From the East to the West Coast, the lyrical rapper That Yung Lad tells an in-depth story with his latest single, "Flowers." "Music is my first love and my last love," That Yung Lad states. TYL always strives to inspire others within his music, bringing old school excitement into the modern-day scene while continually having a positive influence on his audience.
Releasing a blunt and honest storyline with his latest single "Flowers," this is genuinely the perfect introduction track when getting to know That Yung Lad and his unique concepts. With sweet old school and minimalistic production, we're perfectly able to dive straight into TYL's relentless lyricism. "Flowers" surrounds the story of a man delivering his postmortem thoughts; TYL narrates this story in which he engages listeners by reciting intense lyricism towards a damaged relationship. The track opens in an incredibly peaceful manner, with soft piano melodies and a toe-tapping beat.
That Yung Lad's vocal performance resembles that of an early J. Cole and MGK, enchanting our ears with crisp and raw delivery. With bars like, "I want no flowers when I'm gone, only got 'em for yourself cause you're feeling bad baby," TYL brings vast honesty and in an exceptionally unique and poetic way.
It's difficult to ignore such immense talent when we see it. That Yung Lad not only encompasses this but defies boundaries in Hip-Hop with tracks like "Flowers" that shakes the listener's mind and provokes needed reflection.
We have "Flowers" on repeat; everything from the minimalistic old school beat to your intense lyricism intrigues us. How did you come up with the track's direct storyline?
Oddly enough, I came up with this storyline after the death of Kobe and specifically after being at a bar down at LA Live during the first Lakers game following his death. I went with a good friend and we hung out at the memorial, saw the flowers and gifts that die-hard fans had left, then ended up hanging at a bar and having a few drinks as we watched the game. This was an insanely emotional night as you may imagine, with everyone there being more than just a Lakers fan, but a Kobe fan. I myself am not even a Lakers fan. I thought a lot about death in the following days after that game. I wondered who would leave flowers for me whenever it's my time to go. I then went to a more negative place and specifically thought about the folks that I wouldn't want to be there. From there the song came out and it ended up as a message to those who never really had my best intentions in mind, kind of like a nice way to say "fuck you." Overall though, I do believe the storyline is positive because I'm talking about how I'm at peace with the way any friendship or relationship has gone in the past. This storyline isn't directed at a single person, but probably around 15-25 people.
When creating the sonics for "Flowers," how did you go about blending nostalgic old school elements with modern-day production? Do you try and remain old school, or are you experimental in that realm?
I do like to pay homage to the old school and I try to channel that mentality in my music, but not on every song. I'm very inspired by all rap (and music) regardless of era or time period, but I do have a soft spot for that old school feel. This leads me to experiment on songs and trying "non-traditional" things out as well. My favorite time period for rap is around 1994-1998 so I do think my love for that specific time comes out on every song in one way or another. For "Flowers" the whole beat is inspired by a McCoy Tyner Trio song and sample, that's where the old school elements really stem from off the bat. I had heard a similar beat that had initially inspired me to write "Flowers" that I then took to the next level with my producer and good friend Notez Musik. I found a local pianist, Kenstramentalz, in Los Angeles to take the sample in his own direction and was so happy with what he came up with. I sent those keys over to Notez who created a drum pattern to complement it and the rest is history. It was truly Notez who was able to bring in that modern-day production with his skills and Ken who brought the soul on the keys. From there, the lyrics I was able to write overlays it well because, to me, the flow and style say "old-school", but the lyrics and rawness say "new-school." Writing your bars for "Flowers" must have been an intense process. What was it like writing such grim yet honest lyrics, and what helped you channel these thoughts during the process?
I may have answered a bit of this question in my response to question 1, but there is more I can say. So the death of Kobe was the spark in writing this song and that helped me channel my emotions into words. I always had these feelings deep down somewhere, but I had no way of getting them out. I became really reflective due to the powerful outpour following his death. Adding on to that, I live in Los Angeles, and being down there at LA Live the first game back basically doubled down on all those emotions. I thought about what would happen when I die as I'm sure many folks have thought in the past. I went from thinking about the people who would be at my funeral because they cared about me, to thinking about the folks who are disingenuous and would show up just to save face. This thought may seem negative, but it was very positive for me. There is no love lost in my mind with the folks who I've either lost touch with or lost relationships with. This song became something of my own anthem for being at peace with it all. The process of writing the song was enjoyable, in the moment I didn't really understand what I was writing, I just was typing away. Exuding all these feelings not only made me happy, but it helped me understand myself better. I also wrote only the first half of the song and chorus shortly after the death of Kobe. I wrote the second verse after Notez sent me back the finished beat. That was about 2 months after I wrote the first half. With what he was able to do with that beat, I just wrote away as I listened to it on repeat and finished the second verse. It really just came to me. At the end of the day, music is a major thing that allows me to channel my thoughts and emotions. To add to this, sometimes I write things that I don't even fully understand. I believe a lot of artists and songwriters do that, I believe sometimes your subconscious is coming through the pen. After writing this song I did a lot of self-growth and learned that, for me, certain types of passive behavior really bother me. As I reflect on this song, so many of the folks the lyrics are directed at engaging in those types of passive behavior.
Seeing as you've moved from the East Coast to the West, what sort of impact has this made on your music and sound? Would you say that your music captures aspects of both places?
I do believe that my music captures aspects of both the East and West coast. However, being raised and living in New Jersey until I was about 24 means the East Coast will always be a part of me at my core. I believe when you listen to my music, the first thing you hear is that I'm from the East Coast somewhere, most likely New York-ish (I was raised about 35 minutes outside NYC in NJ). There is a roughness and/or rawness to my voice and how I go about presenting myself. The mentality is what has left the biggest impact on me. Where I come from, you go after what you want unapologetically and you strive to always be better. You don't wait for someone to give you permission, you just do what you need to do to capture your vision. That's not to say that isn't the mentality in LA, but NY and LA are two very different places when it comes to the general mentality. I think anyone who has lived in both places would tell you that. Folks on the East Coast are more intense, folks on the West Coast are more laid back. Personally I think for mental health, the East Coast could learn a lot from the West Coast's approach to life. The rawness of the East Coast certainly has impacted my music. Some of (but not all of) my favorite rappers are Nas and Kendrick Lamar, so it's interesting to draw so much inspiration from two coastal legends. They're both similar in terms of their lyrical prowess, but so different in their style and approach. At the end of the day, I want to channel my inner intensity, rawness, and passion for my music. All those things happen on both coasts, they just happen in different ways. I have to also say, the laid-back "chill" nature of the West Coast has rubbed off on me and I can feel it in my beat selection most specifically. I've openly asked myself if I could have ever written my song "One Day" off my debut album without having moved out here. Without a doubt both Coasts have impacted me, I'd just give the edge to the East since that is where I'm from.
What is one goal that you'd like to achieve by the end of the year?
I started off the year wanting to grow my catalog. I have a lot of songs on Soundcloud, most of which are remixes, but my issue was what listeners would see when they went to the major DSPs. My goal was to release about 18 songs or a full album by 2021 and I'm really happy to have released my debut album "TYL the Wheels Fall Off" on August 28 on all platforms. My goal now is to release another 3-5 singles before January 2021 and continue to grow my catalog.