[INTERVIEW] Rising Hip-Hop Artist YB Talks Gospel Hip-Hop, His New Album 'Fire & Desire' and More
Rising Hip-Hop Artist YB is currenlty riding off of his single "My Shot" off his new album Fire & Desire which dropped on Oct 9th.
YB originally hails from Pine Bluff, Arkansas and is 1 of 8 children raised in a single parent home. While enrolled in college he attended the Passion Conference, an experience that changed his life forever. There, the Sarasota, Florida based artist was introduced to the word of God and quickly became involved in youth ministry. His love for the art of rap never wavered, so he decided to spread the gospel through creative lyricism. YB debuted his first album Salvation and made headlines in 2017-2018 with his album God Still Has Soldiers 2 which peaked at #20 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel charts.
His music has graced national music outlets like Hip-Hop Since 1987, Rapzilla, and Earmilk who describes him as "an artist with a critical eye and the heart required to toil over the smallest details." As good as rap artists like Lecrae and Andy Mineo, YB defies the notion that Christian rappers aren't dope. His recent visual for single, "Clark Kent" (watch below) has gained over 30K views through YouTube and his album Fire & Desire digs deeper into YB's transition into his faith, marriage, fatherhood, and growth as an artist.
Check out our exclusive interview with YB below!
Is YB an acronym for something?
I get that a lot. Ha-ha, unfortunately it's not.
Tell us about your upbringing in Arkansas as 1 of 8 children.
I love having a big family. Growing up in Arkansas was interesting for many reasons. Pine Bluff, my hometown, has its own intricacies, but having older brothers to guide me in a sense taught me a lot. I'm very observant to everything around me, so as things would unravel in the streets or through altercations, I was always taking mental notes.
What was it about the Passion Conference you attended in college that made changed your life?
Man, being surrounded by so many people who were sold out for God. My whole life, I had heard the name of God mentioned time and time again. But seeing a stadium of 60,000 worshipping God was the defining moment. In that moment, I knew God was more than a name, I knew He was real.
Tell us about your single "My Shot" and the concept of your forthcoming album Fire & Desire.
"My Shot" is the anthem for the people who love the process. I believe our generation is full of the next greats, but it's crucial that we embrace the process that comes with attempting to do something great. "My Shot" is just a glimpse into the album.
Fire & Desire is that message, "embracing the entire process" in its totality. I want people to understand that no matter if they are in the valley or on the mountaintop, God is still good.
What do you want to say to people who don't take Christian rappers seriously?
Keep watching. Ha-ha, I believe God is really up to something big regarding CHH. Not for us as artists, but to continue to make much of Jesus. It won't be long before what God has done and is doing take center stage.
What's your creation process like?
It's definitely changed over time. I used to be really crunched for time for writing or the creative process in general. But, in regards to this album, this was the first time, I was able to legit wake up, handle my husband and father duties and head straight to the studio. I think I was more of a steward of time than I was an artist. The art and songs were already there, I was very intentional with the windows of time I had to really focus and drill in on the music. So, that's what we did.
What do you think the state of Christian hip-hop music is like right now?
I feel like we are in a bubbling state, like in many aspects, things are picking up. Of course, we're not getting everything right, but, there are artists that are reaching people in their own unique way and pointing them to Jesus. In that case, they have my vote. I'm not trying to keep score, I'm just grateful I get to play the game, so I'm making sure I'm going in for the King.
How has working in radio helped your music career?
It taught me to not take no for an answer. When I was in radio, I was selling ads, so walking into a business and trying to get them to understand the value of advertising was a legit challenge. My first "no" wrecked me, but as time went on, the "no" made me sharpen my approach.
What has the touring experience been like for you as an indie artist touring throughout the Southeast and Southwest (booking process, fans, etc).
I love touring. It's one thing to make a song and release it, it's a whole new world to play it live and connect with your supporters. Early on in my journey, I made a conscious decision to really partner with people and serve their needs. That's been my formula since 2014 and by God's grace we've been rolling since. The hardest part about touring is introducing new songs. For us, I know the soldiers connect with the songs they know, so I have to work to introduce new songs in a way that engages and connects.
What advice can you give other indie artists who want the touring experience?
Relationships. To me, touring is about relationships. For artists who want to tour, when you are starting out, do not say no. Ha-ha, make sure the situation makes sense, but take every shot you are given. Of course, you have to make sure you are engaging with your set, but if your part is in tact, building out full tours is only a matter of time. Patience is key.