Eben Yusso, better known professionally by his stage name Yu$$o, is a rapidly rising star in Ottawa’s rap scene. Yu$$o attributes his influences to some of the heavy weights in the business including now deceased pop super star Michael Jackson, Kid Cud, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony and American superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar. With such a diverse group of idols there is no doubt Yu$$o is destined for greatness.
Entertwine: Could you give us some insight into your musical background? Where you from and what inspired you to begin writing and recording in the first place?
Yu$$o: I think I’m the first one in my family to pursue music the way I have. The most musical person in my family I would say is my dad because he’s always got music playing. My background is Ghanaian, although I was born in Bulgaria. Most of my life I’ve been in Canada growing up in Ottawa, Ontario.
What inspired me to get into writing and recording was when I used to do a co-op at a store called 456 Fashions. I would always see local artists who were poppin at the time, and some still are, coming in and out of the store dropping off new material and it would get me hyped. From seeing their packaged CD’s to seeing them in person. The store supported the local music scene heavily so I would see all these mixtape covers and would want one of my own.
As soon as high school was over for me I started immediately recording. I wrote over instrumentals and released them as mixtapes for free download, thinking I would get signed after I dropped my first one…ha!
ET: You currently reside in Ottawa (the capital of Canada), correct? What is it like living there? What is the rap scene like in Ottawa?
Yu$$o: Yeee…we call it CapCity! It’s pretty chill if that describes it well enough. I mean compared to a lot of other cities in just Canada alone, we’re pretty laid back. Most career jobs are government oriented so just picture that if you can lol. The rap scene right now in Ottawa is growing and it’s diverse as ever. You have so many different artists and rappers all building their fan base to come up from and it’s interesting to see it all. That’s what I like the most about our scene, the diversity you get to see.
ET: What life experiences and events inspired the writing and recording of your mixtape “Sandbox Pride”? Could you tell us a bit about the meaning or significance behind each of the featured tracks?
Yu$$o: Different life experiences like growing up without proper guidance. The influence of drugs in my generation. The parties I’ve attended and how they’ve affected my outlook on people and social interactions. Lastly relationships, religious issues, self-conciseness/awareness, and individual worth.
You have tracks like Ignition 91, King’s Speech, and Stereotype that cover topics like drug influence in our generation, the effect parties have had on me, and religion. You also have tracks like So Many Details, Machine Gun Rap, and Goin On that get into relationships. Tracks like Numb Pain,and The Zone get at my journey with marijuana, and my raw thoughts (before thinking) on issues I’ve had with people.
ET: What went into the making of each of the music videos you’ve appeared in (for your songs ‘Anger Management’, ‘New History’, ‘Make A Move’, ‘Numb Pain’, and ‘Machine Gun Rap’)?
Yu$$o: Well Anger Management and Make A Move were done by the same person, Ji Ji Visuals. It was my first time working with her and she wanted to get a hand in making music videos by using me as a subject, so I agreed. With both videos we went out and found different locations and began shooting. The first video we worked on was Make A Move. I didn’t know what to expect because I had never seen any videos she had done before hand, so when I saw the finished product I was amazed.
For New History, and Numb Pain I wanted to establish a feel of exploration with what I directed. It’s what I do in my everyday life. I explore a lot…mostly mentally but exploring is what I do. When we were shooting New History I didn’t want much focus on me as a subject so I had my homie Sasha play the main role. As for Numb Pain, that was more of a gorilla style shoot where we went out to some locations I found cool and captured what came to mind.
ET: What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for Yu$$o? Are you currently working on new material or scheduling upcoming performance dates?
Yu$$o: I’m currently working on a collaborative EP with an artist by the name of KING titled Crookid Bass. We’re also playing songs from this EP at our release party on October 16th at Babylon Night Club in Ottawa. After that I’ll be in Toronto preforming live for the SOTI Finals (Survival Of The Illest) on November 7th. I won the competition in Ottawa so I’ll be going toe to toe with artists from all over Ontario for the crown. I’m also set to release a few singles and videos before presenting details on my next all original project. I’ve been working on a lot of side projects, learning new things and bringing ideas to fruition that all tie into the release of my debut original project, so these remaining months of 2014 should be looking nice for Yu$$o.