Queens-raised lyricist and OurStage artist Yak Ballz is making NYC proud by showing he’s got the talent and…er, cajones to take on the rap game. After releasing his first record in 2000, Yak Ballz found himself being courted by El-P, alternative hip-hop king and owner of Definitive Jux (which is home to artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Aesop Rock). Since then, Yak Ballz has established himself as one of the emerging voices of independent hip-hop.
Q: Why do you think you are doing well on OurStage?
A: I think my music, when given the chance, is too original to go unnoticed. Fortunately for me, most visitors of Ourstage.com are looking for good music and mine has managed to stand out as a result of their votes.
Q: Favorite thing about the site?
A: The artist profile template. I like how it’s formatted. Super organized, user friendly and appealing.
Q: What’s your coolest moment with a fan?
A: In Kansas City, when a war veteran soldier who was around my age took off his titanium prosthetic leg for me to sign. It was a powerful moment and one of my most memorable with a fan.
Q: What do you think the internet has done to change music?
A: The internet has made music accessible on an international scale. It’s also made record sales drop at an alarming rate. For Independent artists like myself, income is made from shows and merch because the availability of music on the net affecting record sales so negatively leaves us no other choice.
Q: What is your biggest fear?
A: That my art will never get the recognition I feel it deserves.
Q: Coolest moment performing?
A: Playing the Abbey Pub in Chicago, and crowd surfing over a sold out screaming audience.
Q: If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
A: Rage Against the Machine, but Gym Class Heroes would probably be a good look right now.
Q: What do you think makes you stand out from your competition?
A: I credit myself for being a great performer where a lot of hip hop artists aren’t. I try to let it all hang out on stage.
Q: And the name? … please explain where you got Yak Balls!
A: I used to intern and work for a urban boutique and record store in the east village of NY called Bobbito’s Footwork in the late 90’s. It was owned by famed DJ and radio host Bobbito Garcia, who would later put out my first 12 inch on Fondle’em records. Footwork was a place NY graffiti writers would congregate. I befriended them as they frequented the store. I told them my real name was Yash. My real name was unacceptable in their world if I was to be a part of it so they called me started calling me Yak. Bobbito had a radio show with DJ Stretch Armstrong and the two of them would shout me out on the radio and put the word “balls” at the end as a joke. “Yak Ballz” ended up sticking and Bobbito would leave me answering machine messages at Footwork telling me what I needed to get done and calling me Yak Ballz. Everyone got a kick out of it and would replay the
messages. It was a joke that never got old I guess.