Birth of a hip-hop organization, male!

“I’m not a businessman. I’m a small business, male!” — Jay Z, rapper, entrepreneur, billionaire.

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Yusef Shelton is getting a very superior November — in spite of being in pandemic lockdown, that is.


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The Homewood-centered artist, entrepreneur and motivational speaker gained Place Park University’s inaugural Vigor, Vibe and Venture competition this month — an honor that came with a $10,000 check out to enable secure a sound foundation for a recording career and a platform for inspiring youthful Black men in Pittsburgh.

Along with the prize dollars to be offered in a ceremony at the school’s Downtown campus in December, Mr. Shelton will receive a calendar year of business enterprise mentoring and internet marketing input from Over to Underneath, a Pittsburgh-based advertising corporation.

Mr. Shelton also turned 24 this thirty day period, and, wanting back again, he can see the pathway that landed him at the leading of Issue Park’s “Shark Tank”-like competition.

“I’ve wanted to be an artist due to the fact I was 13 decades previous, nevertheless I didn’t get started using it significantly until 2019,” he mentioned. “Before I gained this competitiveness, I was however discovering how to position myself to be an entrepreneur.”

It was his curiosity in the intersection of new music, business and motivating young people — primarily Black adult males and boys — that prompted a good friend who attends Stage Park to persuade the Homewood resident to enter the opposition.

While not a pupil at the university himself, the budding businessman and rapper invested a semester at Albright College in Reading, Pa., researching communications with a small in songs business in advance of dropping out in 2016 only to find use for college once more four yrs later on.

It’s been a extended road.

Mainly because of his Christian faith, there is an aesthetic bias in his new music toward positivity, self-esteem, and respecting all people and genders that is normally missing from significantly of mainstream rap and hip-hop. Just smiling as a great deal as Yusef Shelton does in his videos and remixes on YouTube and various social media platforms makes him an outlier.

“Honestly, I feel that my new music has the skill to be mainstream tunes,” he mentioned. “I do not have to portray being a person other than who I definitely am. That is why I go by my initials, ‘Ys1’ — Yusef Shelton Da 1st, which is only a reminder to me to be my authentic, original self.

“Also, my new music is the present automobile that I use to force ahead the concept of getting your purpose and becoming your genuine self.”

That incorporates leaning into his particular mix of geographic roots.

“I’m from Pittsburgh, so I am the seem of Pittsburgh with some Jersey slang, but it is unique due to the fact it is me,” he claimed.

Mr. Shelton lived in Phillipsburg, N.J., for seven several years but used his formative years in Homewood. After leaving college or university, he returned to Pittsburgh to recalibrate his goals and obtain his intent.

In many methods, his ambitions were in line with people of lots of Black youth, primarily when he was more youthful.

“I watched my older cousin and his buddies rap escalating up,” he stated. “I was 6 a long time previous when I wrote my initial rap. My initial desire was to go to the NFL and, like the the greater part of Black athletes from the internal town, I had a magic formula want to rap as effectively.”

That professional soccer career factor didn’t pan out, but the new music dream stayed potent.

His inspirations came from a combine of sources: “In my teenager yrs, I listened to a lot of Eric Thomas, the hip-hop preacher, and admired Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.,” he claimed.

Ys1, as he is generally termed, also was encouraged by an aunt who pastors a church and a youth pastor who encouraged him to use his talent to encourage Black youth.

“I take into consideration my new music to be political since I handle the systems place in location that oppress my men and women,” he mentioned.

Mr. Shelton formulated his musical type by researching all those who came prior to him. He was a large fan of Soulja Boy, T.I., Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa and a childhood ideal close friend named Gettem, who was murdered. These days, Ys1 is most encouraged by Tobe Nwigwe, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Tierra Whack and D Smoke.

Prior to the pandemic hit, he had executed dwell at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Local community Forge, Westinghouse Significant College “and a ton of open up mics all-around the town.” He was creating a following and putting collectively a motivational speaker/rap tour for Pittsburgh Public Educational facilities when the lockdown upended everyone’s greatest-laid programs.

Successful the level of competition at Point Park aided refocus his energy and his message.

“A year back, I was rapping into my cracked iPad screen and uploading the movies on social media,” he claimed. “Now that I have created momentum, I’m in a situation to release original songs that will get me regarded as an artist and perhaps set me on tour.” 

Yusef Shelton has experienced to sell the idea of pursuing rap as a job to individuals who adore him most.

“My relatives might not have always been the most fired up about me generating music,” he stated, “however, there was some aid. They nonetheless felt like I really should do one thing this sort of as functioning a traditional job until eventually I could do my artwork comprehensive-time.”

Mr. Shelton received a position on the janitorial team of the College of Pittsburgh Group Engagement Heart in Homewood. He also performs with young children in an after-school application named Maker’s Clubhouse at the Bible Heart Church exactly where he handles the soundboard for Sunday companies.

Successful the level of competition cemented his marriage with Stage Park University, where he is helping to create a system to assistance internal-metropolis youth “discover their passion and objective.”

“Winning this contest presents me the indicates to do what I’m previously undertaking on a higher magnitude. Now I can launch original new music videos weekly as a substitute of remixes.”

Section of Mr. Shelton’s extended-phrase system is to sign up his music, get grounded in enterprise under sensible mentors, and build his skills as a musician and defeat-maker — just like his quite a few heroes in the genre. He also desires to create his model into a self-sustaining vocation that has a positive impact on youthful men and women.

“The pandemic basically opened extra doors of possibility than 1 could visualize,” Mr. Shelton claimed. “I remain in a peaceful state of thoughts, inspite of what’s likely on in modern society, by remaining in my function.”

Tony Norman: [email protected] or 412-263-1631. Twitter @Tony_NormanPG.

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