INTERVIEW: Yhung T.O. is part of a nexus of young rappers teaching themselves the tricks of the trade.
The incessant narrative of hip hop's legacy program shows no sign of turning its head. Think about it: the rap game is like a study in crop compensation, where the first trimester is spent shopping different anti-aging serums. Jay-Z is quoted as saying "30 is the new 20" when he spoke of his own maturation, but that was nearly ten years ago. Since then, the disc changer has gone to shit.
In Vallejo for example, the anti-aging serum is being passed around like a plate of food. E-40 hangs in the parlor like a Bhudda stone, relevant as ever. On other side of the spectrum, a newly minted group named SOB x RBE is teaching itself to run the gauntlet. Of all the rap groups or artists currently plying their trade in Vallejo, SOB x RBE is principally credited with driving growth in the sector. Their potential breakout star, Yhung T.O. is barely old enough to assume such responsibility, but he'll try. We were lucky to speak with him for just a moment, with his schedule quickly becoming packed to the gills.
Along with his mates Slimmy B, Lul G, and DaBoi have announced the sequel to Gangin coming soon via SOB x RBE/Empire, after months of touring Europe & North America on separate itineraries. Before they set off on tour Yhung T.O. and his mates prepared a series of solo showcases demonstrating the individual traits each members brings to the group.
Peep their single "Vibes" released one day ago via YouTube. Our interview is below
HotNewHipHop: Hey, good afternoon.
Yhung T.O: Good afternoon.
What's your strategy for doing these solo showcases?
Really it started off everybody was on their own solo hype, so when we first started doing songs together it would be 'Yhung T.O featuring DaBoii,' or 'Boii featuring Slimmy,' or whatever. It was never a group (thing) but we figured if we made a group name, and put all our songs out under the same name, then we can all gain fans at the same time. So we did that, got the platform (right), and once you get the platform then we showcase (ourselves) as a group and (as) solo individuals.
So I guess you guys have a willingness to explore your solo endeavours?
Do you guys have individual roles that you fall back on within the group dynamic?
Not really beyond what we bring to the table. We write our own music. If somebody got a song for others to hop on.
Do you find there’s a friendly level of competition within the group that helps everybody stay hungry (for their own success)?
The next person to kill a verse or go crazy on a song make you want to do the same. But we try to motivate each other more than anything. It’s not like competition. We motivate each other to go harder.
On your record “Misunderstood” you spoke about your growth as a person. Can you tell me about your come up and how you guys met? More specifically, how did SOB x RBE become a group?
There was a certain group of us that was rapping, and another group us that wasn’t rapping, but we was all cool (with each other). The people that was rapping started making songs together, ‘cause we’d be chilling at the same house. For everyone that was rapping, there was a studio around the way. Then other people started saying they liked it.
Definitely people in your circle that are a positive influence.
Any must haves in the studio, or rituals?
We needs beats, backwoods, cookies and a lighter, and water to keep us going.
There’s a tradition of reality rap in the Bay for a 2nd Generation or so.
Just talking about reality of the life that we live. I feel like as we grow our lyrics may change as we see more things in life, go more places. After a couple tours, telling our stories. Influence somebody that came from the same circumstances.
What’s the inspiration for your melodic style? I can’t think of anyone in your circumstances apart from (maybe) 1-O.A.K. with that kind of falsetto, and his music sounds nothing like SOB x RBE.
I would say the influence really is growing up listening to Drake, 50 Cent we always rapped but he always had that little melody to his music.
Can you tell me how the Kendrick collaboration came about on the Black Panther soundtrack?
Kendrick was trying to get us on there so our manager put it together and Kendrick flew us out there. We jumped in the studio, he already had the beat (not all the way it is now) but the basic format. He had the beat and inspiration for it ("Paramedics"); and told us to "do what we do." We did our verse and well the next time we heard it was on soundtrack.
Are there plans to work with Kendrick in the future?
I hope so.
"Paramedics" was a SOB x RBE record through and through.
He didn’t want us to veer out of our lane, do what comes naturally.
Is there any aspect of your music that you'd be willing to compromise to widen your audience?
