Exclusive interview with yU...

Thanks to my good Friend Chris "SPanky" Moss of Divided Souls Entertainment and Michael Tolle of the great Mello Music Group label, I was mad fortunate enough to throw some questions to yU of Diamond District and The1978ers fame.

 My first introduction to the Cheverly, Maryland MC and Producer yU (PKA Michael Willingham Jnr) was on what I honestly feel is one of the greatest albums released in the 00's, 2009's In The Ruff from Diamond District (Oddisee, yU and XO)


  In The Ruff was an album that captured the essence of pure Hip Hop, filled with classic breaks, dope samples and rhyming from 3 (Wise) Men whose lives depended on it, In The Ruff is an essential album and so is yU's material, his first solo album, Before Taxes (2010) was a continuation of the Diamond District sound and style but with yU's unique stamp on it and it was an album that contained great beats, well written rhymes and interesting samples (including soundbites from film) just like his second album The Earn does.

 The Earn is easily one of the best releases of 2011 and an absolute pleasure to listen to front to back, so while you peruse these questions and answers, make sure that The Earn is rocking your speakers hardcore to get the full effect kid.


 CRDS: Please break down the history of yU, your strongest influences and

yU: For the most part, the title yU came from back in the days when I was
learning myself & all of the things that made me  indifferent or unique in
comparison to the majority. I've been told by my moms that since a baby, It
was a regular thing for folks to question my motives & ask why'd you do it
like this or why don't you just do it like everybody else does. I guess
that stubborn nature has stuck with me thru the years.  My strongest
influences in life would probably be my mother & father, or the things I've
actually seen & heard.

CRDS: Who are some of the Producers you would like to work with?

yU: At the moment, the producers I'd like to work with are pretty much myself,
Slimkat78, Oddisee, Kev Brown, Mr HU, Usef Dinero, Roddy Rod, Choppy
Choppe, Charlie Ross
& Waajeed. After finishing up all we have in store for
2012 (which is A LOT), I would like to build with DJ Premier, Nottz, DJ
Khalil, Organized Noize, 14KT, Q-Tip, Portishead, No ID, MF Doom, Bibio,

'and a lot more.. But before I venture out, I'm solidifying things at home
base first..

CRDS:Please list your fave albums from 1988, 1992 and 1994?

yU:Though its hard to pick one...


CRDS: Who are your fave producers and why?

It's hard to name a favorite producer, when I respect so many for so many
different reasons.. But if I had to choose one, I'd say Jay Dee, because he
had so many styles & approaches.. and made very moody beats that
momentarily took you away from wherever you were when u pressed play. I
could only imagine where his sound would've been sonically at this point,
because he left the rest far behind years ago.


 CRDS: What MC's do you most feel inspired by?

 yU: The emcees I feel most inspired by are those who have a unique perspective
& who's voice demands your attention, like Guru, Rakim, Lord Finesse, Large
Pro, Casual, Big L, Andre3000, O.C., Pos
& Trugoy from De La Soul, Devin the
Dude, Kaimbr, Roc Marciano & a lot more..

CRDS: What was your Fave album of 2011?


CRDS: What would you change about the state of Hip Hop in these days?

yU: If I were to change anything about the state of hip hop today, I would
replace the open mindedness that gave birth to decades of change &
evolution but now it seems as though we don't have too many options..
whatever angle is selling the most is the on that gets mimicked by most up
& coming. I would even the scales a bit more when it comes to the focus on
production & the power of the spoken word by putting lyrics back to the
forefront. The bond between hip hop & poetry was much stronger awhile ago,
but now that the general public knows how much more $ producers make, the
beats are the new focus and they're turned up so loud that i can't hear the

Lastly, I'd like to see more album consistency.. Whether it be in
the lane of features, production, or the potency of the music being
released.. If this were juice we were talking about.. I like orange juice,
grape juice, & lemonade. Nowadays, I guess consistency is out of style because
everything is fruit punch.. You don't know what to expect, which can be a
good or a bad thing.

 CRDS: What year did you write your first rhyme and can you remember it?

yU: I wrote my first rhyme in 1994, and I remember the first line was like
"as I stay in tune, the groove is smooth as a jazz song/ you wanna test me,
gimme a mic & a scantron" lol

CRDS: How did you learn the art of beat making?

yU: As far as making beats, i always had ideas.. At about 8/9 yrs old I played
the trumpet & french horn w/ the DC Youth Orchestra. I remember feeling
limited by having to just play what I was instructed to, so I left music
alone until I was about 16. At about then, I started to watch others put
their compositions together, thinking to myself.. That's tight, but if I
did it, I'd probably do it like this.. Slowly but surely, once I had my own
equipment my sound started to grow especially with the help of my triangle
of mentors MrHU, Slimkat78, & Blackberry Jones whom I'd constantly watch &
ask questions.


CRDS: Do you have a lot of unreleased material?

yU: Yes, I do have volumes of unreleased materials.

CRDS: What is your all time fave soul album yU?

yU: This is another difficult one, but at the moment my favorite soul album is
"InnerVisions" by Stevie Wonder


CRDS: Do you write rhymes and set them to beats or hear the beats and write

yU: I don't have a set way to put songs together. Sometimes the beat speaks to
me first or sometimes a concept or a line or two might just flash in my
head.. Or I might be in the process of putting a beat together & as it gets
close to completion a hook or verse might come from inspiration.

CRDS: Was it always the plan to drop a solo album after the great In The Ruff LP
> from Diamond District?

yU: It was a coincidence that both In The Ruff & Before Taxes were finished &
ready for release at the same time.. Although, I had been putting those
songs from "Before Taxes" & even a lot of "the EARN" together  long before
we had started to work on "In The Ruff"


CRDS: What's next for yU?

yU: Right now, I have a lot of projects to be released in 2012. All of which I
can say I am amped & inspired to complete. Slimkat & I are putting our
focus towards turning in the 1978ers album "People of Today". 

Diamond District is working on our 2nd album "March On Washington".. and I'm also
doing another solo project totally produced by Oddisee. Usef Dinero who
produced "Write On" on the EARN & I have an EP already under our belt
called "Flying High" which will be released as a free download before a
follow up project is released. "Killer" is a themed story-esque project
with 8 gory short stories with sounds to match, scheduled to be released
around mid October. And lastly, I'll be following up "A Garbage Beat Tape"
with another instrumental composition I'm pondering on calling "The Future
Was Overrated"

CRDS: Many thanks yU, keep up the great work

yU: Thank you Jaz

Non LP cut produced by Slimkat78 and featuring Eye-Q-"Can't Hide"


yU's FREE A Garbage Beat Tape here...


Places to purchase The Earn and other links...

No comments:


Peace The JMS blog is officially closed and I won't be returning to it, it definitely had a good 11 years or so run but it just s...