On the brink of his newest release, we sat down with Cleveland hip hop hero Y-S to discuss the stories and inspiration behind his latest tracks.
JW: Cleveland hasn’t always been known as a major hip-hop city, but it seems like that is beginning to change. Can you talk a little about how the city shaped you as an individual and an artist?
Y-S: It’s a high level of difficulty to make a name in my city. So when it comes to carving out that path, you must remain focused. So I study the whole landscape of music including the artist standpoint, engineer standpoint, marketing tips, copyrights, publishing and more. I want to be ready for any opportunity so I must be prepared for all avenues of success.
JW: Were you inspired by the mass social movements and protests of 2020? How did this charged political atmosphere affect your lyrics? I wouldn’t say inspired because I’ve dealt with social injustice in my life. To be honest it’s a part of my culture so you learn how to navigate through those tough situations. My approach to music hasn’t changed since I’ve been displaying my pain through songs for years.
JW: If you could collaborate with any artist on earth, who would it be and why?
Y-S: That’s a tough one right here. If I had to choose one then I would collaborate with H.E.R. I believe she embodies soul music. I believe my style of music taps into the pain and honesty of life. I believe we can make some good soul music.
JW: What keeps you driven to continue releasing music?
Y-S: The daily grind of the entertainment world is taxing mentally and financially. For some reason, I believe I can reach that goal I am seeking out. I want to give myself a chance to reach that marker. I hate living with regret so I have to see the plan through no matter the outcome. This is my passion.
JW: If you had to pick one word to summarize yourself as an artist, what would it be?