“Real” doesn’t quite make the cut for an adjective when listening to music from upcoming Philly emcee, Jody Yobro. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he was raised in two of Philly’s most notorious hoods- The Bottom, Elmwood- and he has the experiences to vividly illustrate his work.
His first single, “Therapy” is the first display of his storytelling abilities, the first offer of his genius, to the public. The song, weaved with anecdotal prose, speaks to the artist’s ability to use wordplay to his advantage. He’s extremely personal with his words to the point where much of his rapping seems soliloquous.
Jody Yobro casts no veneer over any of the experiences he spits about, moving crowds with his lyricism in tandem with his unquenchable passion on the stage. In this short interview, we find out about his influences, where he wants to take his music, and what he has to say to young spitters who use the pen to do more than write.
Q: You grew up in a few parts of Philly. Which area do you think molded you the most?
A: I grew up in Southwest and West, specifically Elmwood and The Bottom. I’d say Elmwood molded me the most because, honestly, Elmwood is a struggle community. It’s like everybody has their own struggle. We was all broke. When you grow up like that, all you wanna do is get out. You realize it’s a trap.
Q: What was high school like for you?
A: Bartram is directly in the middle of Elmwood so everybody in the neighborhood goes to Bartram. Things were cool for me because I knew everyone and I got off easy with sports and rapping.
Q: Where did you gain your knack for wordplay?
A: 8th grade, No Ceilings came out. So much wordplay. Punchlines. Whole scheme. I
listened to No Ceilings the whole summer going into high school.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: I started writing 8th grade summer. I wrote little songs, but never anything I was
Q: Did you write as a result of anything? Was writing a proactive action or was it a response to things going on?
A: I’d say I used it as a response. I felt like, “as of right now I need to look cool.” I went to a co ed middle school where the girls were separated from the boys. That was Pepper. When you did see the girls you had to wil’. Always had a way with words.
Look what I can do. Never used it to compensate.
Q: Who are your lyrical influences and who are your musical influences (i.e; who influences how you spit and who influences what you spit on) Why?
A: Lyrical influences- ‘09 Lil Wayne, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar- the way he puts emotions in his songs. His demeanor. People can feel it when he raps and I want that. I want people to feel it. My older influences are Reasonable Doubt Hov, Ready to Die Biggie- blows my mind. Biggie’s storytelling is honestly ridiculous, Illmatic blows my mind every listen.
Q: Is Illmatic the greatest album of all time?
A: Yes, I honestly believe that. I’ll debate it with anyone, anytime. Illmatic is the greatest.
Q: What things in your life influence your writing? Which things do you rap about from experience and what do you rap about from just writing?
A: As of right now, I’m going through a change in my music. I wanna rap about my come up, but I also wanna rap about everyone’s come up. I wanna reach everyone on a personal level.
Q: When you started rapping, what was your goal? For your fans, for your audience, for yourself?
A: It was “hey listen to me rap.” Like an, “I can do this,” situation. Definitely more for show than anything else.
Q: What’s your goal now? Where do you want to take your music? What’s your ideal fanbase? Do you want to tour?
A: Now, I got something. I knew how to put words together but I didn’t know how to rap. I definitely wanna tour at some point. If I could tour, I would start at venues and tour with my squad and the people I came up with. I definitely wanna tour though. I wanna produce, too, I just gotta practice and put time in. If I’m good at it, I may as well go all out.
Q: What do you have to say for young kids who are coming from where you’re coming from who use writing like you do?
A: When it comes to art, if you’re gonna do it, go all out. Because if you don’t go all out you’ll have a blank piece of paper. No matter how many words you have on it it’ll still be blank. Gotta go all out.
19 year old Jody Yobro’s got a long path ahead of him- and he doesn’t plan on stopping. His first single, “Therapy” gained almost 5,ooo plays on the night of it’s release. His fanbase stretches across the Philadelphia area and he has small pockets of followers spread around the country through networking and mutual friendships. He’ll be at showcases around the city this spring, helping enrich his talents on the stage. Stay tuned for a new freestyle over the classic “All About the Benjamins,” dropping tonight at 10:30 pm.
Bio: Stephanie Dyson is a young freelance journalist and photographer in the Philadelphia area.