In Conversation: Jodi.10k Talks Growing Up in Harlem and His Excellent New Album YOUNGBULL

Jodi.10k’s new album YUNGBULL is held together by the musings of a young woman. On second track “PP” that woman, none other than the talented Aida Osman, drops lines like, “If I get high I’m not thinking anymore,” and “Using other people’s bodies as drugs that’s fucked up, I do that a lot”. She realizes that all her choices might not be the best but what is the use of youth if it’s not made of experiences that we grow from, both positive and negative. Our needs, both physical and mental, must be taken care of in a world deprived of decency for years. We’re told by our forefathers to stand up straight knowing they’ve been just as hunched over as us their whole lives. YUNGBULL is the audio representation of that leap off the porch and into ones adolescence and early adulthood. On the album intro, “Pardon” Jodi laments that he wants to be wanted, which we all do. As maturity comes with age, we learn to manage our need to make ourselves feel desirable, but the virility of youth now makes it appear as if it is literally the only thing that matters. When that young woman talks about, “us[ing] other people’s bodies like drugs,” the drug is validation. Jodi gives us an existential crisis on “PP”. The instrumental sounds like staring at your ceiling on a Saturday morning, not sure of what to make of the future of our planet or anything else. 

Jodi doesn’t need to tell you he’s from New York, it’s apparent in his essence. His shit talk, slang, and beat selection are all representative of how this new vanguard of rappers are reshaping the NYC underground in their image, while still indebted to those who passed them the torch. Jodi often mixes his thoughts on life with the cult of youth he experiences daily. He drops relatable bars about his shortcomings in his parental relationships next to bars about his exploits at functions in a way that feels completely natural. As he puts it on “Link”, the Yung Bull is, “growing up and wishing he could stay the same.” Everyone has a moment when the weight of the world and their ability to affect change within it hits them like a ton of bricks, and coming to terms with that responsibility inevitably leads to the loss of the innocence of youth. YUNGBULL is the story of a man coming to terms with that moment and embracing it for the better. 

Standout track “Ken Griffey” is a great example of that kind of soul searching and self-discovery on the project as he raps about how, “The moonlight got me lookin at my rosary.” The track opens with a gorgeous retro r&b sample before the drums barge in. There are many syrup smooth moments like that all over YUNGBULL. They have an extremely youthful feel, and just like reality the beat barges in bringing a sense of urgency with it. Tracks like “Post Pain” recall school days fondly with foiled plots of hitting teachers and cutting class, and his Dennis the Menace energy is much appreciated. Even with the jovial nature Jodi spits his heart out on the track with bars like, “My baby said I need to learn how to grow and I don’t know how to do it.” Truthfully, in a time period where everyone claims to have the answers it’s refreshing to hear someone admit to being as clueless as you.

           “Seasonal Depression” is my favorite song on this project by far. The kick in this beat can shake a room but it’s the subject matter that gets me. Jodi’s honesty is raw, opening the track with, “I know sometimes my parents hate me cause I don’t say too much.” Lines like this made me realize how good Jodi is at distilling the Black youth experience in such simple terms. Trauma manifests itself in negative ways that we don’t even realize and in Black homes silence can be deafening, and he communicates this feeling better than anyone else out.

One of the things I love the most about Jodi is the way he’s able to mix elements of boom bap and Madlib inspired soul samples with elements of trap. These are tracks for the function that you can play for your old head dad. The project is capped off by the track “George” where MIKE and Jodi go bar for bar on what may be the best track on the project. “George” feels like cruising down the highway going 80 as the sun rises. The lyrical content here makes it obvious why big names have taken a liking Jodi and all his fellow SLUMs alumni. This project is easily his best so far. It documents the tumultuous NY underground scene and its imprint in a very personal way. These are the young men from KIDS (1995) with an iPhone and a midi keyboard.

I was able to chat with Jodi about this project on Ninth Ave on a rainy day in a Pre-Covid world.

GSC: How did you get your name?

JODI: So the Jazz part my boy AJ from Soho from like middle school. We were close and when I was in 10th grade his dad sent him to boarding school. Before he left I was talking to him like if I became an artist what should my name be. I never wanted to use my actual name. He was really into graffiti at the time and one of his favorite artists’ names was Jazz so I ran with that. Jodi is from one of my favorite movies Baby Boy. When I was growing up in Harlem everyone called me man man that was my hood name. And my girl kept calling me Baby Boy so I just related that back to Jodi. I dropped the Jazz part of my name early this year though. I prefer to be called Jodi. That name came about 2015. I’m a different person now. I don’t feel like Jazz Jodi anymore.

