|Birth name||Yashar Zadeh|
|Born||13 April 1982|
|Origin||Flushing, Queens, New York, United States|
|Years active||1998 - present|
Eastern Conference Records
Definitive Jux Records
|Associated acts||The Weathermen
|Website||Yak Ballz Myspace|
Yak Ballz, born Yashar Zadeh is an American independent hip hop artist, who was brought up in Flushing, Queens, New York. He is one of the original members of The Weathermen. He is also a member of Cardboard City.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Breaking Out
- 3 Followup Releases
- 4 Current Work and education
- 5 Selected discography
- 6 Notes and references
- 7 External links
In his youth, Yak spent a lot of his time using his imagination and creativity to draw and paint. He became enamored with the rebel art of graffiti. He was inspired by Cost, Revs, Uend, and his TCK (True City Killers) brethren. Yak turned to writing as an outlet for expression and a form of therapy due to his mother being overprotective about their neighborhood in Queens at the time. Thanks to his best friend’s older brother, Vaz (of 89.9-FM WKCR’s legendary “Night Train” hip-hop show), while in high school Yak landed a gig interning at Bobbito Garcia’s Footwork store in downtown Manhattan where he saw a myriad of flyers promoting Hip Hop shows all over the city. At the age of 16 he entered the Braggin’ Rites MC battle; he took second place and was the youngest person in the competition. Yak would go on to achieve first runner-up honors two more times after that, but more importantly, the aspiring MC grabbed the attention of several interested people in attendance, including Armando “Mondee” Torres and Brett Scott, who approached Vaz about getting Yak to appear on their new mixtape. At the urging of Vaz, the MC agreed to work with Mondee. This would lead to a lasting music relationship. He is of Persian heritage.
Bobbito Garcia, world renown radio personality known for breaking records and introducing new talent in New York City during the Indie Hip Hop boom in the mid to late 90’s, liked Yak’s demo, Flossin’, so much that he put it in rotation on his CM Famalam show on 89.9-FM WKCR in New York. He later invited Yak to appear on the show in 1998. After a few impressive appearances on WKCR, and Flossin’ gaining regular rotation, Bobbito approached Yak about some new original music. Yak's lyrics caught the attention of Cage, who was impressed enough to reach out to him; making him an original member of The Weathermen.
In 2001, Yak followed up the EP with a stand-out 3 song vinyl 12-inch, The Freakshow, which was one of the first ever 12-inch releases by the indie Hip Hop label Definitive Jux.Vinyl specialty stores and Web sites quickly sold out of the three-song 12-inch that featured cover art by TCK brother Ewok One 5MH. El-P even included The Freak Show on 2002’s Definitive Jux Presents 2 compilation album.
While You Where Sleeping
In 2003, he released While You Were Sleeping b/w The Drill 12-inch with Traffic Entertainment. Once Eastern Conference Records, then home to fellow Weathermen; Cage and Tame One, heard of this single they moved to sign Yak to an album deal. After working on The Weathermen’s Conspiracy mixtape (2003) Yak Ballz released his first album, My Claim in 2004 with guest appearances from both Cage and Tame One. He worked with producer Mondee for production and engineer Joe Raia. His lyrical content on My Claim was fueled by his Queens life and college experiences. After leaving Eastern Conference, Yak put out a mixtape in 2005, The Missing Cassettes consisting of rare and unreleased material.
In 2006 he released Scifentology, a mixtape put out by Yak himself and Scifen clothing company which features cover art by Ewok One 5MH. Yak’s lyrics became more introspective and the beats changed on Scifentology by relying more on rock and synthesized instrumentation. The mixtape started as an innocent idea and promotional tool to help cross-market Yak with the Scifen clothing brand, but it quickly became one of the most talked-about mixtapes of the year within the indie Hip Hop world in ‘06.
January 2008, Yak released his sophomore effort, Scifentology II on FloSpot Records in conjunction with Scifen Clothing. Scifentology II features production from the likes of Aesop Rock, the late Camu Tao, Mondee, Chapter 7, Adept, and Chris Maestro TCK. It also has guest appearances from Cage, Tame One and Slow Suicide Stimulus. The album is packed tight with cathartic rhymes of grit, wit, shuddering images, and has received critical acclaim. Ewok One 5MH, premier urban artist and senior designer for Scifen clothing, also designed Scifentology II's full-color cover. Feb 2009, “Dirt Empire,” produced by Aesop Rock, won the MTVu Best Freshman Video with over 40,000 views.
Current Work and education
Currently, Yak is working on an extended play called 'Gas Galaxy', due out on Definitive Jux sometime in fall of 2009. Yak has performed the title song in support of Cage's Depart From Me tour. Yak is a graduate from New Paltz State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.
- My Claim (Eastern Conference Records/Caroline - 2004)+
- Scifentology I (Scifen Records - 2006)
- Scifentology II (FloSpot Records- 2008)
12 Inch Releases
- "Homepiss" / "Nasty or Nice" b/w "The Plague" / "Flossin" (Fondle'em Records - 2000)
- "The Freakshow" b/w "For the Critics"/ "Reign" (Definitive Jux Records - 2001)
- "The Drill" b/w "While You Were Sleeping" (Jersey Roots Entertainment/Traffic - 2003)
- “Flossin” - Farewell Fondle'em (Definitive Jux Records - 2001)
- "The Freakshow" Definitive Jux Presents II (Definitive Jux Records – 2002)
- "5 Left in the Clip" with The Weathermen - Eastern Conference Allstars III (Eastern Conference Records - 2003)
- "Let the Games Begin" feat. Vast Aire - Eastern Conference Allstars IV (Eastern Conference Records - 2004)
- 2003: "5 Left in The Clip" b/w "5 Left in The Clip Remix" 12-inch from The Weathermen album (Eastern Conference Records)
- 2004: "Got Wet?" from the Leak Bros (Cage and Tame One) album Waterworld (Eastern Conference Records)
- 2004: "High Fidelity" from the Tame One album "O.G. Bobby Johnson" (Eastern Conference Records)
- 2005: "Get Da Duh" 12-Inch with Kosha Dillz (Matza 4 Yo’ Mouf Records)
- 2005: "Left It To Us" from the Cage album Hell's Winter feat. The Weathermen (Aesop Rock, El-P, Tame One, Cage, Yak Ballz) (Definitive Jux Records)
- 2006: "Antidote" from the Slow Suicide Stimulus album Slow Suicide Stimulus (FloSpot Records)
- 2006: "Say Cheese" from the Slow Suicide Stimulus album Slow Suicide Stimulus (FloSpot Records)
- 2009: “The Baskervilles (AmpLive Die Hard Remix)” from the Fight Night Round 4 Soundtrack feat Aesop Rock and Yak Ballz
- 2009: "Corruption As Usual" and "Chromatics (CCM)" from the Chapter 7 album "The Color Scheme"
- 2005: The Missing Cassettes
- 2006: Scifentology: The Mixtape
Notes and references
- Cusenza, M. (2007, 27 Dec). One of Flushing's Finest Drops Second CD. Queens Tribune
- Piroli, M. (Vol. 5 Issue 56). "Yak Ballz". Elemental Magazine, 68-70
- allmusic (((Freak Show)))
- allmusic ((( The Conspiracy Overview)))
- allmusic ((( My Claim Overview )))
- Herman, M. (Vol. 7 Issue 79). "Team Scifen". Elemental Magazine, 50-51
- allmusic ((( Scifentology II Overview)))
- MTVu (((Dirt Empire)))