YONAS oozes charisma. Lyrical charisma. Natural charisma. Zack Morris-coolest-kid-in-school-type-charisma. The Bronx native OWN’s it like Oprah’s network. It’s a large part of what makes his first official release (third overall), The Proven Theory, so engaging. Holstering his innate mix of cadence, melody and contextual relevance is an inherent charisma prepackaged for mass appeal. Earnest swagger; unpretentious in every sense.

Take YONAS’ ironically noxious ode to mindless rhymes, “Stupid Brilliance”, for example. His seamless transition from political commentary to braggadocio; straight-spitting to half-crooning is equal parts personal and party-ready. “This is that retarded rap. / So dumb it’s smart, in fact,” he raps over Sean Divine’s crashing snare and sped-up soul sample. The song, like the album, is the definition of intelligent pop-music.

“I think it’s very important to be nice, but there are a lot of artists who are nice who don’t know how to package their gift.” YONAS said to The Well Versed during this interview. “This is New York City. I’m very territorial. Protective. I want it to be represented in a way that is actually accurate.”

The Well Versed: Do you feel like The Proven Theory represents New York?

YONAS: I do. I do. I think it represents New York. But more importantly, it represents me. It’s personal to me so it is New York. But it’s also North Carolina. It’s also [Los Angeles]. It’s also back home where my mom is from, where my dad is from in Uganda, Ethiopia.

TWV: Tanzania.

YONAS: Tanzania. It’s Europe -- where my mom went to get a better education. It’s all those stories that I kind of embodied and that kind of shaped my outlook. It’s East Harlem. It’s the South Bronx. It’s mid-Manhattan -- where I learned the difference between the different people of color. It’s a combination of all those things. The Proven Theory is probably the best sum up of what has gone on in my life up to this point.

TWV: This is your third project. How’s the journey been so far?

YONAS: It’s great, man. Sometimes it’s tough because you’re competing with all of these people that look like they’re leagues beyond you when in all actuality, they’re right there with you. They just have more smoke and mirrors around them. It’s a process, but it’s one that I enjoy extremely. I love making music and I’m in this for the right reasons. It would be great to make money because eventually I would like to open up other businesses just to expand my mind and expand my creativity. At this point it’s great, man. I’m just having fun, taking it day by day. There’s always people in worse off situations. So hell yeah, I’m having a great time.

TWV: The Proven Theory to me sounds like intelligent pop music. How do you feel about that statement specifically?

YONAS: I love it. I love it. People is so scared of the word “Pop.” I’m not. I love it because all that it means is that it’s “popular.” The abbreviation “Pop” is from the word “popular.” Unfortunately, what has become popular isn’t necessarily the best music, but that’s just what the genre’s called. I don’t let it scare me away from doing what I do. I’m never going to compromise to become more like what’s considered to be Pop. I’m just going to do me and if that so happens to become popular, hell yeah. I love it. I ain’t scared of it at all. I invite the challenge.

TWV: You’re not scared of the limelight, either?

YONAS: No. I love it. I just think it’s another platform to help people to become more aware, just to be myself. The day that I start to not be myself is the day that I fear a spotlight. Because then it’s like, “What happens if I slip up? What happens if I say something that I’m not supposed to, that my publicist didn’t write for me?” As long as I’m myself, you can bring on as many light bulbs as you want to. It’s just going to make the truth that much more bright.

TWV: What do you do when you’re not writing rhymes?


No comments: