“King Cobra” is the infectious and braggadocious new single from Trinidadian rap artist and entrepreneur YEARWOOD, taken from his highly anticipated debut EP titled Animal Farm that is set to be released next year.
The single comes on the back of the powerful protest song “Black Panther,” which Yearwood released this summer to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 and to highlight the current systemic racism that is still rife in the United States.
Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, real name Daniel Yearwood performs under the stage name of Yearwood. He describes himself as “a professional investor for over a decade, venture backed startup founder, currently living in the city of LA.”
In sharp contrast to the serious political theme of “Black Panther,” “King Cobra” sees Yearwood offering a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek element to his artistry that fans and critics alike will appreciate.
AllHipHop: Your new single “King Cobra” and the one before are named after animals, how did you choose the animals?
Yearwood: It was a semi-random process, to be honest. I tried to pick animals that I thought would spark interesting songwriting that was somewhat connected to the name, even if I didn’t explicitly reference the name of the animal. For example in my previous single “Black Panther,” where I don’t mention those two words in the lyrics anywhere, but obviously the connotation to the Black Panther Party would give a potential listener a preview of the BLM/racial protest nature of the subject matter. There were a couple attempts that didn’t work out as well. I tried to stick to only 7 tracks on the project, although I wrote about 15 songs and recorded 10. Might release some of the ones that aren’t on the final tracklist at a later date or maybe steal some punchlines from myself for other songs.
AllHipHop: What’s been your favorite part about working on “King Cobra” and your upcoming EP “Animal Farm?”
Yearwood: If you compare King Cobra to the 5 songs that I’ve previously released videos for on YouTube, it’s a lot more lighthearted than the others so I felt a lot less pressure. Again to compare it to “Black Panther,” even though I obviously have a personal opinion on the BLM movement and issues of racial justice, there was a certain editorial element I felt was required with respect to accurately representing US history, the history of race relations, and the Tulsa Massacre. Another prior song, “Nutten Wit We,” was a love song for my wife — which is our wedding song. In the video,
I use footage of my surprise proposal to her. I only had one shot at making sure that song came out right, and that she’d love it. I can make other songs for her in the future, but there will only ever be one wedding song. With “King Cobra” and all the other songs on A*nimal Farm *aside from “Black Panther,” there was a lot more freedom and less pressure in that respect, which also gave me the chance to experiment and try new things.
AllHipHop: “Black Panther” communicates a strong message of systematic racism and strong political messages. What influenced you to change your style with “King Cobra”?
Yearwood: Chronologically, I wrote “King Cobra” before “Black Panther,” and my initial plan was to have “Black Panther” be the last single released from the Animal Farm project instead of the first. I figured I’d have initially started building a reputation for making fun/party songs, then people would have interpreted “Black Panther” as a pivot to a topic that was more serious. Timing-wise, both with respect to recording the music/shooting the videos and my commitments to other things, it became clear to me that I wouldn’t have gotten all the other singles out soon enough — while still keeping “Black Panther” to a May 31st 2021 release date, which was extremely important to me as it was the 100 year anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre.
“King Cobra” is more representative of my style and what the other songs on this project sound like. “Black Panther” was a bit of a departure, again influenced by what has been happening in the US in recent years with respect to the BLM movement and the Tulsa Massacre anniversary.
AllHipHop: Did you have any music inspiration for your new track?
Yearwood: For this track in particular, I’d say it was a spark I got once I heard the beat. Alfaro Beats, who also produced another song on this project entitled Scarlet Ibis, totally killed this in my opinion,. Once I first heard it, I started writing “King Cobra” immediately, before I even bought it from him.
AllHipHop: From going from Wharton School to Harvard University to now making music, what caused your drastic change in career path?
Yearwood: Making music was definitely not in my original plan! Back in college, my roommate and I used to play this game where we’d freestyle in character as our favorite rappers, most often DMX. Years later, he started recording music professionally. We ended up starting this friendly competition where we’d record voice note freestyles over random instrumentals and send them to each other. This process eventually sparked my curiosity to begin recording music in a professional studio which I first did in September 2016.
While definitely a departure from my career as an investor, I’ve always had a strong interest in trying new things and expanding my horizons. The 3 degrees I have are all in different, unrelated areas but they’re pretty complementary. Similarly, I see my music career as more of an extension into a new complementary area, rather than a drastic career change. Aside from recording music, I still do continue to invest professionally so all my prior years of schooling and career experience are still being put to good use.
AllHipHop: What would you recommend to someone who might be thinking about changing their life course as you did?
Yearwood: It’s about finding the right balance between “following your passion” and not starving to death. I’m a big advocate for experimentation, testing the waters and trying new things. Life is too short to spend it wondering what could have been if you hadn’t tried something you’d always wanted to. The reality is, especially for people of color or immigrants, we often have responsibilities like younger siblings/parents/family members to take care of that limit the amount of money we could spend or forgo by exploring new things before they become income generating. Acquiring knowledge is often the first step, and today you can do that on just about any topic online either for free or very low cost, so that’s always a good place to start.
AllHipHop: How do you incorporate your Caribbean influence in your music?
Yearwood: It varies from song to song. In my rap, sometimes you hear it in the accent. Other times it might be the use of West Indian slang. Other times, it might be in the references I use in my punch lines. “King Cobra” might have elements of all 3. I have other songs that I haven’t put out yet that sonically have a heavier Caribbean influence. On those, I definitely fall into the respective genres I lean into there. Growing up listening to as much dancehall and soca as I did, it’s hard not to dabble in the space, even if they aren’t the main types of music I make.
AllHipHop: What does “King Cobra” represent?
Yearwood: The song is a foray into what I consider to be more familiar territory thematically, and perhaps more accessible material for the average listener, relative to all of my prior releases, so I’m excited to see what people think about it and the feedback from the general public. In terms of a more specific definition of “King Cobra” within the context of the song, the last line of the second verse sums that up.
AllHipHop: What artists inspire you the most and how have you incorporated some of their styles into your own music?
IYearwood: grew up on DMX, JAY Z and a lot of rappers from the late 90’s/early 2000’s where lyricism, wordplay and flow were very important. Outside of rap, Vybz Kartel is also a huge influence. Throughout college, I’d listen through every riddim that he hopped on. I also listen to a lot of newer artists that create music that’s more based on a mood or vibe that might be a bit more melodic and spontaneous in nature. Depending on the nature of the song I’m making, I think about how important the different elements are to the final product, but there’s probably a minimum level of lyricism that I feel any song I make needs to have.
AllHipHop: What kind of experience do you want your listeners to take away from your upcoming EP?
Yearwood: Overall, the project conveys a lot about who I am, the things that are important to me, things I’ve experienced good and bad. Listening to the project start to finish, I hope listeners would not only have an enjoyable sonic experience, but hopefully learn a bit more about my story to check out the other things I have coming down the line. I’ve already started working on the next two bodies of work that will come after this one. I’m still early enough in my career that I still have a lot to learn, other dope artists and producers to meet and collaborate with, that my best music is still yet to come.