,” he said.
“When someone has a dream, they don’t focus on one thing, they focus on too many things. I focused on conquering one thing which was music.
“When I was in church I played the flute at the time and so my love for music came about.”
When Ruben was five years old, he had visited Namibia with his family, and it was to Namibia that he returned in 2005 to record his first track, Thou shalt not kill.
“The track Thou shalt not kill was influenced by what’s happening in Mitchell’s Plain.
“Even today we are experiencing it so much more now, the murdering, the shooting, innocent lives suffering.
“I want to take Mitchell’s Plain to the next level. I really want to represent Mitchell’s Plain, everywhere I go,” he said.
He will also be shooting a video in Mitchell’s Plain for the track.
Ruben said his family and friends have supported him through his efforts to make a career in the music industry.
Because many musicians have to work “day job” until their music careers take off, when Ruben is not producing tracks, he works as a sales assistant at a store in Cape Town city centre.
And his colleagues recognise his passion for music.
Pumeza Madikane told the Plainsman Ruben had been “hustling for a long time, likes his music and works hard”.
Damian Opperman added: “I admire what he does. It shows that he love what he does and is very passionate about his rapping. He works hard, is independent and many people love him for what he does.”
Another colleague, Mariam Plaatjie said: “He is passionate about his music as he writes about his life, where he comes from and what’s happening around him. He is also a family man and really loves his son.”
Ruben agreed – family comes first. “I am there for my son, he will always be my first priority in everything I do,” he said.
“Everything I do is for my son Jordan, I will be performing at his school just to show him not to get caught in the wrong things, that one can follow their dreams and be successful in it, no matter how small their beginnings.”
Ruben launched his first EP (extended play record), called My First Story, on Saturday July 28 at the Joburg Bar in Cape Town
His next mixtape will be released in November and will be called Get at me dog.
For more about Ruben you can check out his Youtube channel, Youngdog Entertainment.