Once again it’s on, the Rochester New York duo (Young Black And Gifted) has been making some noise and building a name for themselves. Today the duo is back with another new single “It’s A Wrap” off their upcoming album “The Second Coming” expected to drop soon. As usual Kidd Called Quest lace Azariah with some powerful production for him to go off on the hard hitting classic New York sounding anthem. We catch up with them to find out more.
Tell us about your journey in the music scene?
Azariah: I’ve been grinding in music since 2005 when I released my first project The Chronicle. It was also my first time performing around Rochester and other Upstate NY areas like buffalo and Syracuse. I met Kidd Called Quest back then he was running with the name Jay Quest at the time. Quest came through one of the biggest shows I did up to that point at Milestones in Rochester now known as Flour City Station I believe. The landscape was different then there was social media but nothing like it is now. The biggest platform back then was Myspace. Facebook was still just for college students then. I felt that I had a good start early on I had management that help get me in some publications locally and help me get paid from my work and shows that I was doing. Quest produced a large majority of a project of mine titled Subject To Change we recorded that joint in 2006 and I released about a year or so later. We’ve been working ever since.
Kidd Called Quest: I’ve been making beats since 8th grade 2001 and been grinding since 2005. It all started with my first beat tape Jay-Quest Vs 9th Wonder. That tape helped me get my name out all over the western New York region. I was getting hits from artist all over and some international exposure. I remember it like yesterday when I first stepped out into the Rochester music scene in late 2005 as time went my music journey started getting busy I had my name circulating over the internet, in 2008/2009 I started knocking out my own compilations ect… Things was really starting to pick up. When I started my (Put Your Headphones) album. That project there helped me get out there even more that was around the time I got my first album placement with (Big Shug) on his “Other Side Of The Game” album. I started working with a lot of underground legends. In 2013 I was featured in the XXL and was going to get a actual feature in the magazine but I ended up in the hospital and couldn’t make that opportunity. In 2016 I fell back from doing projects and started to attend a lot of producer events in NYC and started getting my name more familiar with people down there I also started meeting a lot of legends. I can go on for days about the journey it’s still going.
How did you both get together to form the duo ‘Young Black & Gifted’ and how did you decide on the name?
Azariah: We had a great chemistry from the early days. When I first met Quest he was in a group called Kicks and Snares with another artist/producer name Inno. Inno also contributed to my 2008 release Subject To Change sonically. When Inno decided to leave music alone for good after becoming a father Quest and myself worked more closely. Quest came up with the name and the idea of us being a collective. The first name Quest threw out there was Livin Proof but since it was brothas from the 90s running wit that he went back to the drawing board for YBG. I always knew when I link with quest it gonna be something special cuz we boys outside of the rap ish.
Kidd Called Quest: I remember it like yesterday when I first stepped out into the Rochester music scene, the first local hip hop show at an old venue back in the day Called Milestone. My man Inno asked me to come out with him funny thing is. I almost didn’t go out that night but it’s a good thing that night went the way it did. It was that same night I ended up meeting our guy Euphony. We built for a little after his performance and exchanged math and ended up linking up 2 weeks later. That same day we got up I ended up meeting Azariah we started building heavy he was in the middle of working on his (Subject To Change) Project that was in 2006. We just started to connect more and more and build, we started making mad music together and developed a solid relationship. After I dropped my first compilation album, I got up with Azariah and hit him with an idea I had of doing an actual project together. From there the first name I came up with was (Living Proof) we went by that for a little second before we switched to ( Young Black And Gifted) after we found out someone else was already going by that name. We dropped our first album “Long Time Coming” in 2013.
You have a very authentic Hip-Hop style, reminiscent of some from the Golden Era of rap. Tell us a bit about what defines and inspires your style?
Azariah: I like listening to rap that makes me wanna rhyme. That how I know if something is good or not if it inspires me and gets those creative juices brewing in my head and come up with something dope. I’m from that era where dudes was nice and had bars. Plus being a young adolescent in the late 90s early 00s that was my most impressionable time period for finding where I fit in to things and the music then was way more impactful for me then stuff now. My style is raw lyricism I give u bars and aggression without incriminating myself or selling u kilos on wax. That a skill that few have. I come from a different space when I give u my testimony.
