Senioritis and procrastination in college is like a disease, but one Houston rap collective, known as YStartLater, believes that waiting around isn’t the right “way of life.”
“There are a lot of dudes out there that are worth listening to, but Houston needs to step it up,” said YSL member and mechanical engineering freshman Ryan Heathcock. “That’s what we’re doing now. I think it’s our time to clean it up.”
As a whole, YStartLater is a movement that features Heathcock as N-8, theatre and creative writing sophomore Tyler Winchell as T-Mo, Matthew Tingle as Matt T, public relations sophomore at Houston Community College Eric Carrifino as Fino, Andrew Knowles as D-Pad, Jerrelle Jackson as YSL Rell, Brandon Lambretch as himself and film and digital media sophomore at Baylor Frankie Broussard as Code Hero. Instead of a rap group, the team would rather be known as a movement for positive music, and their motto and meaning behind the name is forward-thinking.
“We don’t want to be dumbed down,” Tingle said. “It’s a name that reflects something positive because there’s a lot of craziness going on in hip-hop right now, and we want to bring something productive to the culture. If we don’t do that now, we never will.”
YSL’s music ranges from lewd, off-the-wall bangers to chill, deep and introspective tracks. Many of these traits are noticeable in their first two releases: “Senior Project,” a collaborative effort from N-8 and Code Hero, and the 25-track spectacle “Procrastinators Beware.”
“We each have a very distinct sound, but it mixes very well when it’s all put together, especially for a hype showcase. T-Mo is good with his trap music and Matt with his rock-rap vibe,” Heathcock said. “We’re really weird as a group. We’re definitely not normal and we certainly don’t appear as your regular, cliché rappers.”
No matter the crowd count, they’re rowdy, riled up and are viciously witty with their rhymes on stage. Like the Californian group Odd Future, the men of YSL are aware they don’t fit the usual hip-hop mold.
“I just like the fact that Odd Future care about what other people think of them. I think that we have that element and it reflects us perfectly,” Winchell said.
Before advocating “death to procrastination,” the birth of YSL took place at Buffalo Wild Wings.
“Matt and I had met up there and we were watching PPV’s and talking about battle rappers,” Heathcock said. “I had just started writing and told him that if I ever got the chance to record, I would. Matt told me he had a studio, and from then on we started writing music together. It became a huge snowball effect after that.”
The collective grew to be not only a rap group. Some of the members are hands-on with the beat production of their tracks, handling their music videos on YouTube, promos, professional CD pressing and orchestrating venues. Matt-T considers himself a dedicated worker in that regards to promoting YSL’s sound.
“To this day, I often tell people that I rap, but they don’t believe it,” Tingle said. “‘You’re not a rapper. You don’t look like a rapper.’ I showed one guy that I work with all of our material, including mine, and he told me that we were artists that he could actually listen to. I was proud of that.”
The group is on their way to making a third mixtape project titled, “The Way of Life,” hosted by DJ Dav!s, a spiritual member of YSL who speaks verses through all members of the group. Alongside some outside appearances from several other Houston hip-hop artists, Matt-T notes that this particular project will amp up the level of cohesiveness throughout.
“It’s not going to be like the previous where someone has their own tracks. Everybody is going to be on there, and we even have rappers outside of YSL guest-appearing on this one, too,” Tingle said. “Once you hear it and you look at the big picture, like a full-fledged YSL movie.”