Daily Yinz – Ramon Yancey – Empathy

Motormouthed rapper Ramon Yancey returns with something even more DIY than a mixtape: a SoundCloud playlist called Okaywein.

Ever since I heard Yancey annihilating beats on “Haunting” (a 2019 collaboration with Shamar), he’s reminded me of André 3000. It’s not an exact one-to-one (I don’t even know if Yancey has been to Atlanta before), but the nasal twang, the breakneck speed at which his words tumble out, the lyrics that fuse narrative and wordplay–all common elements, and Okaywein highlight “Empathy” did nothing to change my mind about the comp. An airy funk instrumental, sped up to a brisk, skipping tempo, evokes a caffeinated Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik beat, and Yancey matches its pace with bars that span centuries. We’ve got ancient Egypt shout-outs (“I started from the ground up, similar to the Sphinx”), references to Pittsburgh’s obsession with isolating Black neighborhoods (“There’ll be a highway where I stay before you can blink”), and a vividly rendered tangent involving Megabus-bound brainstorms (“I wrote this rhyme on my way up to State College”), dirty looks brushed off like flies (“I ain’t share a seat because my size won’t allow it/Some people glared and pouted, but I ain’t care about it”), and a summary of Malcolm X’s life history. By the end, Yancey is full-on singing; 3 Stacks would be proud.

Check out more from Ramon Yancey and follow on Instagram

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