As best as I can tell, Yury is a Pittsburgh hip-hop artist who enjoys a good A$AP Rocky song now and again, has opened for the slightly more famous rapperChris Webby at least once, and has an unnatural (possibly unhealthy) obsession with weed and peanut butter (not in that order). That’s as much as I can tell you from looking at his Facebook and hisTumblr in lieu of an official bio, which it doesn’t appear he’s ever gotten around to writing. Maybe he should given his album is in the top 150 of free downloads onAmazon.com, and when you segregate by rap he ranks even higher – #5 overall. That puts him in the same company as Public Enemy, Scarface and Jedi Mind Tricks. In fact I’d say an in-depth bio should be priority #1.
To be fair I wouldn’t even have been looking for more information about Yuri if I hadn’t stumbled across “Curriculum Vitae” while researching what IS top ranked on Amazon.com right now. It’s not a bad idea to know what’s charting, although it occurred to me recently that I paid far more attention to the paid albums than their free releases. Perhaps that’s because I’m so used to getting free albums fromBandcamp.com and DatPiff.com it doesn’t occur to me to look at other places. In fact “Curriculum Vitae” is also available from the latter, so if you’re interested it really doesn’t matter how or where you get it from. At least I learned from the latter that Yury’s album is largely self-produced, though he does get a few assists: Black Diamond does three tracks, Big Jerm and Sayez both work on two, and Jaycard contributes to just one. One of the songs that immediately strikes my fancy on this free album is the Big Jerm and Yury produced “Change the World”:
“Yeah, uhh, uhh, once I caught a case
Sent me for my trial, should have seen the look on my mom’s face
Oh my God! Hold the applause, I am quite appalled
Street cred is what gets people more involved
Yeah; probation wasn’t fun
Treated me like I ran up on someone with a gun
Like damn son – they try to hold my ass for ransom
Of course I’ma diss ’em, man fuck the system
And with the lawyer fees I think they got their wish
Couple grand just to process, damn ain’t that a bitch?
Thanks for the service, they probably think I’m worthless
Act calm on the surface, and tell ’em that I learned this lesson
Gotta watch out not to get caught up in more transgressions
So it’s got me stressin, so yes I do believe I smoke
Cause I don’t believe in hope but I sure do believe in dope”
The background music is a relaxed mixture of bass and strummed guitar, and the vocals on the chorus echo eerily like the inner sanctum of some hallowed hall. It’s a very easy song to find yourself head bopping to, and though Yury seems pessimistic about his ability to effect change in the legal system or society as a whole, he also doesn’t sound defeated by the man. If I were to hazard a guess though it was probably the same dope he takes for his stress that got him in the mess in the first place, though he won’t tell us.
Like an increasing number of his freely downloadable contemporaries, Yury is actually releasing an album that he could actually sell, hoping perhaps that the publicity he’ll gain from it would be beneficial in the long term. “Curriculum Vitae” is a tightly focused package of 13 tracks, clocking just over 36 minutes, which in the bad old days would probably be longer than it took to download over dial-up. Then again there just weren’t as many up-and-coming rappers giving away albums of this caliber in the halcyon days of AOL. Yury’s not exactly profound – like his song says he’s on some “Live Fast, Die Young” shit but he’s going to appeal to the same audience that likes New Boyz and Wiz Khalifa. Even when you think a song like “Hookshot” might not be about partying from the title, it’s even more so than the last one:
“I smoke a lot of weed
No stems, no seeds
Heartrate hittin 203
And I still gotta hit that afterparty
Bacardi; lime and a little coke
Girls steppin up ’til they more than a lil’ broke
5 AM, did another shot
New joint smoke, for them that’s a pill pop
Burn some’n, feelin pretty toasted
Rapper flyin so high I’m coastin
Doin 95 on the freeway
Women like sweepstakes, run it like a relay”
As a self-produced track “Hookshot” is also an example of Yury having a good ear as a producer – it manages to be industrial, noisy and electronic without losing its hip-hop bass and bounce or him losing the flow or being drowned out by the music. Whether he’s turning up the volume up on songs like “Substep” or cooling out on songs like “Deep End,” it’s not hard to see how Yury cracked the free top ten. Occasionally free albums aren’t worth the time or bandwidth they took, but “Curriculum Vitae” isn’t one of those. We’ll undoubtedly be hearing a lot more of this peanut butter and weed obsessed rapper in the months to come.