Known for his poignant messages and vivid lyrical prowess, Christian rapper YB is on the rise to becoming a powerful voice within the faith-based music community.
Aptly dubbed by V13 as “engaging, spiritual, and optimistic,” YB has crafted his own lane in the ever-evolving sphere of Contemporary Gospel. Getting it from the ground up and being the co-founder of his own music company: Bold Records, he has become a blossoming force and is without a doubt, on the verge of becoming a household name. To honor the countless list of Black and Brown bodies that have lost their lives and have fallen victim to police brutality over the last year, YB released the uplifting anthem “The Greatest” , which has now amassed over 78K views on YouTube. Coming off of two well-received projects in 2020: “Provision” and “Fire Emoji,” which skyrocketed on the Apple Music Christian charts and Spotify respectively, the Christian MC has plans on using this momentum to propel his brand even further while spreading the good news. With his next full-length record dropping early next month: Provisions II, The Knockturnal was able to set up an exclusive interview with YB to chop it up with him about a whirlwind of stuff, which include his origins, personal life, and his mindset going into the creation of his new project plus more.
Here’s how the conversation played out:
The Knockturnal: For those who may have yet to hear YB, tell us about your origins and how you got into faith based-music?
YB: Yes! I grew up in a single-parent home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I watched my mom work and provide for my seven siblings and I. Growing up in that type of environment I always felt the turbulence of life. Music became my escape.
In my early middle school years, I watched my brother rehearse lyrics in our bedroom mirror, and like any other little brother, it was like watching my superhero. It didn’t take long before I was rehearsing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in the mirror for hours, bleeping the curse words of course (laughs)!
I did regular rap for years, but my second year into college, that’s when I felt a tug to pivot. I remember leaving Atlanta from a conference, going back to my dorm opening pro tools, and feeling like I was starting all over again. I had this newfound passion to rap about a God I barely knew anything about. That year was huge for me.
The Knockturnal: How was the creative process for your upcoming release Provision II? And If so, how does it differ from the mindset and life circumstances you had going into Provision?
YB: When we dropped Provision the whole world was still on pause. I wanted that record to help people put one foot in front of the other, myself included. I feel like Provision II embodies what happened on that journey personally. Yeah, you kept going, but what happened along the way.
I think I’ve enjoyed this creative process the most of all my releases to date. I’m becoming more critical of what it is I’m trying to articulate. While working on this record I’ve had relationships go sour, opportunities blossom, and I’ve learned to “feel” for the first time in a long time. The details of my lessons, nuances of my growth, and vivid memories of my valley moments all bleed into this new record.
The Knockturnal: What tactics have you taken to build your fan base?
YB: I’m a firm believer in the power of one. So I’m always in my DMs, checking my analytics for what’s getting the most engagement, as well as staying in motion as much as possible. I know a lot of my day one supporters by name, doing so is important to me. They help make this journey possible.
The Knockturnal: What impact has the recent nationwide violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had on your personal life?
YB: That hit home big time for me. With my wife being Vietnamese, that type of violence is definitely alarming to me.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about what was the motivation behind creating your music company, Bold Records?
YB: Yeah, well I came up during the Soulja Boy era. After watching him dominate YouTube, as a kid, you naively bought the dream that one day you’ll put a really good song out and somebody would call you and the rest would be history. Ha-ha! That’s rarely ever the case!
But, at the time, gatekeepers had everything on lock. That forced my hand to figure it out. That led to my wife and I launching what is now Bold Records. One of our driving factors for the label is that we desire what God wants and we’re not lazy! We’ll take the stairs when and if necessary. It’s been a crazy ride thus far.
The Knockturnal: Once it’s all said and done, what imprint do you hope to leave on the landscape of contemporary Gospel music?
YB: It’s my hope to show other artists to come that you can be an artist, operate in the space and still maintain integrity. Long term, I think really developing the very things social media don’t care (character, leadership, purpose) about will be key.
To learn more about YB and his upcoming developments, check out his site here.