We’re very excited to introduce you to our Cameroonian crush, Yonkwi. His 3-song album WAV. Palm Wine Vol. 1 released a few days ago on soundcloud and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The sound is vibrant, catchy and dynamic, all at once. His tropical island vibes are just what we needed to make us forget about this cold ass Belgian weather.
Yonkwi is both multitalented and multicultural. He produces and everything himself, blending his West-African roots with American rap. He was actually born to Cameroonian parents in Tokyo, then moved to New York, where he has been living ever since. Right now he’s taking some time off in Paris but he was down to have a little chat with us.
How did you get inspired? “I grew up in a household where they only played African music. At the same time I listened to a lot of productions by Pharell, Kanye, Timbaland… There’s a lot of different flavors involved. I want to create something eccentric by blending African and American music.”
How do you feel about today’s hip hop scene overall? “It’s kind of dope, I really like the whole concept of energy. There’s a bit of repetitiveness though. Everybody is trying to get on so fast and sometimes there’s a bit of a lack in originality.”
Is there an artist you’d like to collaborate with ? “I started producing because I don’t like being dependent. One of my friends did link me up with Anik Khan and we made a song together, Tangerine. It’s a great song, so I’m cool with doing a verse from time to time but when it comes to production, I prefer being self-dependent.”
What would you be doing in life if it wasn’t making music ? “I’ve always been passionate about creating. I used to make music videos as a kid, started producing music on FL studio in high school. Then I started making clothes. If I wasn’t producing , I’d be working as a music analyst. I love music both in the artistic and the business sense.”
So you’re also into fashion also? “Yeah, back in the days I was trying to make something unique to wear myself. Actually, The EP cover of WAV PALM is inspired by some of the hats I used to make. A lot of the clothes were black, mixed with the greens,yellows and reds from the flag. Just like my music, I tried to represent my hometown in the coolest way possible.
We’re really digging the French vocab in your music. Did you ever think about making a full-on French song? *laughs* “Absolutely not ! My French is not that great. I did learn it in school so I know little here and there, but I’m primarily an Anglophone. Cameroon is bilingual so by speaking French, I want people to understand my music better. I also feel like there’s animosity between Anglophones and Francophones in my country. I try to put the sounds together so that people can see there’s this layer of peace that can exist amongst both sides. It just makes sense in my head.”
In Salsa you’re talking about falling for a stripper. How’s your love life in real? *laughs even harder* “You’re right, I was getting lapdances for free, the stripper saw it was my first time in club. But seriously, most of my songs are inspired by how much I love women. With music you can say so much more. By singing stuff, it sounds less corny than in real, that’s the power of music. Overall my love life is somewhat cool, but I wish I was more expressive sometimes.”
Do you already have big plans for the future? New songs, album, concerts maybe? “I’ve come to realize, as an up-and-coming artist, people don’t want to listen to a full body of work. Unless you have a lot of popularity, they just want to listen to your best. There’s too many people making 20 songs and expect you to listen to all of them. I’ll be dropping a song occasionally, so definitely stay tuned for more in 2018.”