With his new project The Yellow Tape, Yusuf Yellow gathers stories that reflect on the highs and lows of life. The result is an odyssey of introspective hip-hop, exploring experiences of toxic masculinity, societal pressures, self-worth and self-development. Against a backdrop of twenty-something hedonism, Yellow weaves between light-hearted rhymes and deeper, cathartic confessions. Offering both tranquil beats and ruminative lyrics, The Yellow Tape lends itself to soundtrack both reflective wintry nights-in and blissed-out afters this summer.
Yellow’s hypnotically deep, languid vocals flow seamlessly over beats produced by Jackie Moonbather. The Sheffield-based rapper’s witty wordplay is deeply personal yet consolingly relatable, telling biographical tales of being a “coffee shop part-timer” navigating relationships, personal development, a social life and a career.
Opening with ‘Growth Of The Flower’, Yellow addresses the effects of cutting comments thrown at him growing up: “Gone with the fairies is what they used to say to him / Every time it happened little cuts would wound him razor-thin”. It’s a strong opener, introducing Yellow’s intelligent lyricism delivered by his signature somnolent drawl. It’s a track that demands to be put on repeat, the jazz piano sample meandering under Yellow’s sharp storytelling.
‘Sippin’ Tea’ continues this exploration of self-worth, taking a more philosophical approach. Produced by Oscar Blakey (AKA, Lost Oz), the single is a hard-hitting yet affectionate track in which Yellow expresses personal insecurities amongst candid jokes about progressing as an artist: “Three shows in two weeks, that was progress / Bare people didn’t show but that was no stress”.
Yusuf Yellow wears his heart on his rolled-up sleeves with this vulnerable project, but it is far from a cry for help. Produced by Jackie Moonbather (Blancmange Lounge), the diaristic project is a refreshingly honest and beautifully delivered account from a young man navigating the complexities of modern life. It’s thoughtful, it’s empowering and, most of all, it slaps.