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Artist Spotlight: Cyrano aka Cy Yung

by Travis on May 1, 2009

Respect the hustle. That’s what you got to do with today’s “new” (?) artist spotlight subject. Cyrano aka Cy Yung has been on a major hustle the past few months and his newest project, Madicinal Libationz, which takes some of the more “less popular” madlib joints and has Cyrano lacing them with the goodness. I’ve listened to three or four of Cy’s mixtapes and this one really demonstrates what kind of MC this cat is.

We sat down with Cy and discussed his religious upbringing, his future, the hassle Stones Throw has been giving them among several other things…..


me·dic·i·nal: A preparation or product having the properties of a medicine.
li·ba·tion: The pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual.

When super producer J Dilla passed away in 2006, few could claim they felt the loss more than Madlib. He and Dilla had come together to present one of the most critically claimed albums of 2003, Champion Sound, and were planning on coming together again to continue to bring jaw-dropping soundscapes to the masses for years to come. It wasn’t meant to be. Since the loss of J-Dilla, Jaylib’s other half has continued pushing his beat factory to its limits, interweaving solo projects dedicated to or predicated by Dilla’s spirit in with EPs and albums highlighting some of today’s most underrated lyricists and singers. Madlib is the textbook definition of a “über-producer”, one who raises the bar consistently in quality and quantity, leaving a legacy few (besides his partner J-Dilla) could even come close to touching. But, as Roger Guenver Smith said as he portrayed Huey P. Newton in the critically-acclaimed A Huey P. Newton Story, “Everyone wants to bring you flowers when you die, no one gives you a bowl of soup to help keep you alive.” It is in this context, Dub MD and Cyrano would like to present a “bowl of soup” to Madlib entitled Madicinal Libationz.

Cyrano’s horizons are set even higher for 2009 as he attempts to add to his ever-growing, Madlib-esque catalog, including releasing 3 albums, Back 2 Lyfe (produced by Centric for Free At Last Music Group) and Soul Train Dancer: A Tribute To Rosie Perez (produced by JSLIKK for Backpackers Anonymous Music Group) along with SOBEIT (produced by Kid Hum for House Of Waxx Recordings) Also, be on the lookout as the RockTheDub website will be releasing a mixtape with Cy Yung entitled The Bleu Bayou Project. In addition to all that Dub MD with be connecting once again with Detroit emcee Nametag for Classic Cadence Vol. 2 and once again with the diabolical genius that is Illmind for Blaps, Rhymes & Life Vol. 3 in the next couple of months, stay tuned!

01.) Pacification (Produced By Madlib & Mamao)
02.) Mongrels (Produced By Quasimoto)
03.) Da Boom (Produced By Quasimoto)
04.) Delusions Of Slander (feat. Naturel) (Produced By Madlib)
05.) SONAR (Produced By Madlib)
06.) Forcefeel (feat. Si
Lent Knight) (Produced By Madlib)
07.) Madagascar (Produced By Quasimoto)
08.) How You Feel (feat. Access Immortal) (Produced By Quasimoto)
09.) Montego Bay (feat. Ill Poetic) (Produced By Madlib & Mamao)
10.) O.K. Corral (Produced By Madlib)
11.) P.A.T.O.I.S. (feat. Wordsmith & Junclassic) (Produced By Madlib)
12.) Red Bird (Produced By Madlib)
13.) Vowel Movements (Produced By Madlib)
14.) Wrapsure (Produced By Madlib)
15.) Goin’ Back To El Segundo (feat. Dominque Larue) (Produced By Madlib)
16.) A Hard Drive (Produced By Madlib)
17.) Aftershox (feat. Zero Star) (Produced By Madlib & Mamao)
18.) Bing Chaireez (feat. Junclassic) (Produced By Madlib)
19.) Bolsheviks (Produced By Jaylib)
20.) C.Y.I.D.I.T.C. (Produced By Quasimoto)

WYDU: What’s the good word my man? Care to drop a little intro on yourself and your background?

Cyrano: You know it fam. The name is Cyrano, pronounced Seer-Uh-No, accent on the Seer. Also known as Cy Yung, hailing from North Cak (Raleigh”wood” now, birthplace Greenville aka GVegas).

