I met YL the summer of 2017 and through the years seen him build a name for himself New York and worldwide with 7 albums since his first Open 24 which released February 2017 to his latest Alone Time which released during the rise of New York’s quarantine pandemic in April 2020. YL has worked along side Starker, Zoomo, Mid and Theravada of New York and Yung Morpheus and Pink Siifu of Los Angeles. I got a chance to speak with him to see what he’s been up to over the bridge in Manhattan during this time.
(S) Tell us about yourself.
(YL) I’m YL, I’m Ecuadorian, born and raised in Chelsea, Manhattan. I’m a producer, writer and engineer Living in New York.
(S) Let’s talk about influences who inspires you?
(YL) I am inspired by a lot of older music especially the golden age of hip-hop such as Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang, Madvillain, J-Dilla and Blu. I was able to piece together my own sound when I heard their music. Growing up i resonated with their work because of the human approach they took with their lyrics. They were able to tap into different pockets of life and point of view outside of the regular get money shit.
(S) I’ll start off by saying Congratulations on your recent album Alone Time, the sample on Been Gone is mad nostalgic. Did you have plans to release this in April despite quarantine?
(YL) I didn’t have a set date plan when I thought of the concept of this album but I had the title already written down in my notes and picked it before quarantine started picking up in New York. The idea of an album came to mind after 2 days of recording a bunch of shit and just felt the urge to put it out immediately during these circumstances.
(S) What is your favorite track on the album?
(YL) The last track “You Not Invited To The BBQ” produced by Brainorchestra. It encompasses the vibe of the whole album. Although every song is a piece of my personality, this one really hit home for me. When the words come to me quick I know I’m making something special and honest. I don’t have to think so much about what I’m saying. Once I got the beat I knew it was the missing piece to the album.
(S) I see that you are a current resident with NTS radio and recently featured on New York’s HOT97 late night show with listeners tuned in around the world which I can imagine hearing yourself on the radio is crazy. When did this start for you?
(YL) I was putting out mixes on my Soundcloud a couple years back after I got hip to DJ Sofie. I did my first mix for them in 2017 right before Open 24 dropped, so I’m coming up on 3 years with them.
My Hot97 feature happened after my album Smoke with Staker and DJ Skizz. My boy Mark from Topshelf Premium heard the album and sent a few tracks to Peter Rosenberg, who runs the Late night special. It’s been huge for me being that I’m from New York and been listening to Hot97 since I was a kid. It still takes time for it to settle in but I’m hype.
(S) How are you keeping busy during this time in lockdown?
(YL) I been on this inside vibe for a minute now. I have a studio in the crib and been making a lot of music. I’ve been trying to read more, maintain a balanced diet but most importantly found myself closer with my family. I kinda took that for granted before, but now I’m not able to see them all the time I’m trying harder to keep our relationship close.
(S) What does your daily routine look like?
(YL) I’m an early riser these days. I roll up, run errands, finish songs and features on my busy days but I also like to cook, watch movies, tap into new things and chill.
(S) What are your hobbies outside of making music. If any?
(YL) I like shopping. I like clothes and sneakers. I like going out with friend and being around people whether it’s getting food or going to shows. Don’t matter what we do I just like kicking it.
(S) What’s RRR who is involved?
(YL) RRR is the foundation. It stands for Real Recognize Real. It consists of myself, Mid, Zoomo and Starker with extended members who’ve become our family. RRR was already the squad name before anyone did music. But as far as the music side, it’s just us. Initially Mid founded RRR and I started off filming videos for him on my camcorder when he started rapping. Then I started rapping, met Starker a couple years later then Zoomo clicked up 2 years ago and now it’s a squad.
(S) Are you currently working on any upcoming projects?
(YL) In the immediate future I’m going to be dropping a few more singles on all streaming platforms. I currently have the limited edition vinyl for Alone Time being pressed up, but most importantly I am currently in the process on finishing up my album Jesus is My Homeboy that I started last year. It’s gonna be a real community affair just as far as all the different people I have on it that heads aren’t gonna expect. Definitely gonna be my largest body of work to date and I’m just ready for people to soak it in and live with it.
Follow to see more of YL upcoming projects on Instagram @youngwhy
Photo Credit: Derek Balazero