Yaya Jonez is no stranger to the unfortunate tales that plague the Black community. Oldest of three children born to a single-teenage mother, he assumed the role of the man of the house with no examples to look to other than the men he surrounded himself with on the Westside of Saint Louis. An area plagued by poverty, violence and drugs, Yaya surely became indulged in that lifestyle. Regardless of his environment, his mother taught him the importance of a relationship with Christ and fellowship within a church at an early age. Little did he know that a seed was planted in him, even in the midst of street-life.
Even though Yaya developed a brotherhood within the streets, it was not enough as he still developed a void. “The rappers and the street gangs were the only places I saw cats come together as black men.” Writing in his journal, became an escape and a way to put a voice to thoughts. As he experienced more, it gave him more to write about. One day while writing, Yaya heard a still voice that said, “share it.”
He spent the next year creating a project titled The Bridge and after getting feedback from his barber, Will, he decided to answer the call of making music.
Titled “The Bridge” due to his style of music being described as “New York rhyming meets Midwest rhythm and Mississippi passion.”
His mission is to transcend culture barriers and to spark conversations across cultures to help empathize with each other better.
Yaya considers his music special due to his method of delivery: political, street, and hopeful. His language allows him to speak to an audience of striving people who haven’t been spoken to in a while. The type of audience that values honesty, completion, and success- in that order.
The message Yaya hopes to convey in his music is simply hope. As long as there’s breath in you, God’s working on you, period. That’s something to be happy about. “ Yaya believes its important to boast the values of self acceptance and excellence. He proudly boast, “Our father is the king! Enjoy that royalty!”
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
YAYA JONEZ: I did most of my living in St. Louis, Missouri. But due to financial difficulties growing up, I lived back and forth in Michigan and California. My mom sent me to live with family to enjoy myself while she hustled for months at a time. That went on from the age of 5 to 13-years-old .
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
YAYA JONEZ: Moms kept me in choir and my cousins kept me rapping! I’m a solid tenor from a Missionary Baptist Church. I was a solo vocalist since the age of seven after being heard at a church retreat camp. I sang “I wish” by Carl Thomas at the age of 11. Lol! I also had opera training by Dello Thedford in Saint Louis when I was in high school. I foolishly gave that up because I thought opera was for lames. My rapping was formed by writing and mimicking my older cousins at my Grandma Boobee house. I wrote my first rap at about 9 years old.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
YAYA JONEZ: My songs are like scripts of me trying to work out my hood habits, life issues and spiritual struggles at the same time. I tell my story honestly. Some may think I’m just breaking the rules. I write to myself a lot so I can come back and analyze my thought process. My rule is “Just go” no deleting.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your favorite song to perform and why?
YAYA JONEZ: So far my favorite song to perform is Progress! The hook yells “Growth, Pain, Pressure, Change…. Its all part of the game.!” Fans chant it with me. For me It’s like we all get to share a moment of vulnerability. It takes a lot for a person to openly say, “Hey I’ve been hurt and under the gun before. Pass or fail I’m moving on.” We make “Progress” together!
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What has surprised you the most in the pursuit of a career in music?
YAYA JONEZ: The thing that has surprised me most is how much I actually enjoy it. How I’ve handle it. Over time I realized how textbook the music business is! I’m a business geek so it just makes sense to me. There are some kinks, but the flow is picking up.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
YAYA JONEZ: I love some contemporary Jazz! My God! Michael Franks, Al Jarraeu, I get some tempo from neo soul too. A sip of hip-hop for me is Jay Z, DMX, old 8ball&MJG. I’m weird. I grew up listening to music with old heads and people 30 to 40-years-old my senior.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
YAYA JONEZ: It’s bridge music. It’s the music you want to hear when you’re striving for growth but everything around you is fighting for you to stay the same. Things keep pulling you back! I cover struggles of fatherhood, a hustler and God! I’m all three!
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
YAYA JONEZ: My musical values are just different. I love what music means, but I know how to bounce. Bouncing is what’s up but I can’t live without a good groove. All of that comes out! On top of that I’m just honestly me. Like me, love it or learn from it. I am a street cat with a God thing for God.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What would you like to see changed in today’s music industry?
YAYA JONEZ: I would like to see the artist expand their skill set throughout the industry. I want the industry to create or support more platforms to consistently showcase that skill set. Or I will create it. The words from an artist face makes the culture shake! I want to see the artist respected as a whole because I act, rap, teach and learn. I want a chance to express it all. Let me out the rapper box.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects that you are currently working on?
YAYA JONEZ: A lot! I don’t think people understand what independent means. ‘ “You do it all!” Right now I just started recording my 1st album The Bridge 2, We’re closing up my own TV show aired on Charter. I’m wrapping up The Onez clothing line for launch. I have a lot of stuff coming to head finally. And the shows don’t stop. Festivals and other gigs in the meantime keep me polished as I switch hats. God had me in hibernation for like 2 years just creating and tweaking my vision. I’m ready now.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
YAYA JONEZ: My goal is to jailbreak people’s minds and make us rich doing it! God uses me to inspire the young and energize the struggle. Before music I always provided resources and education to people. Getting money will just ensure that on a more grand scale.
Ten years from now I should be the one with the money and power to facilitate for the fire starters of my lane. I want to create the next generation of bosses and Gods, and how them the left and right of the music business.
I’ll build art centers and festivals. I want to create ground roots at home kind of stuff. I want my career to feel like Barry Gordy and Jay Z meeting Jesus and Ice Cube at a Boosie show. Lol, It’s going to be real. I want to help some people up and lyrically document it with skill.
Fans can text me directly at 314-363-5072
My music can be accessed on:
http://noisetrade.com/yjonezmusic (Free Download)