ReKreation
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ReKreation

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012

Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Hip Hop Funk

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"YaNi: "Rebel with a Cause""

For this up and coming artist putting herself together is all about emotion more so than being fashionable, although she does so effortlessly. “I wear what feels good, she says. If it doesn’t feel right I take it off. I’m not into labels, especially where it comes to labeling people…I could be wearing a hundred dollar leather jacket and a two dollar button down…it’s really about feeling good in the skin you’re in.” Yani’s style is just a minuscule part of what makes this young talent a force to be reckoned with. We sat down over a delicious plate of southern fried chicken and mac and cheese to talk about a litany of things—from her beginnings in music to her latest projects, set to release in the coming months.
In order to fully appreciate this budding star, it’s important that you put away any preconceptions you may have about female emcees. Yani isn’t a pre-packaged artist conjured to appeal to the fickle masses. Her music has depth and a rousing consciousness comparable to that of seasoned rapper, Common. This “Peace Messenger” has already made a global impact gracing the stage in countries such as London, The Czech Republic, Germany, and Holland, to name a few. “I was born humming and singing” admits Yani, highlighting the fact that she has been around music all her life. A passion that stems from her roots in the black church. “The Black church was my first form of musical expression; it had a significant influence early in my life and continues to.” Her music, evoking viscerally while calling for tangible action, is one she describes as “movement music”. “Mo Betta,” a jazz infused piece that incorporates a sample beat from the movie ‘Mo Betta Blues,” perfectly shows off Yani’s vocal prowess and lyrical style. She spits: “I’m your medicine or ya reverend/literary visionary never the subsidiary.. /internalize the love, externalize the hate,” her flow is as smooth as it is succinct.

These days you’ll find Yani involved in a plethora of projects in and outside the studio. It isn’t unusual to find her and her band mates doing service projects as well as mentoring young people in their community. She affirms that, “in a culture that’s lacking togetherness in the mainstream, I think my message of peace is crucial.” She has a yearning to make a serious impact on those around her—the young artist walks the walk, practicing the motto of “one love”. Her mantra coupled with hard work and discipline has gotten Yani where she is and continues to garner her a multitude of opportunities. Always on the grind, helping however she can— not long ago she was involved with the Atlanta Women’s and Children’s shelter raising funds as well as buying jackets to clothe those in need. She proudly supports her neighborhood by investing time to community day at urban farms called “Peacepeople at the Park” that aims at teaching people to work and harvest their food. Back in September she took part in a conference that promotes the empowerment of young girls and just recently was a speaker at The Women & Girls in Georgia Conference at the University of Georgia.
The Spelman grad was initially a solo artist who eventually transitioned to working with her band, The Peace People. The collaborative process was one she was familiar with since her college days touring with the glee club at her alma mater and it was there that she learned the importance of discipline in the music industry. She adds “the glee club taught me about showing up, blending with others to create musical rhymes, the experiences taught me very well for the road that lie ahead of me.” The band has certainly added to the evolution of her artistry and the slew of projects lined up for the coming months connotes to Yani’s gumption towards honing her craft. An earnest twinkling smile befalls Yani as she describes the new trajectory of her new music. “The new stuff is raw, I’m not holding my tongue anymore,” she gushes as she elaborates. “You gone get it! What I’m doing now is exactly what I want to do. Not just lyrically. I’m talking production wise, even in terms of art work, conceptually making sure everything is detailed and on point.” The projects being put out range from a mixtape Who is Yani the Rebel as well as a live album that is tentatively scheduled to come out in 2014.
The sky is the limit for this artist on the move—her stirring message of love and peace awakens the soul and is a staunch contrast to much of the shallowness that has now infiltrated hip-hop. I’m certain there’s a larger niche out there for this refreshing voice—her growing fan base suggests that there is. While it’s safe to say that fame patiently looms around the corner for this preacher’s kid from New York, commercial gain isn’t the goal. At least for right now it isn’t. Even so, there’s no doubt that in due time she’ll be credited for her inspirational art and immense heart.
Check out Yani and the Peace People’s website to purchase music as well as a wide range of memorabilia. Follow on Yani on twitter for more on Yani and the band and their upcoming events and music. - Andrea Dwyer


"Sound Check: Yani"

Until interviewing this Atlanta emcee, I always looked at peace as a destination and not a journey. Yani and her peace movement is changing that for me. While she is very experimental in her lyricism and musicianship–including forming a live band–the emcee maintains her message of peace, even through our most trying times. SoulTrain.com sat down with Yani to talk about her Peace People movement, her upcoming projects and the power of peace and the organ.

SoulTrain.com: Who and what are your influences?

Yani: My dad is a pastor, so I was raised on gospel music. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio much, so the closest thing I could get to that my friends were listening to was neo-soul. I was able to listen to Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and India.Arie growing up. Now, my influences are more like Cee-lo Green, still Erykah, Lupe in terms of his content and music, Common, Mos Def, just people talking about something in their music and keep me going with my effort to get my music out.

SoulTrain.com: In your EP The Storyteller, I really enjoyed how you experimented with the song “First Sight” where the beat would slow down then speed up where there was a lot of breath control involved. Where did that come from?

