In this installment of Our Stories, Rap artist and producer, Yared Taylor expresses the rhythm and lyrics behind his art on his journey to music …For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food, and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience…this is Our Stories!

We all know the saying, “We likkle but we Tallawah” but what does it really mean to us? Jamaica is known for its music whether it’s skanking on a beat to Bob Marley, Chronixx and Protoje or becoming swayed with the crowds of flairy, fling and even skip to my lou. Outside of our popular music genres, Dancehall and Reggae, Jamaica has another genre that is making its way to the hearts of the Jamaican youth, Rap music. Rap is often similar to what we know as deejaying but in many ways, it is not the same. And there are a few people who are responsible for making its little presence in our island become bolder and louder.

Meet Yared Taylor

He is a 19-year-old musician and producer who is currently attending the University of the West Indies. Though Rap music is a predominantly American genre, Yared has paved a way for his stance in rap music here in Jamaica. He takes pride in mixing and incorporating Jamaican Creole into his songs. A son of music himself, Yared Taylor has continued to pursue his music and remains in touch with his Jamaican roots.

What inspired you to begin making music?

One of my biggest music influences was my father but when I got older I began to listen to other music. I was 11 years old at the time and had seen Jaden Smith begin rapping at 12 years old so I believed that if he could do that then I could do it as well. I started rapping in first and second form occasionally while being very influenced by the work of Tyler the Creator. Though what made me more consistent was the support of the people around me. When I was in third form, after Manning Cup season, I had met Iotosh who was attending Munroe College at the time. He had a few unfinished songs and I had a few unfinished songs so we collaborated on making a couple songs which was a catalyst in motivating me to venture further into music.

How did your father influence you to venture into music?

As a child, I loved listening to my father’s music, not because it was forced on me but because I genuinely loved his sound. I loved listening to him play the guitar and sing. Even though I didn’t have the best singing voice, my father introduced me to deejaying and rapping which helped me to like it even more…

[raps] “My name is Yared, me come fi run di place. Have a bag a lyrics me seh in my head, listen to the words that my father said, me all mek lyrics when me inna my bed”

…were lyrics I remembered writing on one of my father’s songs at a very young age. From this moment, I knew that I could actually do something within this musical path.

How does it feel when you produce music?

I’m not really talkative and I don’t always get the chance to express my emotions so I am usually quiet. People sometimes think I am not the brightest but when I start to write, you can see that there is so much more to me than just the surface. It makes me feel good. I feel happy, it’s amazing and as if there is a way that I can express myself. In the same light, not just myself but observe my environment and speak on things that are going on with other people within my surroundings as well.

What have you learned on your musical journey?
I’ve learned that patience is a very important thing and you shouldn’t rush the process. One day I was at Stone’s Throw bar and I met Protoje and Runkus. The advice they gave was essential in my opinion, that you shouldn’t rush the music or force it; just let it flow naturally because it’s better when it comes naturally. I’ve also learned that words have power and that some energies that you put into the music, will and can come back to you.

What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve experienced in the music industry?
One of the biggest challenges is being accepted. In the climate of Jamaica, as it relates to males, not many people are used to males expressing themselves so a lot of my music would be seen as ‘soft’. Every man a ‘gyalis’ but I’m not like that and not much people are interested in that. I pride myself on speaking on issues of racism or classism as well as other matters within the different cultures in our island, which not everyone would understand or get instantly.

But internally, one of my biggest issues with myself was that at first, I didn’t like how my voice sounded when I rap because of my tone. Compared to my peers and my father, I think my voice isn’t sonically the best but I had to accept my sound and ended up using my voice to my advantage. I believe my cadence is amazing, I love my Jamaican accent because it allows me to transition from rapping and deejaying seamlessly, which helped me to move more towards deejaying. Deejaying allowed me to be more able to incorporate Patois more. It opened up a wider range of ways in which I could express myself through music.

Also, since my music isn’t Dancehall, people aren’t very open to it at first and are quick to shun it. They claim that you won’t reach very far. There’s a whole stigma against change, people are often used to things being done in a traditional way so they are a bit iffy about the music first but I know after a while they’ll open up to the idea of it.

How do you tackle the stigma against popular music?
A balance of Art and Business. As much as art is a form of expression, people also have to support their families. In doing so, you have to take certain measures to ensure that your work is legitimate and set in such a way that you can profit adequately. I personally am interested in copyrighting and ensuring that the distribution is done properly as well as being able to understand the clause and loopholes in all my future documents and contracts. I’m currently studying at UWI to attain my Bachelors in Science and Economics because even though music is about self-expression and it’s art, you also have to do it formally in order to have a firm foundation and make a living.

Why choose to study business instead of attending Art School?
I didn’t choose to attend art school because I prefer to teach myself…because I want to work off my own time, have some creative freedom..also because I know I can teach myself, especially in music. I made the choice to study business because music is expression, it comes naturally but the business aspect is one to be learnt. In the music industry overall, you have to be business-minded because there are a lot of bad dealings in music and I don’t want to fall victim to being swindled.

What limitations do you think are in the music industry?
We’re in an age of globalisation. The Internet can serve as a link to gaining a broader fan base outside of the Caribbean as the Internet is really powerful. It connects everyone. So one of the limitations would be distributing and managing the music as well as the business aspect. Music is very informal in Jamaica and not managed as best as it could be. I believe that money management within and outside the music industry needs to be taught and understood by the people of Jamaica and black people on a whole.

What has helped you to cope the most with obstacles?
Aside from the advice from my parents, it’s been music and God. A lot of self- evaluation as well through music as music is therapy. It helps to get in touch with a lot of things that you might be feeling and help to understand what it is that you’re feeling. I used to overthink a lot but then I began analysing while I was overthinking which helped me to understand what was going on with myself along with the music.

What is your vision for your craft?

I want to enjoy what it is that I am doing. I want to do things differently and aside from making a name for myself, I want to make music that people can relate to. Music that people can feel. I’ll sing about parties and love, it’s fun but I still try to leave a message of substance for the people. I want to help not only myself but the persons around me as well, to be able to turn new money into old money.
I want to ensure that everyone around me is okay financially and not to be rich but to be comfortable enough to help alleviate the pressures of lives of the people around me wherever I go.

What message do you have for the young musicians?
Try to have integrity in your music, it is essential. Be honest and authentic, don’t allow yourself to conform to what the majority might like especially if it’s not who you are. Keep going for it. Sometimes it might be hard but the harder it is, the more it’s worth it. You also have to be patient with yourself because you may not be the best at something but it doesn’t mean you should stop, it just means you should always try to improve yourself. You should always try to learn as much as you can and use your knowledge wisely. But most importantly, love what you’re doing and love Jah, trust that everything will work out because God is the key at the end of the day.

Thanks for sharing your story Yared! Listen to Yared’s music on SoundCloud and follow him on Instagram.

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