Undergraduate Rap Star
As Yung Gravy, Matthew Hauri ’17 conquered the music world while still a UW marketing major.
Some UW students miss class when they travel for marching band or athletics. Matthew Hauri ’17, a.k.a. rapper Yung Gravy, missed class because he was jetting off for negotiations with major music labels.
Hauri notched the absences in fall 2017, when he was generating buzz with his debut single, “Mr. Clean,” and its exuberant video, filmed in Madison. He wears a fluffy white bathrobe and sways to a sample of the Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman.” He washes a car with bikini-clad women and rides a Sea-Doo in Lake Mendota as the UW campus gleams in the background. “Mr. Clean” has received more than 60 million YouTube views to date and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Missing class paid off. That November Hauri signed with the Universal Music Group imprint Republic Records, home to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Post Malone. He graduated the following month with a degree in marketing. “It was a pretty crazy last semester,” he says.
Since then he has toured extensively and released a string of singles and EPs, as well as three albums: Sensational, Baby Gravy 2, and Gasanova. He has collaborated with hip-hip icons including T-Pain and Lil Baby. His releases include another solo platinum single, and one with Canadian rapper bbno$, “Whip a Tesla,” went gold.
A native of Rochester, Minnesota, Hauri splits time between Los Angeles and the Gopher State. He started making music in his sophomore year of college, inspired by rappers like the late Gustav Åhr, who as Lil Peep found success distributing his music online. Hauri first recorded beats and rhymes on his own, and later he collaborated with producers he encountered on the online distribution platform SoundCloud. A freestyle rap about gravy led to his stage name, which he styled after the Swedish rapper Yung Lean.
Hauri says his UW education has served him and his music well. “A lot of the business and marketing stuff has really stuck with me and helped me,” he says. “I’ve always been very particular with imagery and branding.”
Few musicians graduate college with a major-label contract in hand. Was Hauri tempted to leave the UW early and pursue his career? “I wanted to say I did it,” he says of finishing school. “But I also knew my mom would want me to.”
Published in the Summer 2022 issue