Premiere • JoFred Estilo: "Yellow Boy"

For Chicago rapper JoFred Estilo, legacy means just about everything, and shows as much on his TheseDays premiere of his latest single "Yellow Boy". Tulpa, the title of his upcoming mixtape derives from eastern mysticism, meaning something that is created through sheer spiritual and mental discipline, manifested in reality. You could say JoFred's music is his Tulpa.

JoFred Estilo grew up in Bolingbrook in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Me being a northwest suburbanite, I’ve learned that the surrounding Chicagoland area, much like the city itself, is a diverse breeding ground for talented hip hop acts. With JoFred being an Asian American rapper, the title “Yellow Boy” comes as no surprise. Like Estilo himself, hip hop was built on authentic representation, and as a songwriter this implies one must say what they mean and mean what they say in order to be taken seriously. On “Yellow Boy”, Jofred Estilo does just that.

“Yellow Boy” produced by Meltycanon and Chinza//Fly is the next single from JoFred Estilo’s forthcoming TULPA mixtape, set to drop near the end of this month. After a hiatus from music, the Chicago - via - west coast rapper has had a steady flow of releases over the past few months. “Yellow Boy”, as well as “Problems” and “RING RING,” a Meltycanon/Ishmael Raps collaboration, show the melodic side of Estilo’s increasingly evident versatility. I know of JoFred more so as an aggressively charged rapper from my days as a lyricist growing up in Illinois, and I didn’t feel a sense of nostalgia in his recent releases until I came across his song “Little Cub.” Little Cub had the more rugged delivery I was accustomed to hearing from Estilo in the past, but he balanced it with an unexpectedly soft hook that worked smoothly.  A lot has happened since 2010, and like a true artist JoFred touched on these subjects and how he deals with frustrations we can all relate to. He’s 23 years old now, and maybe that’s young, but I didn’t get that impression from the voice recording he sent me a couple days ago. I got a chance to hear him speak about his goals his inspirations and what it means to be an Asian American rapper in the hip hop community. Take a look.

What do you aspire to accomplish with your art?

A: Really the thing about music is everybody makes music for themselves but the same time I know that everything I do is bigger than me. Now when I say that it’s like, I aspire to influence, I aspire to create something long lasting, I aspire to help my family with my art, create something new to create new waves, I don’t to ride anyone’s wave, but really the main driven thing right now for me, is to become the first Asian American artist who is known for just, good music. 

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m just trying to get the roll out for TULPA and get it out and have people really recognize my music and get to know me. Since I haven’t really put anything out this is my first project and I’m like really proud of it. I’m really pushing for a new sound hoping I can just make some kind of reaction, especially for the Asian American community. I think I’m the greatest Asian rapper alive, actually I know so. I’ve seen the competition, I’ve seen who’s out there and I know that nobody is making music like me or anybody in my squad.

What about after TULPA?

After that I’m working on a studio album, just some kind of solo project. Anything with a title I’m not really sure what to call it, but I’m working on a project since I just became apart of Private Stock. Coming out of Private Stock(Chicago studio/record label) this is going to be my first project under them and I’m just going to be working with producers I know personally so I can physically sit down in the studio with them and cultivate something and see it come to fruition in front of my eyes and really have an hands on detailed experience with this project. So TULPA first and just you know, back to back with another project and seeing what crazy s*** comes with it. 

Has Chicago played a role in your artistic development?

I honestly believe there’s a renaissance happening in Chicago right now. Like I said I’m with Private Stock now so you have people like L.A. VanGogh who’s such a lyrical dude but he’s also very melodic, his instrumentation is crazy he has a really unique voice. Papi Beatz, Vic Mensa’s producer is also on Private Stock, it really shows the diversity we have. But honestly just everybody coming out of Chicago, Chance, Noname Gypsy, Saba. You have these really lyrical artists that give a whole different vibe to music really putting on for the city, and they make music with longevity and quality, it’s not just no Soundcloud bull****. It really makes a person want to hone their craft, it’s such a cultured city with a lot of deep rooted character in instrumentation and composing music. So yeah Chicago plays a huge role in my artistic development you know. It really pushes everybody to their boundaries and to do something original. We’re all trying to cultivate a new sound, we’re always trying to progress and do something new, and you really feel that in Chicago, you really feel like, a hunger.