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 45 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 1415 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?

Twit­ter @YBG585

You­Tube @Youngblackandgiftedmusic

Ins­tagram @Youngblackandgifted585

Twit­ter @smoothfreshness

You­Tube @smoothfreshness

Ins­tagram @smoothfreshness

Ins­tagram @Azariahybg

Twit­ter @Kiddcalledquest

Ins­tagram @Kiddcalledquest and @Kiddcalledquestybg

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.