W: How exactly did you come up with the name Cyrano…and exactly who was he? I was looking into that myself while coming up with these questions….

C: Cyrano is the main character from the play Cyrano de Bergerac. I read the play in high school, and I remember the drawings of him showed this dude wit a freakish big nose! He was ugly, but he was in love wit a woman named Roxane. Dude was so smooth wit words, he writes these letters to her for ANOTHER guy and she falls head over heels in love wit the guy. Having that power over language was something I identified wit as a kid, and THEN Kweli dropped knowledge on em in “Definition,” when he said: “People follow me and other cats they hear him flow and assume I’m the real one with lyrics like I’m Cyrano.” After THAT?!? It was a wrap! The name stuck like flypaper.

W: Ah yes, the Steve Martin movie, guess I’m not as cultured…haha. I found it interesting that your original calling was as a minister. What changed your mind and how do you go from a man of the cloth to being in a field such as hip hop? Was it difficult to do?

C: Yeah, I started off preaching and teaching in my preteen years. That’s kinda what I was talkin about when I said “power over language.” My mom was a teacher, and she stressed the English language like no other! She would interrupt me and correct me ALL the time, if I split a verb, talked slang or anything not considered “proper.” And my parents had me in church, so I used my talent for saying speeches and writing to help save souls back then.

The “change” happened once I got out of Greenville. I went buckwild at college at NC State and really lost my relationship wit God for a minute. Then, I experimented wit other religions because I felt religion didn’t make sense all of the time. Finally, what happened is I lost someone really special: my dad. And while I was sorting thru my grief, I started writing again after about 5 years of not even being in church or school. But this time, I was writing lyrics. Poetry at first, then it evolved into verses. I got a hold of Pete Rock & C.L.’s “When They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” instrumental, and its been on since then. It was difficult, still is actually. I come from a RELIGIOUS family. A lotta ministers, deacons, trustees, etc. all through my gene pool. So if your convo ain’t about Jesus, they aren’t gonna listen to too much else. But, there are certain family members who support me wholeheartedly. I thank God for them. The rest? I don’t worry about.

W: Aight, so you are one of the busiest online hustlers on the net, always on the grind. What feeds the fire to create and release as much music as you do?

My passion for HipHop. Its not just a love. I know it sounds corny, but you can ask my girl, she always says HipHop is my REAL true love! I fell in love wit the culture back in the 90s, and I haven’t fallen COMPLETELY out just yet, so I wanna hold onto that feeling as long as I can. And when cats in the game stopped giving me that feeling, I made it my mission to fill that void. My job is far from done, so I ain’t going nowhere no time soon. I wanna have a catalog like SunRa, or Madlib, straight albums and singles for days on end. If my pen runs out of ink, I’ll use a quill. I don’t care, I gotta keep coming wit it.

W: What kind of struggles have you had to face on your path to where you are now? What’s the most important lesson you’ve come out with since your involvement in the music industry?

C: Man, I got NO love for the longest. None from my friends, my city, my family, period! But that taught me that I had what it takes to persevere and it made me aware how much I loved making music. I have been dedicated to getting respect since day one. That was my mission. To make the naysayers believers. Other than that, money has been the other issue. I mix 90-100% of music myself cuz I dont have the kinda scratch to goto no studio and kick out to no engineer. Plus, most engineers don’t really hit it spot on like I do.

The hardest part has been developing relationships. I’m a only child, and I was MAJOR spoiled when I was young. SO I used to feel really isolated in HipHop, like no one could get it like I get it. But, now I see we’re all in this together. Its impossible for me to be all I can be if you’re not all you can be. Everybody needs help, nobody makes it 100% alone. I feel like God blessed me wit multiple gifts in this, so I have been able to put out an incredible amount of quality music from a home studio. He’s also allowed people to give my music a listen, cuz I believe once you do that I got you! But, I’ve developed some fantastic relationships here recently that I value tremendously. The most important lesson I’ve learned from this journey is when God gives u lemons, you better make some lemonade! And right now, my lemonade stand is pumping!

