November 22, 2011

Interview: @MelloMusicGroup & @yUthe78er discuss The EARN

It’s refreshing to hear music from a label that has a penchant for quality. With all of Mello Music Group’s releases, aside from personal preferences, artistic integrity seems to be paramount and we, the listeners, are rewarded for their strict adherence to that mission. With yU’s The EARN nearing its release date, Mello Music Group and the Diamond District representative have done it again, possibly eclipsing the stellar debut project Before Taxes. yU shares some insight into the creative process, but also touches on the business side of things as seen through the lens of the artist on an independent label.

Let’s dive right in, your solo debut, Before Taxes, was roundly praised as one of the greatest albums to come out in 2011. Give the readers some insight as to where you’ve taken things sonically with the new album due out in December, The EARN.                                                                                                                                           I’m a firm believer in legacy, so the purpose sonically with The EARN was to start where Before Taxes left off, sustain the feeling and then explore new territory. I’m growing and fine-tuning as a person, MC, and producer, so the sound is a reflection of that. One thing I didn’t want to do, was to hit a ceiling where sometimes artists literally put their ALL into their earlier projects, and don’t leave room to grow sound-wise, recording on the best equipment money can buy. Doing this straight out the gate can be a bad thing because it takes away from the listener seeing you fine-tune the sound over time.                                 

As an MC, how do you balance craft (the technical aspects of MCing) with content (the lyrical and energetic message) and business (the commercialization of your art)?                                                                                                                                                       The more I understand things inside out, the easier it is for me to do it correctly. The technical aspects of the flow and content in my rhymes has been a focus since the mid-90′s coming up. In fact, those elements at times meant so much to me. That if I didn’t surprise myself with whatever I came up with or feel like I’m repeating myself, no one else would even get to hear it. So in balancing those two sides, it’s kinda built in for ‘em to be at a certain standard. The third side of that triangle is the newest to me. But, with time and a driving want to know how to improve in that lane comes understanding. A lot more is making sense on this second rotation.                                                                                 

Explain to readers the process by which you begin making a record and how you go from inception to product on the shelf. What steps and time frame does the creation, marketing, and sale of an album take?                                                            For me, this time around the first step in the album constructing process was finding a title that meant something to me. At the time, I was going through a lot of what I spoke about on the album. So, when you take that and add on having Slimkat (whom I run most of my ideas through because I admire his taste) and a dope set of peers that pass around beats and stuff, we all were working on at the time and figuring out the sound that I’m aiming for (in this case it was grit, not a lot of synthy, keyboardy joints). I started recording a mass amount of songs, too many actually. So a batch of those, later would be used as an introduction to the sound. (Before Taxes). Once the label was involved, I had to get adjusted to creating with a date to turn it in by. Honestly, I didn’t really want to do any production besides the interlude beats. But getting closer to wrapping things up, I kind of understood what it called for. After that came the artwork and mixing, which can be trying, but thanks to 00Genesis and Oddisee for making this a smooth process, too. Following this, we had to figure out in what order  all of this would be unfolded to the listener, figuring out singles, bonus materials, and more. Time-wise, it took about four years to bring Before Taxes & The EARN to a close.      

So coming into your sophomore release, how do you plan to expand the reach of the record beyond the core following you built with Before Taxes?                         Our plan to expand to a wider audience is by proving that we’re consistent in quality, sound and work ethic. Some people won’t support a new cat until they see a few projects under their belt that are consistently dope, which i understand because I feel the same way at times. I pride myself on expanding on what I talk about and finding different rhyme patterns and rhythms, being an example of growth. Kind of late, but maybe not, this time around, we’re adding on the visual aspect with about three or more videos and bonus materials because some need to see who they’re listening to before supporting wholeheartedly. Lastly, by keeping up the legacy and growing with our core audience, they’ll spread the word by telling others, who will also tell others, and so on and so on.                

You are a successful solo artist, but have also gained much notoriety with Oddisee and X.O. as 1/3 of the group Diamond District in addition to having a group with Slimkat called The 1978ers. So, how do you go about branding each one of these groups with a unique sound and vision?  What makes each one special while still being congruent with the yU brand?                                                    To be honest, earlier on, I came up in a group/team environment and found out that playing your part is the most important thing. The better you are at playing your part, the more responsibility you can take on. A common respect flows through each formation – between Diamond District, the1978ers, and my solo projects. They all have a different angle, which comes with unique roles that I gotta play. Each with a different sound and direction, which gives me a wide area to create. Within the 1978ers and Diamond District, I mostly focused on the emceeing/vocal production aspect because Slimkat and Oddisee laid a solid sound foundation. On solo projects, I take what I’ve learned from those situations and try to touch the grounds that weren’t covered.                                                                

You spent some time on the road with Diamond District, including a number of shows in Europe, what part does touring play in the creation of new music and in the business of building a fan base?                                                                              With touring comes new experiences to talk about; different environments which can lead to a fresh motivation; the realization that the world is much bigger than you imagined; and things you wrote down and recorded in your hometown were put out and made it all the way to some far off country before you even got there. It’s a must to get out there and be able to meet the folks following your movement. In turn, by stepping far away from where you’re from, you gain the respect of your hometown, too, because they see that you’re spreading out.                                                                                                                             

How important are visuals in conveying the message of a record to an audience?                                                                                                                                                    Visuals can be very important in relaying your message to an audience. My main thing is to not just do a video or a lot of videos, but to do THE video that best gets the point across. This way, the visuals will last the test of time, just as a classic song would.                         