Me personally, the music that I make or (we make) will naturally reach an audience because it’s real life stuff, everyone can relate to real life things. Some songs may be for more street people, some songs more mainstreams or "for the females." We just want to make good music.
I saw the E-40 shouted you out, has he reached out to you guys personally?
Yeah me & E have a good relationship. We did music together that’ll come out soon.
What did you think if his album with B-Legit?
For sure he was rapping like he was young on it.
I don’t think he’s aged one bit.
I just heard the track you did with Bandgang out of Detroit. You guys shared a dynamic yet come from completely different ends of the country. So, I was wondering if there were any other artists outside of California that you've worked with recently or would like to work with?
I'm willing and ready to work with any artist that relates to us and is on that same bar musically and on the same thing I’m on. I'm talking about all collabs.
That's good. If there was anybody out there in particular you think fits that criteria? You already mentioned Drake, is there anybody in the game you see eye to eye with?
Yeah, of course Drake because Drake is the GOAT but besides Drake right now. Probably Ice Cube.
Are you guys wrapping up your tour?
Nah, the tour just ended. But we're going to go on our Global Gangin' Tour soon.
Like a brief period of kind of repose then you have a MoMa gig in New York, that could be a little odd or different?
To be completely honest, I'm not well informed at the moment but when I do get informed, I will get prepared for anything that comes my way.
It's quite strange to see the faces promoting hip hop in 2018. Now I know you wouldn't be the first to say something like "Fuck Migos", concert or call for someone's head, I just want to know how you feel about rap beef. Especially in the wake of the Drake-Pusha T feud. How would you respond to a rapper if they came for you or threw you under the bus like that?
Fuck rap beef. It's all about a bag. We come from the streets with real beef. We need the money.
Beef is good business too, no?
Yeah, but that's not the way to go. That's more like, gimmicks and trolling and all that. People don't look at that as respect. People want to be respected for their work not respected for their antics and who they're beefing with. We want to be respected for our business.
True, E-40 is a good example of what you've described.
I feel like I'm really just relaying my piece and my story for people to learn who I am. You gravitate towards me to the point where then I can lead people in a direction for better at the end of the day. So, really that's just my whole goal to capture the people and show them my story and try and influence the later generations.
So, there's definitely a positive aspect to that right? Be what you want to see in others.
Yeah, of course. But somebody has to feel like you understand where they're coming from. You have to bring them in to your world and let them see how you grew up first because you can't just tell, you've got to show.
Absolutely. Does that mean that you see yourself as a potential leader? Start your own imprint?
Yeah. I mean, I feel like we're trying to do that now. People around us are our brothers who want to start rapping or who has talent or anybody that we see, drop them in here.
Do you rock with artists from other parts of the Bay, other parts of Cali, like say Mozzy from Sacramento?
Yeah, I have an EP coming out with Mozzy called Legendary. And then as far as other stuff goes, we embrace who embraces us so at the end of the day I work with more Bay Area artists and different people so it's just we embrace who embraces us. [Legendary Gangland has since released here].
I guess the community is going to keep growing. Philthy Rich, he has about fifty albums to his name, right?
Whether it's Lul G or DaBoii, I see SOB x RBE content at least once a week. Yeah, we try to keep the market saturated.
It is a saturated market indeed. The one group I find similar to SOB x RBE is Shoreline Mafia. Are they on your radar?
Yeah, me and DaBoii got a song with Shoreline Mafia and then I got a song with Shoreline Mafia too. That's going to be coming out soon.
Honestly, I hope you guys have a great run in Europe, and keep up the torrid pace.
Yeah, for sure. Appreciate it. We're going to keep saturating the market, keep dropping heat. We're going to drop the group so that way they can get them singles. When they done listening to the group, they going to listen to me, they going to listen to DaBoii, Slimmy B. I look forward to it.
Any news or announcement you'd like to share before we go our separate ways?
I got two singles out now, "Down Chick" and "Referee" featuring DaBoii. Projects on the way, videos coming too!
Thank you, I appreciate you guys.
Yeah for sure. I appreciate it.