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Artist Spotlight Week: Y?Arcka

by Travis on February 16, 2010

Growing up, Philadelphia was the home of some of my favorite hip hop. I’ve made no qualms about calling Schoolly D, 3xDope, Steady B, Cash Money & Marvelous, among other classic Philly acts as some of my favorite in the genre of hip hop. So the city has had soft spot in my heart and will always be a city that I keep close tabs on. The past couple years, the city has started stepping up again and producing some great musicians again. Over the past couple years, we here at WYDU have featured the likes of Has-Lo, Zilla Rocca, Nico the Beast, Small Pro, Fade Money, and Drumz & Llingo have all graced the site. Today’s spotlight artist/producer isn’t from Philly (Jersey), but reps the city now and carries that Philly torch and sound. Y? Arcka, the spry producer is part of the “new age” producer, that make music that can easily stand on it’s on as well as provide some dramatic soundscapes for emcees. Just listening to his instrumental projects, you realize how deep his music is, and just how passionate he is about his music. This is a cat you must hear….

My Personal Favorites From Each Project (teasers)

From The Appreciation SP
Mental Cruise (Donald Byrd)

From Un-Herd Vol 1
Come With Me (Holla)

From Exhibits A-Z
Exhibit O: Grand Wizard

The Appreciation SP/ Exhibits A-Z Link

Drematic & Y?Arcka - Water
1st Single w B-Side

WYDU: What’s good man, how about a little introduction and where you reppin?

Y?Arcka: Hey What’s up, This is Y?Arcka (as in Why? + Arcka, derived from Young Architect. I’ll explain later) reppin Philadelphia now but I was born and raised in New Jersey

W: Let’s jump right into it, I know I don’t know a lot about, how about a little background. How long have you been into the production game?

Y?: I’ve been producing for about 13 years. It started around the time when I saw the “Triumph” video by Wu. Immediately after seeing them come together again, I started rapping. My brother (Audio Rohn) was already rapping and making music but when he started bringing this beat machine (Boss Dr. Groove 202) over, I started trying my hand at production. At that stage, it was figuring out what went where (kicks, snares, and sounds in general) For 7 years, I was perfecting my craft, working with local heads in NJ. I went to college in Philly and never left. I originally was gonna major in Architecture but switched it to Communications to further my knowledge of the technical side of music. Now, I’m a sound engineer/producer.

W: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard of you before?

Y?: My sound I would say is constantly breaking traditional molding. I’m a person that doesn’t try to do what others do. I do what I do. My personality and music are one in the same. Granted, I am inspired by many but I don’t try to duplicate their works but try to add on to the creativity and individuality they presented.

W: Coming out of Philly, the scene seems to be quite busy, how would you say Philly ranks these days as far as hip hop? Who have you worked with out of Philly?

Y?: I feel Philly is in the top 5 and rising. I say rising because of the newer heads coming out of Philly are onto something.

I’m currently working with Drematic, Aquil, Has-Lo, Small Professor, Zilla Rocca, and Curly Castro.

W: You’ve been quoted as saying that the death of J Dilla changed how you produced and your sound in general. Can you elaborate on that a bit more?

Y?: When he died, it crushed me because he was onto something. It made me realize life is short and maybe I need to let people hear my music instead of just me and my friends. I made a Dilla Beat CD with 401 beats and listened to it for a year in a half straight in my car. In that year and half time period, the music I made was heavily influenced by him. I started trying new styles and techniques that I’ve never done before. Not his styles and techniques but my own based off of my own individuality. I was hearing music differently and paid more attention to everything sonically and tonally. 

W: What are the weapons of choice as far as your production techniques go?

Y?: The easiest question yet. Akai MPC2000XL. All works heard so far have been done on that machine.

W: I always have to ask this to any producer I talk to, what is your take on the whole Software Vs. Hardware issue?

Y?: I will admit that I’m old school; I used to make ACTUAL beat tapes. I learned both sides of production, software and hardware throughout the years. I choose both because they both have something to offer. A good analogy is old school vs. new school. The old school still has a wide range of knowledge that the new school can learn from. And the new school has knowledge that the old school can learn from. I try not to be one sided until I hear each side out first. I apply these same principles in my approach to production.

W: Let’s talk about some of your past works, I know of two, Un-Herd Vol. 1 and The Appreciation, is there any more than that?

Y?: Nah, Un-Herd Vol. 1 was my f
irst official release. And on Christmas of that same year, I released The Appreciation SP on my own.

