Yakballz: Futuristic Socks
By: Tim Baker
I remember the first time I heard the Yak Ballz song ĎFlossiní on the now defunct Stretch and Bobbito show
and being thoroughly impressed by the combination of flow, style, voice, and humor that the kid Yak possessed.
I was instantly won over as a fan. Years went by and quality singles dropped followed by the album My Claim on
Eastern Conference. After that it seemed as though Yak stepped away from the scene for a little bit. I used
to see him at shows here and there hanging out back stage with the rest of the crew but he seemed to be laying
in the cut, perhaps waiting for the perfect time to drop his masterpiece. Well that time has come with the release
of his new album Scifentology II, an impressive work showing a lot of growth as an artist and a person. I sat
down with Yak to discuss his new record, plans for the future and to shoot the shit. Enjoy.
Philaflava: For those readers who are unfamiliar with you please introduce yourself
Yak Ballz: My name is Yak Ballz and I sleep on my stomach.
PF: With regards to the new album, tell us what we can expect, whatís different from past releases. Also who you worked with on it?
Yak: You can expect a lot of the unexpected. I'm too advanced for my past releases. They are inferior to
Scifentology II. If anyone wants to know who I worked with they need to buy it. Thatís my new sales pitch. You into it?
PF: I dig it. I recently saw that you are playing the paid dues festival for the first time this spring, you
did the tour over the summer with cage, to give the paid dues fans a taste of what you can do. Do you have
any special plans for the show to give them the full Yak experience?
Yak: Playing the Paid Dues Festival is a huge opportunity for me so I plan to come out and make the other
acts and people who don't know who I am say "who the fuck is that dude?"
PF: What are your plans for touring the record?
Yak: Getting on tour these days is pretty difficult and expensive. Iím doing everything I can to hit the road.
Iím also trying my best to find a booking agent but in the meantime Iíve been finding and setting up my own shows
all over. Itís truly a struggle.
PF: Now that we got that basic shit out of the way I figure since we know each other we can make this interview
a little more interesting and let people know what one Yak Ballz is all about. So letís just jump into something
near and dear to both of our hearts, Lost. Did you see the first episode of season four and what are your thoughts?
Sub-question, why the hell did you plan your album release party on the same day as the long awaited season premiere?
Yak: Of course I saw it! I thought it was a set-up episode. Everyone said it was amazing. I thought it was pretty
good. I'm always expecting something insane to pop off immediately but I know better. It's like they give you a couple
Pringles and expect them to hold you over until the next week. I am going to watch it again now that I think about it.
It was cool to find out about the "Oceanic 6" and now with the new flash forwards it makes it more interesting and adds
a new dynamic that we only were introduced to in the last episode of Season 3. I spoke to EL and he was like "dude
Charlie might be alive." F.Y.I to all of those people who might be thinking the same, Charlie is dead and Hurley has
lost his mind. So are you saying the reason you didn't come to my release show is because you stayed home to watch
Lost? I figured you out Timmy. I didn't schedule it the same day on purpose but I'm glad it was a packed house regardless.
P.S I bought and watched the episode on iTunes the next day.
PF: Yeah, sorry about that but after seeing it I had to get my full nerd on and watch it again online and talk about it
with other nerds. But this isnít about me and something that may or may not of happened this is about you and itís my
understanding that you, Chan and Melski saw Cloverfield and the overall impression was mehh? Whatís up with that?
Yak: It was definitely entertaining and had me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the movie but it's becoming
clearer that Hollywood is taking certain appeals from other blockbusters and mashing them into one. It's like a race to
make the perfect blockbuster using ideas from ones that came out less than 5 years before it. I didn't think it was bad
but I might be over movies about big monsters destroying cities. Not to mention our interpretations of monsters and
aliens are so funny. It's always a rendition of the same dude. Speaking of JJ Abrams I was saying the monster in
Cloverfield is what is behind the smoke machine monster-ish thing in Lost that was introduced and never to be seen
again until the blockbuster movie.
PF: Letís move on too some other shit. Now I donít know if this is true or not but it was always my understanding that
you were dubbed Yak Ballz by Bobbito Garcia, from the legendary Stretch and Bobbito show, when you worked at his store
Footwork? Is any of this true? If so what was it like working there and being part of that whole scene?
