Interview with Giftedyoungstaz (@giftedyoungstaz)


Interview with Giftedyoungstaz (@giftedyoungstaz)

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My interest in rap developed a later in life than most, it wasn’t until I was 18 that I grew to enjoy it. I grew up with a father that would spew anti-black sentiments often and because of his prejudice I was unable to explore hip hop and rap for most of my formative years. Shortly after I moved out I fell in love with rap, started writing my own and not too long after that started recording. Everyone I showed my recordings to gave me positive feedback so I kept doing it. I more or less did this for about 7 years, learning how to produce my own beats in the process, and was a big fan of the local Seattle scene. I would go to a lot of shows and make connections with the people I met there. While never intending to be a serious rappper eventually some of the connections I had made asked me to perform for the first time. That performance led to another, and another, and within a year I was getting booked at some of the more reputable venues in my city. Opportunities led to more opportunities and doors continued to open for me. Many of the rappers I met on the entry levels of performing and starting their careers questioned why I was having so much success getting bookings and other opportunities. I had the realization that the desires I had in my mind were almost always becoming reality, if I had the thought that I wanted to play at a specific venue, the stars would align and the venue would reach out to me. Almost as if the universe was listening to my thoughts and answering them. This then started to apply to other areas of rap outside of performing. I had the thought, I want to make a song with RA Scion from Common Market and within the month we had met and began a project together. After watching “Rhythym and Flow” I thought, ” I can beat these rappers, I want to be on a reality show too.” Within a few months I was locked in
house in Atlanta with 9 other rappers doing just that. Dreams were becoming reality on so many levels. Through that I started to believe that I had something special to my art and that I may have a future doing this. When I first started writing the only goal I had was “don’t suck at it, prove you are competent” and now my goal is to do and be something great, and I think I have a decent shot of doing it.

Can you share the most interest in exciting happened to you since you started doing this?

“There’s been a number of them. The reality show in Atlanta was definitely one of them, but I’m on NDA for that.

Growing up I was a big fan of a Seattle rap group called Common Market and idolized their frontman, RA Scion. Common Market had been to some of the greatest heights relative to other Seattle groups and is widely regarded as one of the best rap groups in Seattle history. They broke up in 2009 and 10 years later RA Scion decided to do a 10 year anniversary tour. At this point in time I was opening for national acts at more prestigious venues and had just booked my first show as a headliner at a smaller venue. When I showed up for the headlining show I was talking to some of the bar staff when out of the corner of my eye I see none other than RA Scion walk in. I immediately ran over to him and told him how big of a fan I was and how long I had been listening. RA looked at me and said, “”I’ve been keeping an eye on you for a while now, I think you’re dope, I want to do a Common Market reunion tour and I want you to open. I want you to be on stage with me backing up my vocals and I want to make a project with you.”” I was floored. I always had confidence issues and to have my idol looking me dead in the eye telling me I’m dope made it a lot harder to doubt myself from that point on. The idea of getting to be on stage with him helping him perform songs that I grew up listening to was also unbelievable. As an up an coming emcee you might find getting to open for a group you love as a possibility, but getting to actually perform those songs with him was something that never even crossed my mind as possible. I had a great time working with RA and we grew to be close friends. We dropped our project “”TRUE||FORM”” in September of 2019 after a 2 week intensive writing process. RA has since been a tremendous source of wisdom and inspiration. When I feel down on my talents he’s always there to remind me I’ve got something special. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor and collaborator than him.”

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?

As a creative I think it’s important to try and be productive every day but not to force anything if its not flowing. When I’m at my best I feel as if I am channeling another consciousness, almost as if it is not me behind the pen. It’s important to try and be creative every day in hopes you are able to tune in and channel that energy, but if it’s not coming I set my notebook aside for another day.

None of us can succeed without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There’s been a lot but I’d like to mention my friend and engineer Sendai Mike. I had known Mike in school for most of my life but we became good friends at ages 18 and 19 when my love for hip hop was developing. Mike introduced me to a lot of new music when I was initially getting interested in rapping and having a bit of experience with some beginner music hardware and software he helped me make my first beat and do my very first vocal recording. It was pretty rough; we were rapping into the small mic hole on an old Apple laptop and edited everything on garage band. While Gifted Youngstaz is currently a solo act, the original Gifted Youngstaz was actually a crew and Sendai Mike was one of the rappers in it. We went to different cities for college, Mike being in Seattle and he entered the rap scene here with his group Sendai Era and became well connected. When I ended up moving to Seattle it was Mike who got me plugged in with the local rap scene that I would follow for years before deciding to try my hand at performing. Mike and I ended up becoming roomates in 2017 and he started a small recording studio in his bedroom that local rappers would often visit for their projects as Mike was clearly extremely gifted as an engineer. At this point in time I was going through a depression and Mike was always there to support me. After I was in what could have been a fatal car accident I decided I wanted to take advantage of my love for rap and living with an engineer and asked Mike to record me. That resulted in a song called “Stimulants” which to this day is considered as my finest work. It was the first song I made that I was really proud of and gave me the courage to share it with the people I had met in the rap scene and start building my name. Mike eventually opened a commercial location for his recording studio and was quickly recognized by many as of the best engineers in the city. Whether I could afford it or not, Mike always made sure I was able to record. The times where I felt guilty for not being able to pay Mike would tell me, “you’re my longest running, most consistent friend, I wouldn’t even be an engineer if I hadn’t met you, this place wouldn’t exist if we never got together to make those songs on garage band when we were teenagers.” Having someone that could turn my visions into quality pieces of work has been the building block of my entire career and that all started with Sendai Mike.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

A good friend of mine once said, “If you feel like you are struggling or not happy with where you are in your music career just start helping as many people as possible.” For me that means trying to find the right opportunities to put other people on. Whether that was running my own recurring event and booking and promoting other artists, featuring others on my songs and during my live performances, sending their music to and mentioning their names when speaking with influential people I just know that the journey is a lot more fun if you bring others with you.

Do you have a favorite “written Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? 

“””When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.””

This quote from “”The Alchemist”” speaks to the fact that life is made interesting and worthwhile by having a dream and working for it. In most other areas of my life I’ve been met with rejection and failure but finding my passion and purpose in rap has been a course in the miracles of manifestation. In finding what I want to do with my life the universe has listened to my thoughts and consistently answered my prayers by rewarding my efforts. So many of the goals I’ve had in music were acheieved through a string of what felt like accidental, unlikey situations and connections that have led me to believe I’m being guided by something bigger than myself. Its felt too uncanny to simply be a result of just happening to be in the right place at the right time.

How can our readers follow you on social media? 

My instagram is @giftedyoungstaz and I’m also active on YouTube and Spotify as Gifted Youngstaz

Anything specific you’d like to have mentioned in the article? 

Special thanks to Angelica Resurreccion, Akira Gautama, Jake Miller, and Sam Lewis and everyone that’s been listening over the years.