New York City-based rapper Yonas, best known for his remix of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks," let Fuse tag along during a recent tour stop in upstate New York. As he visited a tattoo parlor and prepped for a show later that night, the rapper talked to us about signing to 1st Round Records, Tupac's influence and how he managed to record four albums in two and a half years. The highlights:
On being an underground rapper: "There are no rules to the game when you're in the underground. It's just a lot of hard work. You play five different roles. You're your own manager and promoter until you have the fan base behind you. You're your own producer to some degree. You got to write the music. You got to publicize it. Everything. It's a lot of practice, it's a lot of work and there's no magic potion. I seriously sit and write for nine to 10 hours a day."
On being inspired by Tupac: "He took strife and turned it into hopefulness. People who took a broken situation and tried to make it look beautiful and give it meaning. That's what made me want to do music."
On the success of his "Pumped Up Kicks" remix: When it hit a million (on YouTube), it was just crazy because it happened in about two months. People really appreciated it. I didn't expect it. I thought people would question it. It's crazy.
On the first person he called after signing to 1st Round Records: My mother! I gave her a lot of stresses in life, so it was good for me to finally give her a relief.
For more, check out the full interview above.