While Hong Kong has seen a huge resurgence in the hip hop scene in recent years, Tyson Yoshi, one of its leading lights, is aiming to broaden its impact, and will be performing his first international show on November 22 at The Wall Music in Taipei.
Ahead of the show, Young Post spoke to him about his debut album 1st, why he left hip hop label Greytone to go independent, and his break-out single To My Queen.
“It was the first song I wrote in Mandarin,” says Yoshi, who dropped the single in July last year.
“My girlfriend and I were celebrating a year together, so instead of buying her a gift or taking her out for dinner, I wanted to do something memorable,” he recalls.
During work, Yoshi jotted down the lyrics, before heading home to record the song.
“I gave it to her and posted it on Instagram before going to sleep. When I woke up the next day, suddenly my Instagram was exploding with comments, and I thought – maybe I’ve done something that people actually like!”
After it was advertised, targeting audiences in Taiwan and China, his subsequent To My Queen music video racked up more than 600,000 views on YouTube.
The track also features on the 25-year-old’s debut album 1st, which came out in September.
“Normally I’ll have a topic, and start with one word, like for the song Stranger, I started with just that word, and expanded the whole story in my head,” the singer said.
“Normally I can get the song down in a few hours because if someone’s next to you, you don’t want to waste their time – because they need to get on with other things. So that situation really pushes me to get the lyrics right in a really short period of time.”
Despite the fast-paced nature of creating his first album, Yoshi, who studied in Britain before returning to Hong Kong, pays extra attention to the visual side of his career, whether it’s a high-quality music video for Don’t Care (released last month), or his social media posts.
Justifying this approach, he reveals, “I tend to go the other side of what hip hop presents. I wanted everything, down to every detail, to feel like a luxury product – but for a piece of music.”
With this steady stream of content, Yoshi’s rise hasn’t wavered, despite having made the tough decision to leave local indie label Greytone, whose roster include local hip hop artists JB, Keni, Mael and W. Lin.
“[It] felt like a team, but I always felt a lot of pressure with that because I’ve got a nine-to-five job,” he admits. “Time is quite flexible for some of them, so they can do mid-week shows, take trips to other countries for gigs and come back, but I can’t. Every time I said ‘no’ to things, I felt I was letting them down – so I thought it’d be better if I managed myself.”
Many artists would consider this a risky strategy, especially when trying to balance a music career with full-time work, but it seems to be paying off for Yoshi, with his music resonating with friends and fans alike.
He states with a smile, “Yeah, they were quite surprised how hip hop can be like this.”