Yak: Yes it's true. I interned for Bobbito which lead me to working at Bobbito's Footwork in NY when I was a teenager in
high school. It was an awesome place to work because I loved coming into the city especially the downtown Greenwich
Village area. If you aren't from New York, it's not so clear that the city is a separate place altogether from the boroughs
surrounding it. I grew up in Flushing Queens which was a much different atmosphere than downtown so to have had the chance
to make the trip there was a pleasure for me. Footwork was the most true to life Hip Hop/Urban store I've ever seen in my
life. I absolutely loved being down in that basement and listening an assortment of vinyl that I had right at my fingertips.
We had a Nike account and Nike sent us exclusive kicks like dunks, humarras, and air max 95's way before it became super popular
to become a "sneaker head" in NY. Aside from Union, it was one of the first real hip hop boutiques in NY that carried independent
T-Shirt lines like 10 Deep and Staple when these companies started out. That experience molded me to be the artist I am today and
taught me the most I ever learned about Hip Hop culture in the truest form. Looking back I know I was a part of something very special.
PF: so back when you were working with Bob and Footwork you dropped a few singles than you dropped Freak show with Jux, after
that you disappeared from the scene for a minute, what was going on during that time?
Yak: I was going to college during that time but I still managed to put out some vinyl and do features on different projects. I didn't
quite know where I fit in as independent hip hop was breaking up into several sub-genres with respect to up-and-coming labels branding
themselves with certain musical styles. I was an undergrad from Queens writing songs in my dorm room. I was creatively active but I
didn't know where I belonged because I didn't want to be categorized as a backpack rapper, nerd rap or underground even though people
pegged me as those things. I hated all those terms but even then I had the confidence in myself to hold off from jumping into a
label situation that was going to target one audience and alienate another.
PF: How do you think things have changed since then and where do you see yourself fitting in now?
Yak: People donít buy records anymore. As little as 7 years ago people were still buying records and attending shows. These days,
selling a ton of records and having a successful turnout is a lot less likely. I decided I was sick of it all. I wanted to spread
my wings, be myself, and do what I like whether people shit on me for it or not. So I did and I have no regrets. I actually donít
even want to fit in because that would make me the same as people who do. Iím not them. They smell bad.
PF: I understand you used to write and roll with a crew call TCK, tell us about your experience as a writer and what the crew was all
about. Also is this where you met Ewok?
Yak: Graf played and still plays a significant part in my life. The state of the economy is affecting my life more now than
graffiti does. No one will ever experience what I felt in NY when I was growing up again. They can't relate to jumping into
bus windows or walking Broadway with 30 Northface jackets, long bill brims, and air max 95's beaming. Obama for President if
I had to choose. I met Ewok through TCK and Kel 5MH. He thinks I never believe him.
PF: You mention the economy and Obama, obviously the country is kinda fucked after 8 years of Bush/Cheney and people seem
to be clamoring for a change. You have the unique perspective of someone who has traveled the country and have seen how
people are all across the land. Do you feel that this desire for change is real or just lip service?
Yak: I think itís very real and if McCain gets elected it doesnít seem like much is going to change. We need change. I
need people to make more so they will spend more so I can make a living. Iím sure that goes for you, and millions of
people. I went to Newark to scoop Tame One recently and I couldnít get over the amount of Obama posters and signs all
over the place. Have you ever seen the Shepard Fairey print that says ďprogressĒ? Iím all for it.
PF: Ok on another note, you and I have done a few tours together (The EL-P ISWYD Tour and Paid Dues Tour) any fun stories
you want to share with the readers about life on those tours? Any good pranks etc?
Yak: I remember one night the tour bus got infested with about a thousand crickets crawling everywhere. Someone left a
window open and I guess they just all climbed in the bus or they got the code and let themselves in like Govone said.
It was nuts. Wind and Breeze was running around manic with a flip flop in his hand smashing crickets all over the place. EL
was just sitting on the couch saying it was a sign from God while everyone else was trying to kill them all. It was a hilarious scene.
PF: I am still under the belief that the guys in SSS had something to do with it; luckily it was towards the very end of
the tour. But guilty or not it did set of a chain reaction of pranks, care to comment on these events?
Yak: This set off Dibbs unleashing crickets in our dressing room, which lead to us shaving our armpit and chest hairs and
using honey to paste it on door handles.
PF: Yeah that was fucking disgusting. Any final comments you would like to leave the readers with?
Yak: When all else fails, tell the tale. History books are always written by the winners. Buy my album
Scifentology II so I can buy new futuristic socks.
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