W: You hail from NC, which obviously has been one of the hot spots on the hip hop map for the past few years. What is the feeling out there as far as the scene? Has the recent success of NC groups made it easier or more difficult to make a name for yourself?

C: To me, its been more difficult. Supastition and the homies from Justus League had to be on a SUPERGRIND to get to the level they’re at. So in that way, I feel like I’m earning my stripes in this. Nothing is given to ANYBODY the easy way, ESPECIALLY not from North Carolina.

But for real, I was talkin to one of my homies who is from NC, and he explained it to me. NO matter how difficult it is to FIND a venue, get a DJ to listen to your mixtape or play your single, whatever. If its what you want, you push thru and promote you better than they promote the others. So, my initial hope of uniting Hip Hop in NC has kinda tarnished, but I still rep for Cakalak in this. I got some folks in Raleigh & Durham (Killa K form Thyrday, Spank &
amp; Sharp from Mess Hall Records, Black Elevation Movement) that I get down wit. And my homies from Greenville are always gonna be family (Xman, Gitum, TRIAL). They’re gonna remember the name before its all said and done.

W: As I previously mentioned, you have a gang of material out there. How do you come up with your ideas for your mixtapes? What are some of your personal favorite projects that you’ve done?

C: Man, I’m a VIRGO. Mr OVERANALYTICAL! So I will ALWAYS have a crazy idea coming up!

Honestly, art imitates life. Like I was saying before, I love language. Metaphors are really deep to me, and I view life through them. So, my project ideas could come from anything that inspires a metaphor. It could be one verse that I wrote, a line or song from a movie, something said to me or by me in a conversation. Literally anything is open. My faves so far hafta be the EP I did wit Cynergy Soundz, “Ya’ll Gon’ Soon C.Y.” That was my first complete EP wit one producer, which was gonna be my trademark since day one. We did that one back in 2005, and the other fave is the “still lovin it: A mixtape ode to McDonalds” EP I did wit JSLIKK last year. That one came outta NOWHERE, but it was a dope project backed by some soulfully-Reasonable Doubt-esque beats by JSLIKK.

W: Some say that the industry has too many mixtapes, what would your response be to that line of thought?

C: I agree. I feel that the bar isnt set high enough anymore. We use mixtapes like we do the 1st amendment, for anybody and anything no matter how pathetic it is. Back in the day, you had to prove yourself. There was always a ear open to hear what you were bringing BEFORE you got a single on the radio, tour, etc. NOW, its all about marketability. What they can make people BELIEVE you are. Not what or who you really are. ANd we can’t even legitimately stand up and say what HipHop IS or ISN’T. I don’t feel half of the stuff being called HipHop is HipHop, but nowadays ALL IS FAIR. You can call yourself a thug if u goto private school, long as you wear a bandana. Dudes pull a “Dennis Rodman”, and dress up in a wedding gown or ANYTHING and THAT’S considered HipHop now. Not to mention all those that promote negative ideas, actions, etc.

Its sad, but that’s why we Underground Reality Rappers hafta fight even harder. To all those that say HipHop is about freedom, I challenge em wit this thought: How valuable is freedom WITHOUT restraint? Imagine if Harriet Tubman woulda let any and everybody LEAD people from slavery on the Underground Railroad, just cause they could walk? It woulda been a lot more people stuck, dragged back to the plantations ans all that. She knew the routes, so she led. That’s the way I see it. Those who know the destination, should have the lead in HipHop. If its not given, then we hafta take it back.

W: The newest mixtape of yours, Madicinal Libationz, is a great project. How did that come together, rhyming over Madlib beats, and what are you hoping to accomplish with the project?

C: I was finishing up my Back To Lyfe album wit Centric, and my Soul Train Dancer album wit JSLIKK last year, and I released a couple mixtapes to give people a chance to get to know me and the producers before the albums get released. After that, I was approached by DubMD to get on his HipHop Renatus mixtape, and we picked a Madlib beat for me to rip on that. It turned out to be “O.K. Corral,” so I hit Dub after his mixtape dropped, and told him that I was feeling like I could drop some ill science over Madlib’s beats. Kinda give him a little bigup like Dilla got wit Dillagence and If Heaven Was A Mile Away, feel me?

