YP Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
While most of us need our seven-to-eight hours of shut-eye in order to tackle our daily responsibilities with max efficiency, certain individuals of the artistic stripe find that marathon periods of sleeplessness are just the thing to get the creative juices flowing – like Surrealist painter Joan Miró, who endured self-imposed periods of sleep deprivation in order to induce hallucinatory imagery. While Chicago up-and-comer (and freestyle series alum) YP presumably has to work into the wee hours of the morning in order to keep up with the competition, No Sleep certainly hasn't hampered his skills; the enthusiastic cosigns he's garnered from Booth readers, as well as such hip-hop heavyweights as Raekwon and Q-Tip, are proof. Now, the young emcee's preparing to wake up those who've been sleeping on him with a new, DJBooth.net-sponsored street album; featuring reader-approved leak "Pray for 'Em," No Sleep is set to hit our mixtape page for streaming and free download Dec. 14.
In this Booth-exclusive, seven-question interview, YP steps into the Booth to discuss his potential impact on the hip-hop world, his reactions to being cosigned by multiple hip-hop legends, and why the youth violence described in Pray for Em hits so close to home.
Is there a deeper meaning behind the title to your upcoming mixtape, No Sleep, or have you simply put in a lot of late nights making dope music?
It’s a combination of both. I definitely spent plenty late night hours recording and the initial idea of the mixtape was because of it, but as I went through the recording process it developed a deeper meaning. I was going through a lot personally and it was putting a strain on me. The ups and downs of my personal life wasn’t matching what I was trying to accomplish musically. The stress that comes from chasing this dream literally never lets me sleep.
On the recently-released Pray for Em you touch on the violence plaguing your home city of Chicago. Do you feel a particular responsibility to speak on issues effecting your community?
Of course. Growing up, I always felt that hip hop artists are like our news reporters for the hood. They let you know what’s really happening and don’t sugar coat it. It’s a wide spread epidemic that should be touched on by all individuals from CNN to smaller voices such as myself. There is no sensible reason for how many kids have been killed due to the violence that haunts us. I got nieces and nephews and it’s getting to the point where their safety is at risk just walking to school. That’s not what’s up at all. School zones shouldn’t be war zones.
How does it feel to have legendary artists, like Q-Tip and Raekwon, to say that you are “up next”? And how important is a co-sign like that in today’s game?
It’s an honor and it keeps me humble. I have older brothers who would actually school me to their music at an early age. I remember sneaking to hang with my brother and his friends while they sat there listening to Incarcerated Scarfaces. I remember my other brother being a die- hard Tribe fan. So when those cosigns came through it gave me so much motivation. I value my brother’s ears for hip hop and when artists who they grew up listening to cosign me, that serves as a refresher to what I’m trying to accomplish. In my opinion a co-sign isn’t important in today’s game but that particular co-sign is important. I say that because so many new artist are looked at as individuals who don’t honor or value the craft. Q-Tip and Raekwon are pioneers. If those who helped carve the game for what it is today say that I’m next up, that lets people know that I’m serious about being a hip hop artist.
After participating in our DjBooth.net Freestyle Series it is clear you have skills; does freestyling help you become a more lyrically innovative emcee?
Thank you for that. I think freestyling does help the lyrics get that much better. I didn’t believe it at first, partly because I’m not the best freestyler. HAHAHA. I have learned though. I have to get better at that soon man. I’m slacking.
Who is YP to hip-hop? And how will your impact be felt for years to come?
I feel as though my role in hip hop now is to serve as a connecter. I don’t like it when I hear someone who is older say that hip hop is dead or they don’t listen to any new up and coming artists due to what they hear on the mainstream. I try and change that opinion with my music. I get satisfaction when someone from the earlier era likes what I do. I feel as though they set the blueprint for newer artists like me. So to have those that don’t honor anyone new rock with my music is cool with me. My impact will be felt for years due to the emotion and relatable stories. I was too young to completely understand every one of Pac’s messages at the time, but I always felt the emotion. That’s important to me. When people argue about Pac now, you can feel how deep he touched them no matter what the subject was. I want to achieve that.
What should prospective fans and regular Booth readers expect from your upcoming album, Mirrors, that they won’t find anywhere else?
With Mirrors you can expect a deeper look into who I am and where I’m from. Mirrors serve as a reflection of yourself. I feel like no one can tell you about me and how my environment raised me like I can. So I stand to give everyone the reflection of what I've become.
Last words? Shout outs? Confessions?
My list is too extensive. HAHAHA. I want to thank EVERYONE who supports me and the movement. It’s completely organic and I love y'all for coming along for the ride. My only confession is I plan to get some sleep after No Sleep. Thanks DJBooth!!