Brooklyn, East New York is home to 21-year-old emcee Yalo. Yalo isn’t your typical 21st century artist: instead, he’s considered an old soul who draws most of his inspiration from the raw sounds of 90’s Hip-Hop (he grew up listening to artists/groups like Kool G Rap, Heltah Skeltah, D-Block and Roc-A-Fella. His journey began at the age of 14, writing rhymes in his notebook during class. From there, he began performing at school talent shows and local events, further fostering his love for music.
Sticking true to his roots, Yalo released “I Love Brooklyn” earlier this year, considering it “His escape.” He used a collection of 90’s beats from some legendary Brooklyn rappers to send a message about the poverty, drugs and gang violence that plagues his neighborhood.
Lucky for me, I was able to interview the rising artist, which you can check out below. It’s safe to say that Yalo is ready to bring back that raw tone the game has been missing!
RESPECT.: What would you consider your top tracks?
Yalo: One of my top tracks is “Broken Language.” That was a cover I chose to do, paying homage to Smoothe and Trigga. I felt it was only right to show that love to those who’ve paved the way. I received a lot of love after releasing the video. I actually ran into Smoothe down in Soho a while back & we talked. He was really impressed with the whole idea of my mixtape.
I knew he felt honored to see a young nigga like me show love to the 90’s Hip Hop era, because the majority of young rap artists don’t.
RESPECT.: What is your latest single and what does it mean to you?
Yalo: My latest single I just dropped is called “For a Night” produced by Kelly Portis Productions. I threw my guy Hu$tle on the feature. I felt like his energy was needed. He’s some smooth nigga when it comes to the ladies and I knew he had something to say. I recently just got out of a 3-year relationship and since then I’ve been hanging out, getting my mingle on. Shortly after the break up I had met this girl who was able to relate to my situation. We both weren’t interested in dating, we were just looking to chill.
One night we got a chance to hang and ended up having sex. After that night it seemed like all the stress from arguing and fighting over the past 3 years didn’t bother me anymore. It was a relief. I felt free. I wasn’t anticipating on breaking up with my ex though, things just weren’t working out.
RESPECT.: Can you tell us the creative process behind I Love Brooklyn (ILB)?
Yo for ILB it took me a long ass time to get that mixtape done. Around the time I started working on it I was in high school and I ain’t think this rap shit was for me yet, just 4 years of procrastinating. Once I graduated tho, I got right back into it.
The beats I chose for ILB are from popular 90’s Brooklyn classics. Again I was just paying homage to the greats. However you still gotta give credit, to where credit is due. Shoutout to all the greats, you got Lord Finesse, DR Period, Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrence, True Master, Timbaland, Fizzy Womack and one of my favorites Irv Gotti. I actually got another single on the way produced by Rubirosa, one of the hottest producers coming up in the game. He got some shit for y’all.
RESPECT.: What has been your biggest struggle thus far, how did you overcome it?
Yalo: So far I can say one of my biggest struggles that turned into an accomplishment for me, has been networking and consistently releasing music. I wasn’t too comfortable popping out to parties and engaging with people. I wasn’t shy or anything, I just wasn’t used to it. Now it’s like every event going on around the city, I always make sure I’m present. Even if it’s out of state and I can make it, then I’m there. Simple things like starting a conversation will take you far, you’ll never know who you’ll meet. And with releasing music consistently, people start paying more attention. They see your work ethic and they’re impressed, especially when you got quality music as your backbone. These were just two out of a few short goals I’ve set for myself, and I’m more ambitious than I’ve ever been.
RESPECT.: Tell me about what drives you when it comes to music?
Yalo: What I love about music, is that its the perfect medicine. It’s so much that you can go through in life, that you may not be able to converse with others about and music is a way for me to get things off my chest. Whether you’re just releasing that stress or telling your story, you might be telling someone else’s story. That motivates me, to get someone through their day or even get their day started. I mean that’s just another goal for me, touch lives and leave an impact. Even with all this hype shit playing on the regular, I feel that’s needed. We aren’t always feeling down, sometimes we need it to turn up or even to build momentum.
God has a plan for me. He’s brung me this far and I refuse to give up. My future is real bright and in 5 years I see myself being a light, a voice, a role model, a helping hand to those in need.
RESPECT.: Shout outs?
Yalo: I wanna shout out God first, my family, the whole team, 4 Block Gang, all my bros and sis. Y’all know who y’all are and how much y’all mean to me!
RESPECT.: What’s next?
Yalo: What’s next for me is a variety of great things. I’m working on another project. I’m getting involved behind the scenes with theatre, TV and film. I’ll be releasing a few more singles soon and some dope new videos. Just pay attention. It’s so much on the way, I promise y’all.