Everything from the name down to his rhyme style is completely different from any rap artist out right now. He doesn’t Shmoney Dance, he’s no Bobby Shmurda.
He defines himself as “Hip-Pop,” and at about 5 feet 5 inches, this blonde-haired, blue-eyed star is YAK Boy Fresh.
He’s been on tour with Chanel West Coast, Kirko Bangz, Twista, Bun B, Chevy Woods and fellow St. Louis native Nelly for the past year. And the 22-year-old father of one’s debut album, Welcome To My Rehab, already features a track with hip-hop icon Krayzie Bone titled “Scraping The Sky.”
GlobalGrind had the opportunity to sit down with the rapper and talk about everything from dream collaborations, to his pre-show rituals and his feelings about the protests in his hometown of St. Louis.
GlobalGrind: What’s the meaning behind the name?
YAK Boy Fresh: I been doing this since I was nine. I met Ali from the St. Lunatics, and I was just ripping a D-Nice Verse. I started rapping for him and he was like, ‘Yo, you a star,’ and from there, I just been going hard doing what I do. I was doing shows and going by J Fresh.
And you know there are a 100 million rappers named J Fresh on YouTube. Me and everybody back in North County [St. Louis] would say, “You Already Know” so that’s what YAK stands for. Everybody called me fresh my whole life, so one day I just ran with it.
Besides the legends (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) you’re currently collaborating with on your first project, who else do you look forward to working with?
I’d love to work with Dr. Dre. Being an independent artist…how I see it is you need a machine behind you. Dre is a powerhouse, everything he touches turns into gold; just give me 24 hours with that dude. I’d want to do something that’s been untouched. I wanna do like what Nelly did with KoKo Bridges and Tim McGraw. I have that sound. I wanna keep it urban, but I wanna keep it pop. I’m Hip-Pop.
When Miley Cyrus came out with all that ratchet sh-t I said dude, I gotta work with her. I’m young and I’m ratchet. If I get on a record with her, us being two hip, young white people…Dope sh-t.
What’s the most ratchet/crazy thing you’ve done recently?
Right after we got off the tour, we just went buck. I blacked out on top of the tour bus and I was just laying there…but besides that, it’s just too much to list. The tour bus is like a frat house.
At nine years old, having Ali from the St. Lunatics say you’re a star must’ve been crazy. How did that inspire you?
It made me realize that people can turn dreams into reality. I remember when he said to me at that age, ‘You can be the next white Bow Wow.’ That just gave me so much confidence, and my pops definitely encouraged me. Ali skipped his meeting and told Nelly he wanted to make me the next Bow Wow. Ever since then, I’ve put everything else aside and wanted to do this. That right there gave me so much goddamn motivation, it gave me all the confidence to do it.
Where does this confidence come from?
I’ve been doing it for a minute. I’ve got so much love for people that do this, so many people hate on it. It’s real out here. I got a little shorty back out at the crib, so I gotta come out here and make it some real sh-t. No beating around the bush, no sugar-coating sh-t, so people can see it for themselves live in action.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m always working.
Your music has a lot of old school hip-hop references, your style, even your flow is very old school. How do you feel you can connect to a younger audience? Because half the people in our generation won’t catch half the references you’ve made in your song “I Am Hip-Pop.” How can you bridge that gap?
My fan base is gonna be a range. My posters will be on your daughter’s bedroom walls. I’m diverse.
So your diversity will be key to your longevity?
Damn, right. It depends on how you play it. If you’re in a dance mood, you go to different genres. If you want to hear something like “We Dem Boyz” or old school, you’re gonna go to YAK Boy Fresh, we’re gonna have all those categories into one. Just gotta play it all right. The record me and Krazy did is definitely Top 40 potential real feel good music, it shows I’m not just another white rapper.
You’ve opened for Kirko Bangz and Chanel West Coast. What was that like? Bring me back to that moment before your first live show. What was that feeling like?
Crazy. We were in St. Louis. We have a whole band and everything and we sold like 150-200 tickets to every show we opened for. We saw how they responded to us and how they respond to them. We were in stadiums, not some hole in the wall…So when I [actually] saw it, that’s when it all got really real.
Were you nervous?
Not really, because I lived my life like it was on stage for my whole life. I always like to keep a bit of nerves though, because that’s what keeps you great. You can’t get too comfortable, if you get comfortable, you get boring, you get lazy. I tell everybody, when I’m comfortable, I get uncomfortable.
Do you have any pre-show rituals yet?
I always drink one beer and two rum and Cokes. You got two dollar wales? F*ck it. Someone asked me, ‘Why do you drink rum and Coke?’ I said I don’t know, I don’t even like it, but I’ve always done rum and Coke and one Bud Light.
When’s the album coming out?
We’ve been trying for the middle of the summer, but we’ve been touring. It’s done, It’s called Welcome To My Rehab. It’s ready to go out, just a little more mixing and re-mastering to do. I don’t have an exact date for when it’s to be out, but I want to say December. So when I go overseas in Jan., I have it ready.
How do you write?
I engineer all my sh*t. I used to go into the booth with my phone. If you listen to some people, you can tell they’re reading that sh-t so when I’m engineering, I don’t even like going to these Hollywood ass studios. I like sitting in my basement and I go line by line, I know one word I’m gonna say and I just flow to it. Whatever comes out comes out, I stop and go back into it. That’s my favorite part of writing, you can always go back to it and it’s real. I’m not looking at no damn pen and paper trying to read.
Making the music or performing, which do you prefer?
Performing I get that high. A lot of time I gotta watch footage just to remember most of it. When I touch the microphone it’s like poof, my mind goes.
Is it the same like Beyonce’s alter ego Sasha Fierce? Once she steps on the stage she doesn’t remember anything.
It’s just like that.
Do you name your alter ego?
How do you feel about what’s going on in St. Louis right now?
That’s my neighborhood. Ferguson is about the next neighborhood over from me. I feel what they’re doing down there right now. You’ve got to make a stand somehow somewhere. What happened to that man Mike Brown happens all the time out there.
Where do you see yourself in about five years?
Around the world. I ain’t going home. That’s where I set the bar at and that’s where I’m keeping it.
Look out for more music from YAK Boy Fresh, and watch the interview with his mentor Krayzie Bone on the No Judgment Zone right here on GlobalGrind.
PHOTO SOURCE: Instagram