Hip-hop, RnB and Punk music have always sounded like different genres. Sure, there have been sonic similarities over the years, but the disciplines came from different beginnings.
In recent years, the three genres have danced closer together, with the likes of Young Thug, Yung Lean & Corbin merging core vocal elements of punk with the malady melodies of RnB and the gusto of hip-hop.
Joining this unique subset is Yahya, a Sudanese-born, US-raised artist whose music is capturing the attention of millions.
His acclaimed 4th project Days Pass has amassed over 1.2 million streams, his breathtaking music videos are growing in popularity and he’s firing out music at a crazy rate.
Yahya has just released Pieces Of Me, his third album in 2 years. It’s rife with hard-hitters, emotive explorations & new ideas.
His sound is rooted in originality, fearlessness and inventiveness, so when we got the chance to speak with Yahya, we couldn’t say no.
Tell us about becoming Yahya. What’s your story?
From a very young age I travelled a lot due to my dad‘s work. The constant change of environments caused me to be exposed to a plethora of sounds, artists and overall perspectives on life.
Once I migrated to the US, this was the first time that I had been somewhere for over three years at a time, so I was forced to acclimatise to my environment and learn to communicate within it. Music help me do that a lot.
I found artists like Kevin Gates and Chief Keef; I admired their ability to be themselves, and to stand out without fear or ridicule in a space that encourages you to be invisible and the same as everyone else. I saw myself in those artists.
As I reached the age of 15 I began to recognize the ear that I had for music, so I started a music collective alongside my classmates who are now my friends. This collective (11th street Audio Department) was my idea of birthing an artist through my vision. I knew my ear was special and my vision was even greater than that.
I went to look for artists that needed that guidance, but over time, three years passed, and I couldn’t find an artist that saw the vision that I did, so I put all the faith that I was putting in others, all the advice that I gave to others and I just found it myself.
I began my journey as the artist you see before you – it started with a plethora of mixtapes on SoundCloud until I found my own voice and began releasing on other platforms, starting that journey with a project titled “Dead My Doubts” at a time where it felt like that doubts were all I heard. I followed my heart and quieted all the noise to follow what’s true to me.
Your sound combines elements of hip-hop, punk, trap, rock & other genres. What influences led you to the sound that you create?
The journeys I’ve been able to go on from such an early age showed me that expression has no guidelines, besides being pure. I take that into my daily life and when I create music, to just follow the music of my mind and heart and find what matches it musically, allowing me to explore any sector of music.
Your 2021 release Seasons Change, Feelings Change received critical acclaim – give us an insight into the creation of this album.
The project was created at a critical point in my path, as it felt like I had everything in front of me, ready to go, but it took me getting there to realize that I needed to go back and master myself.
Even more, to become the artist that I am today a whole year later. Just like the title says, it was a time of acceptance for me that included a lot of growth and healing, and I didn’t realize how much healing I needed to do.
After I healed up, I was a new man with a better understanding of myself, what I seek, what I truly want and how I want to do it. So as the season changed, so did I, and I’m excited to continue to grow and flourish into what I know myself to be.
You recently released the powerful single HIM/ME, accompanied with a music video. Can you tell us about what this track is about, and how the brilliant video came into existence?
The song represents Rebirth and the cycles it takes to reach where you want.
Overtime, it feels like you’re repeating the same thing over and over, but if you pay attention to details, you’re changing bit by bit every time, to reach that point that you wish to reach within yourself where you can find peace, and through that peace you find everything you ever wanted .
Are there any values that you hold dear when you are making music?
Purity is key. I refuse to let myself say things or pick sounds based off of what is working somewhere else – I do me in the best way possible and that’s what it will continue to be .
You’re coming on a long road-trip with us – which 3 records are you bringing for the ride?
Moneys Man’s Secret Society project just has so many hits with huge replay value, so that would be my number 1.
I’d also bring along Luca Brasi 2 by Kevin Gates – I love the intensity of some of the tracks and it has some of the best flows I’ve heard on a project. The range is phenomenal .
And lastly for this wonderful trip, I would grab Sremmlife by Rae Sremmurd; timeless album, which you can play all the way through multiple times and experience different things.
You can listen to Yahya’s latest album, Pieces of Me, here.