After a lengthy absence from the Hip-Hop scene female rappers are now becoming all the rage. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Contrived artists are popping up all over the place following trends that aren’t worthy to be followed to begin with. Thankfully there are also artists that are doing their own thing.
Yasko, born Emily Yaskowitz, is one of those artists. Raised in Ohio and residing Arizona, Yasko simply raps about what she knows. Early in 2012 Yasko released a free project titled Flight Risk. Flight Risk is a collection of catchy songs that display Yasko’s love for emceeing in addition to her taste for Pop music.
I recently spoke to Yasko about Flight Risk, her musical influences, her goals in the music industry, and her plans for 2013.
SS: For those that don’t know, who is Yasko?
Yasko: Yasko is your favorite white girl rapper. I’m just a rapper making music–yeah.
SS: How’d you start rapping?
Yasko: I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger and after hearing Eminem something switched inside me. I fell in love with rap and the way words were put together. I started to do it myself about four years ago.
SS: So you’d say Eminem is your inspiration?
Yasko: Yeah he was probably my biggest inspiration. Obviously I’m inspired by other rappers and other music. I’m inspired by bands like Queen, Jay-Z, basically everything. Los is my favorite rapper right now.
SS: Who is Los?
Yasko: He just signed with P Diddy. He’s from Baltimore. He’s awesome.
SS: Alright. Why’d you title your last release Flight Risk?
Yasko: It’s all about me wanting to leave where I’m from and do something. I might just get up and leave one day. I might just quit my job and leave my family. At the time that’s what I was feeling and what I wanted to do. I still do. I’m just at the studio at my house making more music, but I’ve always felt like any second I would snap, leave, tour, and do whatever I want to do with music.
SS: You kind of make it sound like a negative thing but it doesn’t sound bad to me.
Yasko: It doesn’t sound bad. It’s not a negative thing, it’s definitely not. It’s positive. I guess it’s just I take the perspective of my family and friends. They would think it’s a bad thing, “She just got up and quit her job. What’s she going to do?” Well what am I not going to do? I want to do everything. You know what I mean?
SS: Do you feel like your job is holding you back?
Yasko: At the moment, no. I just have a part-time job on the side. I make music at my house. I have a studio here so I just kind of do my own thing.
SS: What’s in your studio?
Yasko: I record with a Blue Spark microphone and Focusrite Pro preamp and I record onto a Mac with Studio One software.
SS: Do you make beats or do you get producers to help you out?
Yasko: I don’t make the beats. I get them from different producers.
SS: Listening to you reminds me of a story that Rhymefest once told. He said he was a janitor in a school in Indianapolis and somebody took a sh*t all over the wall. He said he quit that day and rapping became his full-time job. His point was, you have to go all-in. You can’t have one foot in the rap world and one foot in the real world.
Yasko: Oh my God! Definitely! At the moment I’m talking to some different labels right now. I’m just laying low and doing what I’m doing. I’m making music and networking. I went from two hundred followers on Twitter two or three months ago and now I have close to seven thousand. I’ve definitely been on my networking game and that’s with no money and no promotion. I don’t have any money to pay someone to get followers for me. That’s just all grind.
SS: Would you say social networking is the most important thing for you right now?
Yasko: It is. It wasn’t for a long time but you have to adapt. Everything is online right now. Part of me wants to go to California or New York but I have the ability to get my music and my message all over the country and all over the world through the internet. You can be the greatest rapper in the world or the best musician but if no one knows about you it doesn’t matter. I try to stay up on my networking game. I didn’t want to do it for the longest time. I thought it was some bullsh*t but if you’re going to do it you have to do it. Anybody who is making noise in the industry right now is on Twitter and Facebook. That’s probably 50% of it; the other 50% is doing the actual music. It should definitely be a huge chunk of it for anybody who is trying to come up.
SS: Tell me about the single ‘She Said’.
Yasko: That was a song by a guy named Plan B. He’s real big in the UK, he’s a famous dude. I heard it one day and thought it would be awesome to sample. I asked one of the producers I know overseas if he could chop it up for me. He kept the chorus and did the beat and it was just so catchy to me. In my head a story started emerging. Everyone can relate to it. You’re at a party drinking and saying a lot of things you don’t mean, telling people you love them and want to hook up with them and the next day you wake up and are like, “Who are you? I don’t remember talking to you.”
SS: How would you classify the Yasko sound?
Yasko: I would say it’s catchy. It’s kind of organic. The beats I chose to rap over aren’t real big beats. To me they’re more laid back. It’s my lyrics and voice that I want to come through over anything else. I’d say it’s just very lyrical.
SS: Is it difficult for you to walk the line between being sexy and being taken serious as an emcee?
Yasko: I don’t think it’s difficult at all. I think if anything sexiness, confidence, and being who you are go hand in hand. I don’t think I could be sexy if I didn’t know what I was talking about. Sexiness and confidence comes with rapping and it all comes together and amplifies itself.
SS: What’s your ultimate goal in the music industry?
Yasko: My ultimate goal is to be able to live off music. To be able to do it full-time, and not have to have a day job, to be able to do what I want and do little tours. It’s not about being frivolous or anything. It’s about having a nice following and having people that support and buy your music and your message and like what you’re saying and what you’re doing.
SS: What’s on deck for 2013?
Yasko: On deck is a mixtape that I’m just starting to work on. I have a few songs already. I don’t know if you know Chilla Jones but he’s a battle rapper and he’s going to be featured on it. I’m working on that, networking, talking to people, and talking to some labels as well. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Download: Yasko – Flight Risk