What is your take on social media -Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Myspace- and how do you utilize them in marketing yourself?                                                                    Social media has become a very useful means of directly connecting with your audience. Music is made for listeners and on each of those avenues you’ll find multitudes of possible people to reach. I use Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud and whatever else will pop up in the future, if in the end we’ll be able to expand our audience. My method just isn’t spamming folks to death. I try to personalize and build with folks on a one-on-one basis by being straight up with them.

You’ve been on Mello Music Group since almost the very beginning. Tell us about that relationship and what pushing records with an indie label entails.      For somebody who came up listening to Tribe say, “Industry rule number 4080, record company people are shady,” I came into this chapter of my journey with my guards up and watching out for folks trying to capitalize on what’s taken me years to develop. Working with the label for the Before Taxes’ release was a first for me, and a risk for both. Since then, I’ve learned a lot. I have a respect for the purpose and sound that Mello Music Group brings to the table. Every emcee/artist thinks that they want creative freedom, but not all of them are willing to do more than write a couple of rhymes then kick their feet up until the music hits the stores. Through coming up with Mello, I’ve learned that it’s as much the artists responsibility to grow into more roles than they started out in. I think it’s way more work when you’re on an indie label. But, if you both as the artist/label exec enjoy what you do, and go above and beyond to fine-tune your method and push your product to the masses, in the end, it should all pan out.

Thanks to yU and Mike from Mello Music Group for providing insight into the approach for the new album, The EARN. They’ve also been gracious enough to gives fans another song off the upcoming album called “If U Down.”

Be sure to check for yU’s The EARN:

December 6th early exclusive itunes pre-release!
December 13th is the official release on vinyl, cd, and digital stores everywhere
Chris Moss

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11 Trackbacks

  1. By New Music: yU – If U Down | nerdsofrhyme on November 22, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    [...] 13th.   Enjoy the song! Pre-Order Here. Read the Interview w/ yU @ Al Lindstrom Share this:ShareStumbleUponPrintFacebookEmailTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  2. By yU: If U Down [Prod. By SlimKat78] on November 22, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    [...] You can pre-order your copy of ‘The Earn’ via iTunes here. Pre-order the limited vinyl version here, the Digipack here , both through Underground Hip Hop. You can read the full yU interview with Al Linstrom here. [...]

  3. By yU-”If U Down” [@mellomusicgroup @yUthe78er] | on November 22, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    [...] Man, this track is crazy, like literally. yU always has this way he connects with the track to me which as a listener makes me connect with whatever he is talking about something as simple as getting it on in Rock Creek Park, or here, not to mention, the production palette laid out on this track by Slimkat78 and Drewkid complete with the rain sounds– this track is crazy. This is one of the first leaks from yU’s upcoming release Earn, which will hit stores December 13th.  This track was premiered this afternoon in an exclusive interview with Al Lindstrom which you can hear here. [...]

  4. By yU – If U Down | Netvybe on November 27, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    [...] yU x Al Lindstrom Interview PREVIOUS: yU – A Garbage Beat Tape [...]

  5. By yU – If U Down | on November 27, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    [...] yU x Al Lindstrom Interview PREVIOUS: yU – A Garbage Beat Tape [...]

  6. By Not I Said The Fly | my words are weapons… on November 27, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    [...] yU x Al Lindstrom Interview PREVIOUS: yU – A Garbage Beat Tape [...]

  7. By yU – If U Down « Rap Hip-Hop Beats on November 27, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    [...] yU x Al Lindstrom Interview PREVIOUS: yU – A Garbage Beat Tape (Album) Posted in: Hip-Hop, rap, [...]

  8. By yU – If U Down | WORLD SWAGG on November 27, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    [...] yU x Al Lindstrom Interview PREVIOUS: yU – A Garbage Beat Tape (Album) 2dopeboyz Related posts:YG Hootie – Red [...]

  9. By yU – If U Down // Download // | Culture King on November 28, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    [...] on Vinyl, CD & Digital, & is due for release on December 13 via Mello Music Group. Visit here for Al Lindstrom‘s in-depth interview with yU about the forthcoming album. [...]

  10. By yU – If U Down // Download // | Culture King on December 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    [...] on Vinyl, CD & Digital, & is due for release on December 13 via Mello Music Group. Visit here for Al Lindstrom‘s in-depth interview with yU about the forthcoming album. This entry was [...]

  11. By yU - The Earn | Album Review | SoulCulture on March 11, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    [...] an interview with Al Lindstrom, yU explained the progression of the album by saying, “I’m a firm believer in legacy, so the [...]

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