Thanks to soulhead contributor Erin Duncan for hipping us to this talented new jazzy and soulful singer, Yellokake, from Detroit. Atmostpheric, groovy and sparse, this is a cool debut. We dig the sound and look forward to hearing more. Enjoy.
Yellokakes moniker is based on a desserther slogan reads, They were starving for good music, let them eat KAKEbut her music is a full course meal. The Michigan-based vocalists sound is an amalgam of the R&B and pop music of her generation, the classical jazz she studied in college, and the hip-hop she lends contributing vocals to.
A child of parents who passionately supported the arts, Jasmine Yellokake Hamilton-Wray sang along to legends like Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul before taking a musical workshop as a child. She would later exercise her skills in talent shows and at school, reworking Faith Evans ballads into homework assignments and singing the Black National Anthem during African American studies. Despite accolades from schoolmates and others, she became frustrated when she was refused roles she auditioned for in musicals and bands.
She spoke to Michigan State University jazz professor Rodney Whitaker, and she transferred to Michigan State Universitys Jazz Studies program. From there, she meticulously trained her voice and continued to sharpen songwriting skills that she had discovered in high school.
That sound was first utilized when area hip-hop artists, including her crew BLAT! Pack, would enlist her strong, harmonious voice for choruses or back-up vocals. Nationally-lauded acts like Jahshua Smith, P.H.I.L.T.H.Y., and more all laud her praises. But Yellokakes solo material is much more diverse. Her lyrics delve into romantic connections and her relationship with herself.
That honesty translates into her shows and her records. Her live performances pair a jazz-tinged live band set up with the bounce and youthful energy of hip-hop, and her upcoming EP, Gradation, blends those influences with alternative music and electronic elements.