STORIES

Tyla Yaweh Takes his Music Higher

By David Jenison on May 8, 2019

Tyla Yaweh used to work part-time at a Dunkin' Donuts in Orlando. He didn't need the money that came from shilling coffee and bear claws, but he did need some type of legit job to explain why he had cash. His main hustle eventually got Yaweh kicked out of his family home, and he headed out west with his music, skateboard and a DIY mentality that eventually got the attention of Post Malone and London Entertainment. 

With a record deal in hand, Yaweh went big in 2018 with the single "She Bad" (from his F the Rules EP) and extensive touring with Post Malone. Now he's pushing for new heights in 2019 with his full-length debut, Heart Full of Rage. He already released a concert video for the single "High Right Now" with an official video that just dropped. PRØHBTD met with Yaweh at the Epic Records office in Los Angeles to discuss his new album, skateboarding and his favorite strains. Yaweh definitely came prepared.

You grew up in Orlando, which is home to the "happiest place on Earth." How was your experience growing up different from the Disney stereotype?

That's celebration. It's Orlando, but it's not Orlando. That's what people don't know. But, yeah, I loved growing up in Orlando, and it taught me a lot, from the streets to music to skateboarding to wildlife to advice from OGs and my parents and grandparents. I had to get away from it because of the lifestyles out there. There's a hood in every state, every city, and the hood will suck you in and leave you dead or in jail, so I had to get out of it.

What’s the most important life lesson you learned growing up there?

Don't sell drugs.

How did you learn that?

All my homies are locked up for a long time. It was really eye opening for me. They told me, "Yo bro, it's not worth sitting in a box for 26 years. Keep making your music. That is your life. This is not your life anymore."

Did you sell?

You know, I had to do what I had to do.

Nothing you wanna go on the record with?

No.

An online clip shows you and your friends smoking out on Rodeo Drive [in Beverly Hills]. Did you get hassled at all?

No, I always smoke on Rodeo. I always spark a blunt after I walk out of a store. Like, spark a blunt, then go back in the store, buy some shit. I started with my homie PnB Rock, and we always do whatever we want. Fuck the rules.

Tell me about "High Right Now."

It's actually a cool story. It's about a 24-hour Vegas trip. I had to be in the studio the next day, and I just went out that night in Vegas and partied for my homie's birthday and did not sleep at all. I took a little hour nap, woke up, ate some breakfast in this big ass suite, and then started drinking Henny. I started feeling a little too lit, so I'm like, "Why am I getting so lit?" Then I find out that they slipped Molly in my Henny. It was like, "Damn, I'm up all the way."

I went to the casino, and then this guy is like, "Where are you? You gotta go, you have a session today, I need you to get back here. It's gonna take you 'bout three, four, six hours to get back." When I got there, we made this song.

What did you want to capture with the songs on Heart Full of Rage?

I wanted to capture all the moments and all the different emotions that I've been through. I wanted to keep the fun but still put a message out to the world in a positive way and encourage the youth in any type of way, to inspire them. I made music with all types of different emotions, from songs to rage out to like "High Right Now" to a song like "Salute" for going to a club and then to "Who Shot Johnny?" about a story in my hood that anybody else can relate to in their hood. All the songs have so many different emotions that we can all relate to, and all I wanna do is just spread that emotion.

Your EP featured the single "She Bad." Did any girls ask if it was about them?

Nah. But I had some females hit me up for certain songs on my project asking, "Yo, was this song about our relationship? Was this song about us?" I'm like, "Nah, this is about a whole different girl."

None of them were right?

Nah, none of them, but one of the girls knows.

Where did you learn to sing?

I've been singing my whole life. My sister, my family, they all sing. It's something you are just born with, like a muscle.

Do you remember your first live performance as a singer?

Yeah, I was in chorus.

Okay.

I had to. I was actually forced to be in chorus in sixth grade. They made me the lead singer because I actually had a good voice. I hated that period.

Why did you hate it?

I wanted to be in the gym.

The girls who were in chorus, too, used to fuck with me even more because they're like, "Damn, we didn't know you could actually sing!" That's how I knew I could sing.

Another clip shows you messing around with Jimmy Fallon in New York. How did that come about?

We were just drunk at an Irish pub that he goes to, and we were with Post [Malone] because he just shot The Tonight Show. Jimmy, Post and I were drunk and playing pool, and then we just started rap battling. I let him win, though. I was like, "Yeah, do your thing." He's a comedian, and a good one at that.

You've talked before about tough times in your youth, like living out of a car. What happened, and how did you improve your situation?

