Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Legacy”?
Legacy to me is who I am, who I’ve been, and who I continue to become. I’m just that dude that is able to somehow put dope verses on mainstream music without losing the integrity of the artform of rap and lyricism. I think a lot of times people feel like to be on mainstream beats they have to change the aggressiveness or the wittiness of their lyrics, and that’s never the case.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Having my daughter Riley. I’ve always wanted to leave a legacy behind through my art, but having her is now really pushing me to increase the drive behind the music and the business, and to secure all bags.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes! The video for legacy is actually premiering June 12th!
The single comes off your new album About Time – what’s the story behind the title?
It’s my time. And its been a long time coming so it’s about (damn) time. I’ve put a lot of work into building my own fan base from the ground up, and marketing myself as the next independent artist to break, and eventually all movements have a tipping point. I believe this album is the beginning of that tipping point.
How was the recording and writing process?
A lot of fun actually. For a while music started to feel like a job. Staying on schedule, recording “just to stay relevant,” but on this album, I began to remember that feeling when I first started out. I was more selective with the production, I had a lot of fun, and that in the end is what matters. People feel that when they hear the end product.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?
It all depends. Sometimes people I collaborate with need a little nudge in a certain direction for them to fill in their part. Sometimes all I have to do is send them the idea and they know exactly where to take it. I try to just adapt to whatever my collaborator needs to bring the best out of them and to bring the best out of the music.
Having found massive success – does that put any pressure on you when releasing a new material or is rather the opposite?
It does. But only because I’m competitive with myself. I don’t really feel pressure from any of my team or any of the fans, they love to just have new music and they know I give my 100%. But I’m always looking to out-do myself with the music, with the response I get from the audience, and with the numbers behind the music. We live in a world of streams now, and that to a degree is a metric of success. So I’m always looking to outdo myself, and it’s fun to push for that when the target is millions of streams. It means I’m doing something right.
What role does East-Harlem play in your writing?
East Harlem is where I went to school half my school life (I was born and raised in the South Bronx). When I was growing up, Harlem had the crown when it came to music. The Bad Boy movement was heavy in Harlem and it was the music that broke out of NYC and made it all around the world. I would see Biggie, Ma$e, Puff, etc. hanging out in the projects across the street from my school (shout out to central park east!) and just seeing the streets go crazy for them, and seeing the crowds that formed around them, showed me the impact hip hop has on the world.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Everywhere. I learned early hip hop and storytelling is literally everywhere. It’s the single mom on the bus sitting next to you. It’s the store clerk ringing you up. It’s the homeless guy on the corner and how he ended up there. It’s the ex girlfriends in your life and the fantasy future women in your life. It’s the rags and the riches. It’s everything. You just need to use the paint properly to convey the overall picture.
Any plans to hit the road?
I just came back from an overseas tour, my first one! I plan on going right back, once this album is out. It’s been a while since I toured the states so I’ll definitely be looking to get back out there in 2018 (Stay tuned!)
What else is happening next in Yonas’ world?
Just a lot more music, a lot more video content, and a lot more YONAS. I think I’ve done a great job pushing my music, not it’s time to bring it 360 and give them the full experience. My life, My art, my ups, my downs. It’s gonna be a whole lot of YONAS in the next 2 years.