With a rapper name that good, it has to stand alone as the title. “Who is Yadda Man?” you may ask, feeling a bit skeptical. I don’t blame the hint of doubt in your voice, I am just as selective when it comes to finding rappers I like. But despite my discernment, I always give a chance to rappers who go out of their way to get me to listen to their music.
In the middle of the night on St. Patrick’s Day, on the corner of Calhoun and King, Yadda Man was out hustling his mixtape with a smile. He didn’t even know I was a writer when he offered me his CD in return for a donation. But when he approached me, I was more than happy to strike a deal. I even bought two – the other one for my wasted friend.
Getting in my car to go home, I popped in the mixtape. I didn’t expect to make it through the first couple of songs, because that’s how it usually goes.
But then it started playing.
“These off brand n*ggas ain’t really the future, Ms. Cleo,” the Wiz Khalifa sample from “The Statement” looped back and then repeated two more times with Yadda Man defiantly laughing over the track in the background. Never before had the line sounded so cool. Then the beat started and Yadda crooned the hook as if in direct response to Wiz, “F*ck what they say, f*ck what they say, why they always f*ckin’ with me?” It sounded as if I had been listening to Yadda Man my whole life.
“UNTIL THE EP…22” isn’t Yadda Man’s introduction to the world, it is his assertion that, although you may not have heard of him, you will. It’s his assertion that he is here to stay. It’s his confrontation of everything that makes him who he is. It’s the thesis of his style, position and image. And when I listen to rap, those are the things that I listen for.
The songs range from “Higher than Everybody,” in which he offers a hit to his principal and explores his playful side, to “Understand.” “Understand” employs an incredible sample of his voicemail that illustrates his unavailability to his loved ones, a reality that he struggles with in the goose-bump inspiring hook sung in baritone, “Damn Yadda, where you been at?” The song is a message to his cousin behind bars and his mother. He talks about how he loves them, how hard he is working and how he hopes they understand that he may be absent, but he has not forgotten them.
Earlier in the mixtape, Yadda Man also confronted his absent father in “Think.” He describes the thoughts that haunt him, the thoughts that give him insomnia. He opens up about how he struggles with being a father because he never had a father, about the stages of depression and about how this all culminates into him letting down his loved ones.
What makes his songs like “Think” and “Understand” incredible is how they are juxtaposed against songs like “We Run It” and “Right Now,” which are hype enough to make anyone jump up and bounce, and how the mixtape has an overall hopeful and positive sound with good vibes.
Yadda Man can be just as fun as he is deep. And while those two qualities are often considered exclusive, he is able to combine them in “Let Go.” In this song he explains his problems with love, lust and past relationships. While being real, Yadda talks about the things in those relationships that made him love the girls he was with, like how they would pass notes instead of texting in between classes. He even expertly samples a Lauryn Hill interview. But in the same song he jokingly sings the hook in reference to those girls that played him, “I dodged a bullet from your stinky a**.” And though the hook is silly, it shows another level of realness that Yadda Man offers us. It shows us how he uses humor to cope and deal with things. It’s his smiling personality, and his personality bleeds all over the album, making us smile as well.
His personality and image blend flawlessly. He outlines his style in “In God We Trust,” “Expensive boxer briefs, official Jordan kicks, off-brand tee.” The emphasis on “off-brand tee” ties in the Wiz sample from the beginning of the record and we learn that he and his posse are called “Off Brand.” The name, a little rebellious and a little disengaged from societal standards, sticks out as one of the coolest squad names since A$AP. One of the things that makes it so cool is that it is inclusive by nature. Anyone can be OB, all you need to do is quit worrying about what Instagram thinks is cool and find your own style.
Yadda Man and I have a lot in common. He’s trying to make it in rapping and I’m trying to make it in writing. “I dropped a single just to see if the world was ready or not, got the results back, I guess I wasn’t ready to pop,” he admits on the finale “O.V.A.” But while he faces this, he never doubts himself. In the next line, he responds with, “This is Uncle Grandpa JoJo (a recurring character on his Youtube Chanel) checkin’ in, and I just wanted to let y’all know, y’all done f*cked up with Yadda Man. Turn down for what.” Yadda Man’s belief in himself has me believig in myself as well, it has me hype to do what I love to do just by doing what he does. If that isn’t dope, I don’t know what is.
As the last song ends, a muffled version of the sample that the album started with replays, “These off brand n*ggas ain’t really the future, Ms. Cleo…” The CD jumps back to the first song and picks up where the last song left off, flawlessly transitioning the end to the beginning, and I can’t help but listen again. Like I said, it’s like I have been listening to Yadda Man my whole life.
P.S. Listen to “UNTIL THE EP…22” all the way through here (trust me, it is better that way). Also, Yadda just dropped this. I’m halfway through and it is super dope – and already – he’s gotten even better.