I moved straight from Florida to LA with a few friends. My homies weren't moving here, they were just like, "Yo, we gonna support you and go out there with you, so you're not by yourself for the first few weeks." We connected with people, we went to the studio and then there were just vibes off of that. Then my bro was like, "Yo, I gotta go home." He dropped me off in Venice Beach with a bag and a skateboard. I had a few grand in my pocket, but I had to save it. I was like, "I can't really be buying food, I can't be buying nothing. I have to really survive off it." I slept on Fairfax, slept on Melrose, used to sleep on rooftops and stuff.

Eli Gold, who started [the skate brand] DGK, is one of my good friends. His baby mom would not let me stay at their crib for nothing, and it was alright. I'm not gonna fight, he's not gonna fight. It's not my spot, not my place to be, so he used to let me sleep in his car. Then, when she left for work, I went into the crib, took a shower, probably took a nap, and then went hustling all day. We did the same thing every day until I found a hustle, got some money, got a crib, and that's my life.

Why Venice Beach?

I never really seen Venice Beach. I'd just moved out there, so it was like, "Fuck it, let's just try it."

The beach has bathrooms at least.

Yeah, it's dope. Being homeless made me appreciate life so much. All the little small things.

How did you connect with Post?

Through Tes [Siyoum] and Dre London, my whole management team. We just became really good friends. It was organic. I opened up for [Post Malone] four years before, and he remembered me from that. It was just meant to happen, you know?

Four years later, I moved to LA and ran into him again. It was off an Instagram post of me saying, "I'm independent. I'm doing all this myself. I'm working by myself. I'm booking shows by myself. I'm building a fan base by myself." Tes saw that and sent it over to Dre London, and he was like, "Yo, this kid is fire." I ended up getting in the studio with his artist and they sent it back to him like, "Who is this kid? This song is crazy!" They were showing it to everybody. Then I was like, "Yo, this is the team to be around." They just support. And Post is always there supporting at all times, giving me advice, making sure he's putting his ten cents in. It's just dope to have him around.

Do you have a favorite dispensary here in Los Angeles? Or do people just bring you stuff?

Well, I got a lot of dope friends who own a lot of dope weed companies so… I get the big bags. I'm actually smoking a pound of some Sunset Sherbet myself, and I got a bag of Uptown at the crib just waiting for me.

Yaweh takes out a few jars of cannabis to show off the quality of his buds. He clearly comes prepared at all times.

Is it fair to say it's better in Cali than Florida?

Oh yeah, but you can still get Cali in Florida. I smoke Cali in Florida when I'm out there.

Do you have a favorite?

Runtz, Gelato, Sherbinski, Billy Kimber, Skittles, Sunset Sherbet. Smell that.

Yaweh places a jar near my nose.

That looks beautiful, too.

Yeah, it's super beautiful. Gushers. The homie Seven Leaves owns a company that I fuck with. They make this GMO Cake that is so fire. Wedding Cake. I just love flavors. Anything that got good flavors in it, I'm with it.

You've been skateboarding your whole life?

Yeah, I been skating my whole life. A lot of my friends are pro skaters now. I could've been one if I really wanted to, but I'm not trying to break no legs or arms no more.

Did you break something?

I broke my leg, I broke this wrist like three times, fractured my arm, concussions, all types of shit. Fucked myself up.

Do you still skate?

I skate flat ground and play around on a ledge, and I'll play some games of SKATE if someone wants to throw some money down on the floor. SKATE is like playing HORSE: You have to do each trick that the other person does. If you don't land, you get an S, and if you don't land again, you get the K. You gotta spell out S-K-A-T-E.

Berrics is a huge skate park out here, and every year they have a whole bracket of pro skaters who enter in a game of SKATE to win a hundred thousand dollars or something. It's going into X-Games this year, too.

Do you see any similarities between underground skate culture and underground music? Maybe a similar mentality, similar attitude?

Oh, for sure. It's like that underground don't give a fuck. Do what you want. We live life. Hang out with women, smoke weed, do the fun things in life, you know? Pretty rebellious.

Which of your tattoos represents the most historic moment in your life that you wanted to immortalize?

When I got my eyelids tatted, bro.

He shows off his eyelids, which say "GOOD VIBES."

I did this in Sweden probably four weeks ago.

Did it hurt to tattoo your eyelids?

Nah, it didn't hurt at all. But that was a moment. I was like, "Yo, I'm getting my eyelids tatted, no one got balls to do that. Only a few."

What's next?

I just want to keep pushing this project until it goes fucking diamond, you know? Heart Full of Rage: low key rage in a hard top.

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