Artist Yak the Mack Is gobsMACKed

Photography by Demetrius McCullough.

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Yak the Mack is as confident as his name would suggest. When he pulls up to the Grand Time studios on a Saturday morning, he doesn’t just show up; he makes an arrival. Exiting a G-Class wearing black jeans, a t-shirt emblazoned with angels and devils, and silver Saint Laurent sneakers, he’s accompanied by a small entourage – as per usual. He daps me up, does a lap of the photo studio, and starts doing push-ups on the floor while Demetrius McCullough, the photographer, sets up lights.

“I’ve seen things happen in my mind and then it comes to life,” he says. “I inspire me. Can somebody say that?”

The model and musician has been making a name for himself in his hometown of Dallas and beyond over the past few years, from modeling Yeezy to releasing a steady stream of albums and singles. Like him, his sound is energetic and a bit eclectic. 

The release of gobsMACKed, his new EP and the first to be released under his collective, FPTR (From Poverty To Riches), is a departure.

“I think it's a little bit calmer in some parts,” he says. “What this EP does is, it shows a range.”

Yak stopped by JBW to talk new music and take JBW’s new collection, Cristal Spectra, for a spin. 

Can you tell us a bit about all the roles you play between music and modeling?

I do modeling, music, creative directing, photography on the side. I work with VHS and film cameras to create a lot of the content that I put out. When I’m not doing music or modeling, I’m creative directing my own stuff. 

I co-produce most of my music, and the main producer I work with, Trey Kams, is pretty dope. He’s cooking up all the beats from scratch, doesn’t really use samples, so all the instruments and stuff are coming from him. We did try sampling some songs, but we used songs that we made and didn’t necessarily want to put out. We sampled those to make other songs – it’s like a song inside of a song. 

When did you get into music?

I’ve been taking it seriously for four or five years, I’ve been doing it for maybe seven years in total. The first two years, I was kind of playing around with it. It was just a cool thing I liked to do to bring me and my friends together. Then, my cousin [Sensei Blue’s] song went viral. It was on the Jimmy Kimmel show. That whole phase changed everything for me, because I saw music could actually take you places. It took me about two years to understand and really start taking it more seriously. 

How would you describe your musical style?

I feel like my music definitely has great energy. It’s an upper. It’s real moody. I feel like it’s immaculate. Yeah, it’s just electrifying. 

With this EP, I’m definitely going to transition into something smooth but still energetic. I’m just an energetic person. It’s that keep-you-going type music.

You’ve said that the EP going to show everybody a different side of your music.

I think it’s little bit calmer in some parts. What this EP does is, it shows a range. It shows that I’m not really in a box. There’s that saying, if you have good ideas you’re thinking outside of the box – how I look at it, it was never a box for me. I always wanted to try new things and experiment. 

That’s probably what’s made things slower for me as far as blowing up. I don’t mind being in my corner creating what I like and what I want to experiment with. 

What inspires you?

I feel like my faith really inspires me. I believe in a lot of stuff and I see it happen. Throughout my whole coming up, I’ve seen things happen in my mind and then they come to life. 

I inspire me. Can somebody say that? I don’t want to sound conceited, but I inspire myself. It’s like I’m coming into my own power. I’m evolving like Pokemon or some shit. 

Then I start looking at greats like Kanye and Michael Jackson. The type of people who inspired themselves too. They really studied themselves to become better. Also Rick James, Andre 3000, Pharrell – people who created their own lane and made people step into their world.  

Tell us about your style. How does fashion shape your creativity?

I like to test the waters and try different things on. Sometimes I look on Pinterest, it’s a good place to get creative juices flowing. I’m really inspired by people’s fashion, and going to different places and traveling. I become a sponge and I like to see how I can mix it up. 

What’s your favorite piece of the Spectra collection and why?

I like all of them, and I like how it’s just right. It’s not too much, it’s not too little. It’s one of those things where it’ll definitely catch people’s eyes. It’s subtle and that’s what I like about it.

gobsMACKed is now streaming via SoundCloud.

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