Name: Elijah Yo
Growing up, what drew you to hip hop? Where there any artists or aspects of the scene which inspired you?
The first time I started listening to hip hop was when I was 10. My older brother came over from NZ and gave me a phone full of rap music from NWA to The Slim The Slim Shady LP. I loved listening to it, but never thought I’d end up rapping. The rappers that inspired me to actually start putting pen to paper were Eminem, The Game, Big Pun, The Notorious B.I.G, Snoop and Jay Z. But overall, Dr Dre’s legacy from NWA, through The Chronic to 2001 is my biggest inspiration.
How have you seen the hip hop genre / community change over the years?
The scene isn’t as raw or as uplifting as it was in the ’90s. I think in the 2000s rap lost that essence and became more about flaunting, and we were lucky for people like Kanye in the 2000s to speak the truth. But now I feel the scene is more popular than ever, especially with the UK rap scene being as big as it is right now, I would say Australia and New Zealand are next. I do think too many people hate on the mumble rap scene that’s in now, but I couldn’t care less about it. Do you and let other people do them.
To you, what defines Australian hip hop?
To me, the different cultures we have as Australian rappers defines Australian hip hop.
What do you think lays in the future for our local scene?
I think in 10 years, the world will be surprised with what comes out of Aus and NZ. I think we’ve been slept on for too long and the artists who know what they want are going to make it happen for the country. On top of that, every artist that I’ve spoken to are all about the city they’re in and where they’re from, and it’s all love from other artists. I think we’re going to help each other rise.
Is there anything in particular that you and your music seek to achieve?
I want my music to be able to change people the way music changed me. I want people to listen to my music and be able to relate to the things I’m talking about. I want people to know that a Pacific Islander kid born in NZ can make a living off making good music and can inspire people to do the same. I can’t remember the last Islander artist sitting at the Grammys with NZ and Aus backing them. I want to be someone teenagers from Aus and NZ can look at and say they can do it because I did.
How did you come to submit your track to the WVS Next Gen Competition, and what was your thought process while waiting for the results?
I had been following WVS for a minute after being at Big Swell in Sydney. When I saw they had openings for Next Gen I had no idea what it was, but if it was anything like Big Swell, I knew I wanted in on it. I was nervous waiting for the results – I was announced on the last day, so the whole week I was waiting on someone to hit me up, and on the last day I remember thinking I didn’t make it, and about an hour later WVS got at me and from there it’s been a dope experience.
Tell us a little about the track you submitted:
I submitted my first single Mojo. I dropped the clip maybe a week or two before the announcements – I’d say it was my first proper clip. A producer from NZ named EDY sent me a few different instrumentals and I slept on the Mojo beat for weeks before I came back to the email and heard it and started writing to it. The track came naturally cause I fucked with the beat so hard, and after the vocals were laid, I mixed & mastered that shit.
How did you feel when you were announced as one of the winners out of 120 entrants?!
I was surprised, to be honest. Some part of me knew I was going to be chosen but that week of waiting had me anxious and on the last day I was kinda like ” nahhh we didn’t make it ” but it flipped and I knew I was right.
What are you most looking forward to at the WVS Next Gen Showcase?
Probably showing my talent to a bunch of people who love rap as much as I do. Connecting with the other artists is going to be dope too, especially since they from other parts of Aus I think connecting with them is a dope opportunity.
How do you see independent hip hop labels like WVS making a difference in the Aussie hip hop community?
WVS has already done so much for the artists on their roster, plus doing things like Next Gen and Big Swell. I think we need more independent labels doing the same things WVS is doing for artists in Australia. Getting other artists together and giving them the chance to perform on one stage together and connect with each other.
Which other up and coming hip hop artists do you think should be on everyone’s radar?
West Sydney is slowly getting its own scene now, and I think the rappers you need to watch in 2018 are RBT (Biggs & Big Ty), Freesouls, Enzo & Pistol Pete, Cult Shotta, Hooligan Hef$, Isaac Puerile, and of course, your boy.
Tell us about what you’ll be doing next!
I’m working on lining up gigs for this year, while working on a mixtape and visuals for bigger projects. I’m trying to keep it hush for now until they drop, so stay tuned!
Head along to WVS‘ first annual NEXT GEN Live Showcase, featuring 11 of the best up and coming hip hop artists from around Australia.
25 Jan, The Evelyn Hotel, Fitzroy.
Tickets are FREE! For more information, or to RSVP, click HERE.
Plust special guests:
Kwasi x HFNR