Leaving Southern California for Spokane, Corey Yanks, 23, saw an opportunity not only to reimagine his life in a new place, but also to double down on his passion for making contemporary hip-hop music.
The journey since then has been a long one, but the wait is finally over. Yanks’ debut album, “New Age, Next Chapter,” is being released on Friday. “It’s insane to me,” Yanks said. “I never thought this album would be done. It’s not just a figment of my imagination that wants to come true one day. It’s going to happen now.”
The record shows Yanks’ years of work and development, as he moves quickly between emotive, delicate tracks and others better suited to a party. It’s a dichotomy present, too, in his lyrics, which is where most of Yanks’ focus is.
When he was younger, Yanks “did a lot of church choir. At that time, (music) was just fun and games.” But as he got older, his relationship to art underwent a major shift. “Once I hit junior year, I had a lot of mental problems and a lot of situations that brought me down and brought me closer to music.”
Yanks has a firsthand understanding of music’s saving power. This sense guided his decision-making with “New Age, Next Chapter” and raised the stakes of his work. “If you want to save your fan, if you want to make sure that they’re not alone … that’s my music,” he said.
“I’m trying to get people involved and trying to get people to realize this world is small, we are all together. We’re not alone. And we don’t need to hide our emotions or anything like that.” Yanks lives up to his words.
On “New Energy” and “Decisions” – the album’s third and fourth tracks – he is at his most open. After the tromping and dark beat of “New Energy,” “Decisions” opens with an exhale and a delicate, simple background. “Perfect picture ain’t so perfect / Livin’ life thru all the mud ain’t it / Death on death / I’m surprised it ain’t me next,” he raps.
But in the line “livin’ life thru the mud,” the active verb is “livin’ ” because in spite of that mud, life keeps on going. At least until it doesn’t. As the next line states, death happens, too. One of the people Yanks had in mind when working on the album was his grandfather, whose passing weighed greatly on his work.
“The last conversation I had with him in the hospital, before he passed, was basically him telling me to never give up on what I want to do. Only I can say what happens,” Yanks said. Out of that grew this end result.
Having demonstrated his willingness to go to the dark, Yanks doesn’t dwell too long. “Decisions” closes with a classic easier-said-than-done, but you know he’s right in any case: “We gotta let go of our insecurities and just smile and live life.”
“The second half of that song is me just letting it all out and not really hiding it anymore,” Yanks said. “Just gonna let it all out and show who I am.” Yanks summarized the album’s arc best: “It’s just a roller coaster of an album. It goes with highs and lows. It really is one of those albums where if you’re not paying attention, you will miss something.”
From “Decisions,” it’s not long before “Suburbs” plays, the album’s clear-cut summer track. It’s a relaxed, mellow beat, and Yanks takes his time working it over. There’s no rush as he makes an anthem of the suburbs.
The rest of the album branches out even further, winding its way through moods and subgenres without a moment of doubt. As Yanks put it, “It’s a game-changer. It really brings a new field of music to people who are willing to listen.”
As a debut, “New Age, Next Chapter” has set up Yanks for success. His use of samples and interstitials makes the album work as a coherent whole, but many of the tracks go well as standalone singles.
And if there’s anything that comes across, it’s the positive energy Yanks puts behind his lyrics. “This is my passion,” he said. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Stream “New Age, Next Chapter” on your favorite streaming service, and drop a follow on Instagram @realcoreyyanks.
Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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