We wrote about the debut album Felt Pen Sketch Book, from Edmonton native YOU a couple weeks back along with his follow-up mixtape Thievin Fer Steez. YOU is back with a proper follow-up album that we are happy to premier today called ‘A Righteous Dude’, located at the bottom of this article for streaming.
The project takes inspiration from the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or at least the attitude of Ferris. Like Ferris, YOU is a curious soul that raps about anything that he finds interesting or strange, including politicians, magicians and women. He uses the same philosophy when it comes to his production, using samples ranging from banjos to Bollywood singers, the beats are always evolving. It’s an album filled with grooves, his laid-back beats and casual delivery keeping it chill while lacing it with elements like funk guitars to keep the head bobbing. Each song brings a new hook, many of them created with production tricks and handled by YOU, avoiding singing but breaking up the verses well with samples.
There’s a lot on ‘A Righteous Dude’ to dissect but it’s also a purely enjoyable listen. We reached out to YOU to answer a few questions for us about his most recent album, his process and bare-handed jaguar hunting.
AU: Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to answer some questions. Speaking of which, you’ve produced three mixtapes this year and we are only half way through, what is fuelling you and do you plan on keeping up the pace?
YOU: There isn’t really a plan involved. The music is fun to make so actually making lots of it hasn’t been an issue. My main thing now is improvement, and lately it just so happens that a lot of the material has been shit I’ve liked enough to share with others. I haven’t yet ever felt like I’ve worked hard in the production process.
AU: Would you say that you are producing this music as much for you as your audience then?
YOU: Definitely. I didn’t start this to impress anyone or ‘make it’ (“Don’t get me wrong, I need cream n all that” – Jay Elohim), but as more of something personal to work on, in regards to developing a skill in something I’m passionate about. Ill take the audience into account as they grow. Maybe.
AU: These three mixtapes are pretty cohesive, did you have an idea of how you wanted to sound going into it, or was there a learning curve?
YOU: Felt Pen Sketch Book is definitely a debut, and I see this upcoming one as the follow up. Thievin Fer Steez is more or less just me having so much material that I wanted to get it out. There are 24 tunes on it and the last record is a mixtape within the mixtape. FPSB and A Righteous Dude are definite projects with more my production and trying for more of a sonic journey, while Thievin Fer Steez is just me and my buddies rapping on shit we like, writing little jams, and really just acting stupid in the booth. It’s gotten a better reception than I’ve expected.
AU: When you sit down to write your lyrics is it the flow you’re after, or the meaning and the message?
YOU: I rarely sit and fully write out a song. That’s more of an ongoing process. When I sit down after the music is patterned out, I like to take time to really organize the little jots and flows I have into something cohesive and hopefully what has a strong partnership with the music. When I’m writing, which gets put down on paper when I think of it wherever I am, I take it all into account. Wordplay, flow, and topics. No message though. The concept and idea behind ‘YOU’ is that the lyrics are meant to fit into the listener’s life, into their scope of perspectives and experiences. What they mean to me is really unimportant. When I’m organizing it all together I am simply gunning for the feel of the words in relation to the music.
AU: Your latest mixtape ‘A Righteous Dude’ is loosely based around Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, what are the themes are you taking from the 90’s classic and why’d you choose it over, say, The Goonies.
YOU: It’s not based off the movie, it’s mostly me trying to write from Ferris Bueller’s perspective almost…maybe tryna just capture the essence of that character on the records. The underlying theme to that film, beyond a clever dude skipping school n shit, was how everybody loved that guy. He had homies who were in every social circle. He was a straight up chameleon at that school. Why? He was real. Didn’t fuck with people, and went out of his way for them. Its what made his whole day possible more than having his little pranks and tricks, it was because he had people who had his back. Ferris Bueller is one of those characters who I wish could’ve had more of an influence on kids. There would be a lot less trend-hopping and falling for fads I think. Granted that’s assuming the entertainment industry has the type of strangle hold on culture it thinks it does.
AU: Speaking of avoiding fads, your lyrics deal extensively with symbols, prisms, pyramids, and a lot of mythical or mystical elements rather than rhymes driven by ego. What draws you to this instead of more typical subject matter that other rappers rely on?
YOU: Just what I’m interested in. I get bored when people tell me party or sex stories. The content, topic-wise is really just an extension of what me and buddies will be talking about when we have a spliff in rotation.
AU: You deal with the bigger questions as well, would you say you’ve got the world figured out or are you still searching for yourself?
YOU: No. I’m 23 years old. I don’t know shit. I don’t know if I’m really searching either, because I’m not sure if theirs a point. I know what I’m good at and bad at, and I understand they might flip as I get older. Everybody has questions unanswerable and is looking for solutions unreachable. What’s more important is realizing those questions are normal, and part of the human condition…instead of simply finding out why.
AU: So what is your philosophy on life?
YOU: “You’re not special. Even if you were 1 in a million, on a planet of 7 billion, there will still be 7000 YOU’s”
AU: Very true, and you include a lot of references to other cultures in your work, is this to keep your music stylistically diverse or an intellectual statement?
YOU: Again it’s a product of the people who I am around the most right now. Not to prove anything. Maybe to add a little flavour to the rhymes, and global appeal n shit. But it’s definitely no statement. I’m not impressed with smart or ‘deep’ people. Intelligence is just a result of interest.
AU: What is your philosophy when it comes to producing?
YOU: Stay on beat. Blank slate every time.
AU: You’ve got Steve Nash listed as an influence, care to explain?
YOU: We’re blood related. He just doesn’t know it yet. And I used to hoop on my universities’ team. But yeah, that’s my cousin or uncle or something. He’ll find out eventually.
AU: Who are you currently listening to?
YOU: Bronson, Jay Elec, Old Droog, BLu, RiFF RAFF, ScHool Boy, Tequila Mocking Bird Orchestra, Cat Empire (im the biggest stan for these ozzie bastards), and Jaya the Cat. Lot more too, but im bad with Names.
AU: What was the last good book you read?
YOU: This one by Douglas Coupeland, but I forget the Name. Read his shit though.
AU: Anything else you’d like to mention?
YOU: I’m opening a Bed n Breakfast for low income backpackers n travellers in Panama. “Smoke n a Pancake – Tha Breakfast JOINT” Jungle Tours, Reef Tours, White-tip Reef Shark freeze tag, and Bare Handed Jaguar Hunting. Be ready.
AU: I gotta know if this is real because it sounds way too good to be true.
YOU: Hey man. I get this rap money right, might be up n running quicker than you think.
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