Yani: That was our own little thing we came up with, my main producer Real Soon and myself. The approach we take is very experimental because we take risks in terms of the sound, so even with the speed up/slow down thing people would say “that’s absolutely foolish” or “that’s not gonna get on the radio,” and we were like “well, we don’t care!” Plus, it goes along with theme of the song. That’s the approach we took for the entire album, throwing little quirky things in there like jazz and swing music. We also wanted to make sure it wasn’t all over the place.

SoulTrain.com: You guys were successful in making sure it wasn’t all over the place, too. How will you be experimenting with your upcoming work?

Yani: The Storyteller had live instrumentation in it but it was just under Yani. Now I have a live band with me so it’s Yani and The Peace People. It’s bringing additional souls and ideas into the mix, and it make things better, more soulful and heartfelt. We’re incorporating more synths, more pads, more drumming and more organ sounds. And that’s just so real to me, the organ, because that brings power in music. It will be cohesive but you’ll know what’s real and what’s not. It’ll be like a No Doubt-The Roots mash-up where it’s danceable but we definitely get our message across.

SoulTrain.com: You mention the organ is important. Beyond your dad being a pastor, can you tell me how it’s important for you musically?

Yani: If I could give one example–and I grew up in the church so that’s my reference for a lot of things–if you think of shout music, it’s driven by the organ and the sounds coming from it. Even in terms of spirituality like Buddhism and meditation there are certain vibrations that make people feel good and bring a certain type of peace. If I put the two together I’m making music that brings that kind of vibration, especially in hip-hop being what it already is. I want to use the organ most because it strikes a chord in people.

SoulTrain.com: As far as content goes, what will we hear lyrically?

Yani: I know people expect to hear about peace and love, but we’re taking it a step further in how we envision the world as it looks now. We’re talking about how we want to live as Peace People. “Yani” means peace, so peace is always gonna be part of the message but now we’re letting people know what they can do to be in the movement. It’s a little rebellious and edgy, it’s also a lot of fun, some people might think it’s a little weird, but it’s us. It’s soulful, encouraging, inspirational and positive. That’s what people should expect to hear on the project. Before that, we’re dropping a live EP called Yani & The Peace People Live In The ATL so people get an idea of how we sound.

SoulTrain.com: When does the live EP come out?

Yani: In October.

SoulTrain.com: What about the album?

Yani: Hopefully in May. It feels so much like a summer album because it’s fun and it has the feel of something you play as you do summer things, like a road trip. We could drop it at the top of 2014 but I want the world to be ready for it and I’m preparing myself for it, too. Also by then we’ll be prepared to tour all over once the album drops.

SoulTrain.com: So are you afraid of waiting too long?

Yani: Oh no. The album will come out in 2014, even if I have to get on somebody’s keyboards and do the thing myself, it’s coming! But no, I’m just being patient and building a buzz. There will be other music dropping in the meantime. I have the Who Is Yani series continuing with Who Is Yani: The Rebel, then we’ll have the mixtape The Peace People featuring more of the band.

SoulTrain.com: Let’s talk about your Peace People movement. You have the apparel, the buttons, all kind of merch relative to the movement that’s somewhat tied to your music. What made you wanna go into that, other than pushing the message of peace?

Yani: We’re all about peace, unity and love. Over the years, people took a liking to my style and would ask where I got this or that, so I decided to make my style available to people so they wouldn’t have to look too far to find it. Also, it’s another way for people to identify who a Peace Person is. It’s funny because at another artist’s show a person wearing the button ran into someone wearing the Peace People crewneck, and they sparked up a conversation about the whole movement at this show. It’s a conversation starter for people who don’t even know about the movement. We just wanna meet people wherever they’re at and whatever that looks like.

SoulTrain.com: You have all this stuff going on in the name of peace with you in charge of all of it. How do you keep the peace and stay sane?

Yani: It depends on the day. I have to keep myself sane enough to keep things going, but because I’m so dedicated to this when I feel that people aren’t getting it, it can drive me crazy. People are out there supporting garbage, and so engrossed in it that when you come with substance and quality they reject it. From our food to our radio, in an attempt to be an antidote and heal it becomes very hard as you are met with almost impossible obstacles. So sanity is optional. It really depends on the day.

Keep up with Yani on her website www.whoisyani.com for all her social media links as well as connecting to The Peace People store! - Starletta Watson


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Bio

For the last 5 years YaNi & The Peace People have traveled the US as an alternative Hip Hop band. Playing at hundreds of venues, they incorporate elements of jazz, rock, funk, gospel and soul as they keep hip-hop’s powerful way of storytelling at the heart of every song, every show, and every appearance. YaNi & The Peace People believe in bringing people together through music with a message that warms the coldest heart, makes the most still bodies move and gets the necks of intergenerational audiences rockin! YaNi & The Peace People band is a push towards a world with better music, especially in the genre of hip hop. Summer 2016 they will release their first album as a band entitled "ReKreation." This crew of creatives are looking forward to expanding their commitment to bringing the peace, and being the peace while making bodies jump, sway and rock with them each time they hit the stage! 

Band Members