YB is originally from Pine Bluff, AR, but has spent most of his life on the road, not quite belonging in any one place. Despite a challenging upbringing as one of 8 children in a single mother home, YB found the presence of God at a young age. It wasn't until his college years, when a local college pastor in Camden, AR paid for YB to go to a Passion conference, that he decided that "his life needed reworked." YB surrendered all of himself, including his love for music, to Christ, and God began to rework him from the inside out. After dropping a string of grabbing releases, YB went on to make a statement in March of 2018 with the release of “GSHS2” which peaked at 20 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel charts! Recently, YB took some time to preview his upcoming project, Fire & Desire.
Congratulations on your upcoming release of Fire & Desire out in October! How does this title reflect the album as a whole?
'Fire & Desire' came from me embracing the “entire” process of doing something worth taking the stairs for. Rapping for 10 years at this point, I approached it with a "by any means" mindset. When I started making music, I used it as an escape. The pressure I felt growing up as a child fueled my desire to take on the “happy ending” approach to my music early on. The journey on this album included the mountaintops and the valleys. The parts when the sun was out and things went according to plan, but also the times when it rained and it really poured. I think expressing that side of the journey has become more crucial than ever before. I believe we have a generation full of the next greats, but for anything great to truly manifest, we have to understand, it will take us enduring the highs and the lows. We can’t want gold and not experience the furnace. That’s why the album’s titled 'Fire & Desire.'
How would you compare the evolution of this album to your previous releases, No Shortcuts and God Still Has Soldiers 2?
More than anything, I would say I’m more aware of everything. I’m more aware of my purpose, my past, my future, and my mission. With every project, the goal is to give it 110%. But over time, as you grow, that type of dedication requires another piece of you. I think on this project, I was more focused on having a genuine conversation with the listener.
You are pre-releasing two tracks, “Clark Kent” and “My Shot”. How do you define success for these releases?
For me it’s different. Success for me has always been long term. With that mindset, I measure my wins differently. I focus on energy. When I release, I want my supporters to be excited. Not only for what we just released, but also for what’s to come. I look at this entire process as a book. I’m trying to tell a story. So instead of trying to “wow” them with the book cover, I’m carefully crafting each chapter to keep supporters engaged. Engagement is key.
Which track are you most looking forward to listeners hearing?
The track I’m most excited for the supporters to hear is “Only One”. I see that song as a purple cow. When I was writing the song, the verses came to me pretty quickly, but the hook took months. I kept going in to record with all these elaborate arrangements and etc. One day, I was like man, I’m just going to press record and what comes out is what it is. In the living room of my apartment, I recorded one of my favorite songs to date. “Only One” is crazy.
Who or what were some of your biggest inspirations, spiritually and musically, in developing this collection of songs?
My greatest inspiration is life itself. Everyday living experiences. It’s been that way since my first release in 2014. So much happens in a day that triggers emotions, feelings, and memories; all I have to do is capture it. Truth is, I can be inspired all day long, but when the rubber meets the road, God has to show up and bless the process. If not, everything will sound forced. That’s always a terrible experience.
What is the one key takeaway message you hope listeners leave with after hearing your new project?
The key takeaway message I hope listeners’ leave with is that they’ll make it through. The reality is, life can be hard. And we live in a time where you only see everyone’s highlights, so it’s easy to go through your hard times and feel like you’re in last place because everyone around you is “winning”. But, I’ve been in last place, I’ve been in the valleys, and I’ve seen God turn things around. I’ve seen Him prepare tables. He did it for me; I know he’ll do it for you.
What are you most looking forward to the rest of this year after the release of your record?
I’m excited about taking the new record on the road. I love writing, recording, and getting the record out, but nothing beats seeing people connect with the music. I love creating moments for people. Moments that may last a lifetime. So once the album drops, my team and I will be praying over the nuts and bolts of a tour.