I felt like if I did Madlib’s production justice, it would open up a lotta people to some of his more obscure, unheard production AND let em know how I put it down on the M.I.C. at the same time.

W: Of course, any blogger that has made the mistake of posting a Stones Throw project can attest to their fiestiness. That also goes for this project, what kind of issues have you been having with Stones Throw? What is the outcome likely to be? Any type of “musical response” to them in the future?

C: Well, we made the mistake of not giving Stones Throw ample time to know about, hear and gauge the mixtape. So, when they heard a artist was using Madlib’s beats, it got them in attack mode to make sure it wasn’t being downloaded on the internet from ANY upload sites or HipHop blogs. So, we wrote them and let Madlib’s camp know its all love, no profit, no attempt to discredit the fact that these beats are taken from his previous projects, NOT given to me, etc. I think we’re reaching a common ground. They discussed the problem as they see it, I discussed the positives, and I think we’re agreeing to disagree. Stones Throw says they have no comment, or intent to stop it, so hopefully its a dead issue.

As far as musical responses go, I don’t foresee any beef-type stuff or nothing like that. Originally, I got the pen out and did some “stone throwing,” but I don’t want to detract from the effort me and DubMD put into the project itself. We got some choice beats from Madlib’s catalog, I put the crazy verbals on em, AND we got some premier guest-ofs from known and up-n-coming emcees. Its a certified mixtape, nobody can deny it once they hear it. MIXTAPE OF THE YEAR, vote now wherever they rate and award mixtapes!

W: Do you have any dream collaborations for the future, such as album guests and producers you’d like to work with?

C: Yeah, I’ll put one out there. Me & Supastition are homies from way back, so I would be AMPED to get on a song wit him. Hopefully, that will happen one day sooner than later. Other than that, a Slaughterhouse, Duck Down or Wutang collab would geek me up right now. Frankly, a collab wit ANYONE from the Golden Era of HipHop would have me buggin out! That goes from Rakim to KRS, Lyte to Latifah, DeLa
to Digable, ATCQ to Brand Nubian, Premier to Dre, Snoop to Nas, and all those in between! But personally, I’m open to collab wit anyone that respects the craft and respects what I do.

W: What does the future hold for Cyrano? What are you working on?

C: 2009 is gonna be crazy. The 1st official album is COMING. Back 2 Lyfe, produced entirely by CENTRIC and Free At Last Music Group. Features include Sean Boog and Median from Justus League and vocalist Hanan to name a few. Second official in the chamber. Soul Train Dancer, A Tribute to Rosie Perez, produced entirely by JSLIKK
and Backpackers Anonymous Music Group coming 2009. Features include Rashid Hadee and Asylum 7 to name a few. Me & producer Kid Hum are doing a collabo EP/Album entitled SOBEIT, featuring Whygee and Nico The Beast to name a few. And I’m gonna be on Kid Hum’s collabo mixtape, Offshore Drilling (coming soon).

Mixtapes & Features? Where can I start?? I’m currently on’s Undaground Cypher Vol 3, on JSLIKK’s next album entitled Escapism, and on a upcoming feature wit Dominique Larue (who was on my Madicinal project). Not to mention a Free At Last Music project in the works with emcee Urban Truth (again produced by CENTRIC). I will also be starting 2 mixtape SERIES very soon, but more word on that in the coming weeks. Only one thing I’ll say….GET READY 4 DA

W: Any last words for the fine people out there in blog land?

C: Trust me, after this year you wont be able to forget the name. Cyrano aka CY YUNG is in the building to stay. Download the Madicinal Libationz mixtape, its a bonafide grand slam home run, then come to my Myspace and download my recent EPs and some mixtapes I had a guest spot on. My Datpiff links are there. My blog links are there. My top friends are all cool, and they’re there. Be on the lookout for Back 2 Lyfe, my 1st official featuring the single Special (also available for donload from previous posts on WYDU and other blogs)
Its much more music out there wit my stamp on it, and like Clubber Lang said, “I gotta lotta moe!” YouTube me, Twitter me, Google me. I’m there all day every day. Holla

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