Unfortunately, in 2009, I didn’t release anything officially. But I’ve been putting works out pretty much every week. The project is called “Exhibits A-Z”.

W: Neither one of the projects is what could be labeled as a beat tape. Instead they are musical compositions that stand on their own merits. Is this something that you aimed for? Is there a difference between making beats for someone to rhyme over and just making music for the sake of listening without having words over it?

Y?: YES!!! That was exactly what I was shooting for. I want all my projects to stand on there own and have their own sound.

I think there is a big difference because you have to leave room or space for a rapper/singer so they can do there thing. Listening to my 1st 2 projects, I left very little space because I wanted people to hear the music as a journey.

W: Starting off with The Appreciation SP, the more I listened to the project, the more…*ahem* appreciation I got for it. Can you jump into how that came about and what exactly it’s about?

Y?: The Appreciation SP came about in a beat listening session with John Sport from D.C. Some of the beats I was playing were clearly not for rappers/singers. They had something about them that he said I should put these together and make it a project. As I was putting it together and thinking of what to name it, I wanted to list the artists that I sampled, instead of doing it on the sneak-tip and letting heads figure it out on there own. The name of the project came from the 1st track (Appreciation) done in 2005. It was the 1st track with that kind of theme to it. I continued doing beats like this unconsciously. I have a couple more like it that didn’t make the cut.

W: Obviously with all the influences from The Appreciation SP, you are into the classics and then some. Are you into vinyl and the whole diggin’ scene? If so, what do you look for when you are out and about and how do you choose a sample to work with in general?

I’m into everything, meaning I will sample anything. I have a bunch of vinyl, terabytes of music on my hard drives. Basically, anything that sounds good to my ears, no matter what the source is. I don’t see the need to limit myself to one source of samples because not everything is on vinyl. There was a time I was heavy into vinyl but I realized there is more music/sounds out there that I can’t obtain on vinyl so I’ll sample the next best thing.

W: The Un-Herd is more “traditional”, in a sense, for the lack of a better word. How did it come about? How does it differ from previous works you’ve done?

Y?: Before Un-Herd, my works were just beat CDs spanning 8 plus years. The CDs consisted of my beats recorded in chronological order from when I made them. Un-Herd stemmed from a beat CD that I gave my friend, who at the time was the A&R at Rope-A-Dope Records. It was different from all my previous beat CDs because it had shorter tracks and no breaks or fade outs just beats for about 40 minutes. Essentially, it was my first Demo. He said I should do something similar and give it to him and he’ll present it to Rope-A-Dope. I did and they liked it so I got a digital distribution deal out of it.

W: As you mentioned, you are working on another project, Exhibits A-Z (except it stops at X, it confuses me), which I’m downloading right now. The tracks on it seem a bit longer on it, can you give a run down on that.

Y?: Exhibits A-Z is a project that is on-going because I’ve been releasing a beat every week since August 2009. Each week corresponds to a letter in the alphabet. Currently, Z is the next and last Exhibit. Exhibit Z will be the end of the project. The music is mostly new, some from a Dilla Show I was in last Feb, and some from the Arckives. I just wanted to showcase all my abilities, various styles that I picked along the way. This is how my music sounds like before I chop it up. I know heads have short attention spans like me so I make them more concise when I’m doing projects like Un-Herd or Appreciation.

W: What does the future hold for Y?Arcka? What else do you have going that we need to check for?

Y?: The future holds a lot of collaborative works in 2010 all different on their own. In example:

1.) Emcee/Producer album: Drematic & Y?ArckaWater (

2.) Compilation album with artists from Philly, VA, NJ, DC, AZ: …Never Been Arcka-ed
3.) Producer Collaboration with Small Professor – ??? 

4.) Songs with Various Artists including Aquil from Philly

5.) My beat projects have been put to the side for now

W: Any last words for the new fans you will have after reading this?

Y?: Look out for all my releases in 2010 and beyond. Support you local artists. And Open Your Minds to Advance Hip Hop, Advance Hop and/or Vance Hop. I’m trying to coin that as a new genre…lol

Un-Herd Digital Links

Un-Herd Phyiscal Copies LInk

Other Info …Twitter/Myspace/email

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{ 1 comment }

Ill Flow March 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm

always glad to see and read a good interview. my man Y? has been doing it for a MINUTE and bringing the heat on the daily!

Definitely worth checkin out this kid!

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