GSC: So with the name YUNGBULL were you trying to capture the turmoil you felt in youth?

JODI: YUNGBULL is just about how I felt being 21 Im 22 now. This is kind of the prime of my life. There are a lot of parts of the project that are upbeat but I want to identify with the craziness as well. The expectations we all try to live up to.

GSC: The album kind of feels like an audio coming of age film. I really picked up on the samples and how your lyrics clash with these beats we probably recognize subconsciously from when we were kids. Was that intentional?

JODI: Extremely. The nostalgia that those samples bring make you feel like a kid again. Especially the Cheetah Girls sample on “Jackal Johnson”. You have to fuck with that song. If you dont fuck with the Cheetah Girls where did you grow up *laughs*

GSC: I definitely noticed that this project was very cohesive. Were you working with multiple producers or just you? 

JODI: I produced everything but Risk and Post Pain.

GSC: Where did the idea for vocal interludes with Aida Osman throughout the project come from?

JODI: Aida is a comedian and I like to piece things together. Like with my last project Time Will Tell I got my boy Jesus to do it and he sent me those recordings a year or two before that came together. With Aida she didn’t even send me that for the project I chopped that up from twitter live. 

GSC: The collaborations through the project are strong. I feel like you start out zeroing in on yourself before widening the scope. What’s your collaborative process like?

JODI: Well with Mars who produced Risk and Post Pain for example we just text back and forth because he lives deep in Queens. He’ll text me beats consistently but it depends on who I’m working with. Like Camden, me and him should never be together. Were like the two bad kids in class. We sit down, chop it up, smoke, and punch in. With Mike same thing I pulled up to his crib and played the beat he wrote to it right there. I really don’t know which I prefer. 

GSC: You tried a lot of things on this album. You plan on branching out more in the future?

JODI: Oh yeah I tried to have no tracks sound identical on this project. With some songs I was even concerned cause it’s not your standard project.

GSC: Some would say you took this risk.

JODI: Exactly I see what you did there. [Editors Note: Listen to “Risk” and you will too] I was trying to see how crazy I could go with it.

GSC: The intimacy on this project is effortless. I see it most on tracks like “Seasonal Depression”. How do relationships affect your music?

JODI: My relationships 100% fuel my music. I’ve gotten more accustomed to linking my music with the time I’m in and people I’m around. Different muses inspire different things in me. Sharon really told me and I aint shit. Especially with the name its cold. Relationships in the fall and spring are very different. 

GSC: You also discussed your familial relations on that track.

JODI: Yeah I don’t really see them as much and I’m growing up so I need to be closer. My friends have also become my family. 

Thanks to @sergi0coyote for all the pictures

GSC: What’s your favorite track on the project

JODI: “Luka Doncic” probably. My boy Chico goes to Bard upstate. He’s in and out of music being in school and shit. He’s a white boy and one of my oldest NY friends. Pulls up with a big jar of weed and we just cook up all night. I felt like I gave a lot on that verse and its my production as well.

GSC: You have a favorite feature?

JODI: Gotta be “Wedding Flow”. Me and Cam don’t miss. We cooked up some crazy shit last night. We are going to drop more and more continuously.

GSC: What do you see in Jodi’s future? Are you concerned about samples?

JODI: Bro if niggas sue me it happens (Laughs). I’m not pressed. I just want people to listen. I want people to see the potential.

GSC: Any videos your tryna make for this?

JODI: Oh yeah we are working on videos. “Ken Griffey” video is out. Working on one for “
“Jackal Johnson”. 

GSC: Who do you listen to?

JODI: Gunna, Roddy, Keem, [Dom] Toliver. Isaiah Rashad is my favorite rapper ever. Growing up I listened to a lot of Scarface, UGK, Outkast, Devin the Dude, Ice Cube. Recently Alex Wiley. Drake of course. I’ve been trying to listen to stuff less now though I focus on myself.

GSC: Who do you write for? 

JODI: It’s not for me and it’s not for you. It’s an exchange of culture for everyone’s benefit.

Give Jodi a follow on insta and listen to the tape on Spotify!

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