All his brother had to do was hand him the mic at the age of 8 years old and Arkansas’s own captivating, engaging, and outspoken hip-hop artist, YB, was born. YB is no stranger to the iTunes Christian & Gospel charts as he continues to deliver dynamic and passionate records about life, growth, and God’s plans.
Today, YB releases his official music video for his final installment, “Fire Emoji VII”, of his 2020 release, Fire Emoji the Finale.
BTS: Introduce yourself to the readers.
YB: My name is YB. I’m a father of two baby girls, husband to my lovely wife. I grew up without a father. I come from a family of eight, so I have seven siblings right down the middle — four boys, four girls.
BTS: What made you want to become an artist and what has your journey been like?
YB: Not having a father figure, of course, my older brothers were like superheroes to me. I have one favorite brother and growing up he loved music as well, if not more than me. He would just be in the mirror rehearsing lyrics, passionate. And I would see him do that over and over every day as I’m getting ready for school.
He would have all of his friends over at our house, in his room, and they had the microphone with the boombox, with the cord going in. They would pass that around and they would freestyle, and you know, I’m just sitting there googly-eyed. Amongst maybe 19 guys, he stops and he’s like, “Yo, let my little brother rap.” And I remember my stomach sinking looking at all of these older guys.
When I got the mic, the only thing I told myself is “don’t stop”. That feeling I got of conquering that fear in the midst of that crowd, I was like, “I like that”. I was eight years old.
BTS: How would you describe your song to someone who’s never listened to you before?
YB: I would describe my sound in colors — a light, hot yellow in a neon-ish blue. Something so vibrant that when you see it, that might not be a color you see every day, but when you do see it, you engage with it.
BTS: Who are some of your inspirations for your music?
YB: When I was a kid, Ludacris was everything — he’s loud and vibrant, but his character is captivating.
As soon as I would get out of school, I would stand in front of my radio and play Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. That aggression, the passion, I would skip all the cuss words, but every word that he said I was hanging on and I would stand in front of that radio until I could recite the whole thing back.
As I got older, I saw somebody like 50 Cent who signed a record deal and became an enterprise with vitaminwater and his own clothing line and then, that lead me to loving and admiring Nipsey Hussle.
BTS: You just released your new music video for your single, “Fire Emoji VII”. What was your vision for this music video? What is the message you are hoping to deliver with the single and the drop of the visual?
YB: The overall visual I knew I wanted to be quality. A lot of times we shoot videos in-house, which is quality, but “Fire Emoji” was my first biggest hit. That song helped me do way more than I could have ever imagined. It was because of my supporters pressing play and going to the gym and telling their teammates. When it came to “Fire Emoji VII”, I said, “How can we close this chapter?” — I give them this.
With that video, I took it to another level. I’m really big on being grateful for my supporters, so when this song came out, this was OUR moment.
BTS: Tell me about the journey and story of your 2020 release, Fire Emoji the Finale.
YB: So, my wife doesn’t really like rap like that. As I’m working on the album that “Fire Emoji” belongs to, God Still Has Soldiers 2, I initially had “Heaven Came Down” as the opening track. I was like, “These are my thoughts. What do you think?”
She was like, “Babe, play “Fire Emoji” again.” — She said that’s the opening track to the album. Let everything else follow. I could have never told you that was going to be our breakout single.
Each “Fire Emoji” I stop where I am in real time and I give them a time capsule of where I’m at, what we’re going through, what emotions I’m working through, and where I’m trying to take things. It’s been kind of like a little chapter of where YB’s at.
BTS: How do you connect with your listeners?
YB: I’m very relational and I try to capitalize on unorthodox opportunities. I’m going to learn everybody’s middle names, figure out what song they found me on, and when I go back on tour, where should I go?
I saw those opportunities of doing a Zoom. All of those little moments of COVID helped me really take the relationships with my community to a whole other level. I’m always in my DM’s.
A lot of my supporters, I know their full name and their handle — you know, we got this relational equity. I just think being accessible to where it makes sense.
BTS: What’s something readers should know about you?
YB: I’m here to help raise all tides. I’m trying to grow sonically to push my sound. I’m also trying to create opportunities for other independent artists. I’m trying to force a change, not only for myself, but for artists behind me, the artists in front of me. I feel like the tide is changing for independent artists and if you’re aware of what’s happening, we have a unique opportunity.
BTS: What does the rest of 2021 look like for you?
YB: I want to play an intense game of chess. Last year, by the grace of God, we had a phenomenal 2020 for my music. For me, I’m focusing on trying to bring the right producers in to challenge my sound, figure out where are some new videographers in L.A. and New York, and partner with certain publicists so that I can position myself.
Now, my releases are a bit more potent and with a little bit more reach. That’s what my 2021 looks like. Trying to keep the excellence at a high.