Kidd Called Quest: Me when it comes to making beats I get inspired by a lot of stuff. I try my hardest to make beats that people all over can vibe to. I try to incorporate the gritty boom bap with a little modern feel.
How important is it for you to create music that inspires, or tells a story?
Azariah: It’s of the upmost importance your music is gonna be here when you’re gone, it lasts forever so what u say in your records show the type of person u are and your message all that factors in to how you will be remembered.
Kidd Called Quest: It’s definitely important when we are no longer living. Our music will still be here to inspire people from generations after us. The music will live of forever and ever there will always be someone who will discover it and learn about the history of the person/people that was involved with the music.
How did music change your life?
Azariah: It gave me a forum to speak my mind. And share my ideas aspirations and dreams.
Kidd Called Quest: It saved me from doing a lot negative things I could of possibly been involved in. The music helped me express myself to others. It also inspired me to grind and work hard as I can it played a big role for me also showed me there’s people who appreciate what you do.
Tell us about your latest track ‘It’s a wrap’? Talk us through the creative process.
Azariah: It’s a Wrap was fun to write the way the beat came in I knew I was gonna write of shit on that joint and it just formed organically nothing forced. After it was mixed I knew we was going to shoot a video for it.
Kidd Called Quest: When I actually made that beat I was just messing around with the sample and came up with the drum pattern. That beat is like 4⁄5 years old I remember when I made it I did 2 different versions of it. The artist who used the other version ain’t really do nothing with the song he did. So I went back and polished up the beat and cleaned up the drums, after hearing it fully mixed I was like this something I can hear Azariah on I sent it to him next thing I knew we recorded the song with my man Midnite and the final product was dope.
Your album ‘The Second Coming’ is out soon, what can we expect from it?
Azariah: Good music and something different from everything else coming out now.
Kidd Called Quest: This album definitely going to be something different from everything else people are familiar with that comes out from our from area. I think this project is our best work to date people will definitely be satisfied when they hear it. We just did us being ourselves on this album. I think people who appreciate good music will love this tape so overall just expect a real solid dope project.
Are you still working on any solo projects too?
Azariah: Yes me and my man Laddie gotta Phase II Return of Sloppy Smooth in the works and YBG also got a project Fighter Spirit with Jae Hussle that be coming soon.
Kidd Called Quest: Yes I actually have a few other side projects out side the group I’m working on. Not sure yet when those will be out but they are being cooked up as we speak. Once all those are completed and released you can expect more work from us.
Kidd Called Quest — How would you define your style as a producer, do you feel you have a signature sound?
My style I would describe it as a hard hitting classic smooth east coast feel with a modern twist. Over the past 6 years I’ve been working on trying to develop my own signature sound. The first project I actually stepped out of my box would be the “BXROC” project I did with my man G.Fisher, possibly even earlier then that with “Put Your Headphones On2”. But more so “BXROC” I started getting more into mixing the 808s with the samples and using the modern sound but at the same time adding my own twist to things. Do I have a signature sound I’m not sure yet, but as time goes on and I continue to work with more people and djs and artist start recognizing my beats having a certain feeling and sound then I can say I probably have reached that goal with creating my own sound. Some people are already saying I do after hearing Jae Hussle album I fully produced “Reflections”.
With the rise in bedroom producers, do you feel being a producer lacks skills now?
Kidd Called Quest: Not at all it all boils down to that you either have it or you don’t. I’ve been a producer who’s made tons of beats and produced albums in my bedroom. I really don’t think the environment plays a role in the amount of skills people have. Some people are naturally good at things from the jump and some get better over time.
What are your favourite tools to produce?
Kidd Called Quest: I’m a MPC head I been rocking with it since I was 14⁄15 but recently most of my stuff has been done with the maschine. I like the workflow of it. I be back and forth between that and the mpc.
What advice can you give to any upcoming producers?
Kidd Called Quest: Just keep working hard and grind even when you are not in the mood to do it. You will have moments that you will feel discourage and feel like things are not moving when they are. Me personally I’ve been through many different emotions doing this. I’ve had situations that almost took off but ain’t work out I just used that as motivation to try to come into a bigger and better situation. So basically like I said just work hard and do you run with your gut feeling.
Where can we follow you and find out more?
Instagram @Kiddcalledquest and @Kiddcalledquestybg
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