Written by @archbishopeddy

It was 2016 that I went to my second live concert out in Mesa, AZ. This night was devoted to going to see Florida’s heavy hitter Denzel Curry, who was then on a leg of the tour for the newly released “Imperial”. At this point in time that show is very much a blur, just a filed away experience under the mental footnote “The one out of several Denzel shows I’ve been to–got my hat signed and asked him about Dragon Ball Z like a fucking goober”. I distinctly remember a particular player that headed this show alongside Denzel, a C9 member I wasn’t all too familiar with (At this point in time I knew zero to none about the monster that was Florida’s underground). This rather lanky dude, boasting long powerful dreads and a walking stick mobbing through the crowd gently asking around “Anyone got weed?” to swooning fans that recognized him. It was a few beats later this character was at the forefront of the stage orchestrating a wall of death, freestyling acapella, and accompanying Denzel in a zealous high energy performance of Du Rags” (Complete with really cool simple choreography, if you wanna call it that). Now, I am no historian, and all I have to supplement me in this narrative is a strong fondness for this artist that I just so happened to follow over the years. So my memory isn’t the greatest, and I don’t claim any of this to be fact or encyclopedic in any way rather than a subjective retelling of my experiences with the sound.

Anyway, Yoshi Thompkins landed on my radar sometime prior to the release of “Imperial” with his appearance of the 2014 track 2055 BET AWARDS C9 Cypher featuring Denzel Curry , JK The Reaper, and Mike Dece (I kinda miss Mike Dece man). The track was so lethal and heavily spit, dense with all the puns, allusions, and clever deliveries on top of a Freebase beat that aptly samples the Yoshi character.

The time progression blurs a bit in regards to the tracks that Yoshi Thompkins had released before seeing him live. I believe I had also listened to his “No Rest” EP (That is unfortunately no longer up on SoundCloud, at least, not in the US) entirely produced by Ronny J. There was the memorable “BLKFLA” that featured the buttery smooth vocals of Twelve’len, and the rhythmic catchy hook that utilized the “this is black Floridaaaa” by Yoshi.

Reverting back to the concert, there was an indelible performance by Yoshi that I only captured a snippet of on my phone which I have no doubt in my mind was a Galaxy S2 because I had that shit until I was a junior in highschool. I digress, this snippet was a fading digital collectible that I put to pass as I did with the various other pieces of footage I recorded for posterity that night. As time passed though, I found myself replaying this 50 second clip, over and over, which luckily sustained it’s longevity through 3 different phones now. It was now 2017. I’ve exhausted Google and Instagram comment threads where my perusing leads me to the the title of the song and some other snippets of it being performed live. These clips are all similar, not the best footage, but I can make out the gripping lyrics that I devoted to memory easy;

“They tried to tarnish my image, so many pray for my ending, this aint even the beginning, why the fuck would they hate to begin with, this year I’m out seeking

vengeance making sure everyone get the business, this aint even the beginning I’m sending shots to the ceiling– I want revenge like the Punisher, give me respect or I punish yuh”

The latter lines of the track are spit so ferociously and then immediately cut off in the video I had recorded. It was like sonic blue balls, Yoshi had a prowess and excellent balance from the chorus to the first verse of the track that I ached to hear in it’s completion, which I unfortunately never did, at least not in a timely manner. These breadcrumbs that are “The Punisher” would circulate in and out of my mind consistently, and so I let it go for the time being.

Amidst this longing for an otherwise unreleased track, there was a myriad of other incredible loosies and features I was able to indulge in, namely seminal tracks like the early mentioned “Du Rags” and most tantamount to Florida’s thriving underground, “Hit the Dirt” featuring the then enigmatic and explosive XXXTentacion. Then there was preemptive singles that would later be featured on a full length project to come like “Gucci Mane”, “Rage Room” “Marvelous” and “Black Jesus” (also seen performed live). ”Marvelous” became an instant favorite of mine, both for its pseudo motown sample at the beginning of the track (also produced by notable Ronny J), and the sheer fervor in which Yoshi is known to rap in on a ton of tracks. Yoshi goes full throttle on this track, replete with tongue twisters, dense rhymes bar after bar, speedy quick delivery, as well as dropping numerous anime, comic book, sports, and television references. It’s a frenetic piece of work that transports you into colorful, action packed Saturday morning cartoons. Following that was “Rage Room” another testament to A. Yoshi’s prominence in the underground scene in which he name drops the likes of Raider Klan and Beast Coast affiliated individuals and B. unabashed lyrical and musical talent where we see Yoshi kick bars for 2 minutes straight.

Fortunately, Yoshi’s discography is incredibly accessible from his profile alone, as there aren’t too many projects of his up, some reposts, but mostly an uncluttered and easy stream of his evolution that culminates into a full album dropped as of recent. That being said, Yoshi’s most interesting development is his involvement with a couple of rather unknown Floridians that I came in contact with around late 2016 early 2017 (I was in English class when I heard “Apple Blue’s”) that aren’t featured on his SoundCloud.

It was RealLiveAnimals FKA PU$$EIDXN and producer / rapper Berler in which I was drawn to the alternative R&B/ Soul sound as well as the autotuned hits these two put out. On several of these RLA tracks Yoshi is a collaborator, and it shows a compelling level of versatility that’s a distinct departure from the hard quick timed flow atop 808 booming Ronny J beats to slow, seductive, rhythmic tracks. In all honesty several of these nostalgic tracks are completely lost, as with PU$$EIDXN’s dropping of the original name to adopt RealLiveAnimals, many of these tracks also went and the only thing I can vaguely remember is melodies and cover arts while exact titles and lyrics escape me at this point.

Regardless, the tracks that are accessible still maintain the aforementioned versatility in Yoshi’s rapping prowess and ability to add dulcet yet gripping substance to rather left field instrumentation aiding soulful vocals.

Tracks like “Lick Me”, “ “Yes My Love”, “Right Now” and “Southern Exposure” all vary in terms of tempo and level of “traditional” rap production, with some featuring striking guitar power chords, dainty and wavy strings, organ and piano chords, and lively funk vibes. A common thread in all these features acts upon something Yoshi is particularly eloquent in expressing, and that is love, romance, and tenderness.

It’s lyrically an equal departure from the handful of tracks that I’ve covered so far, which are rampant in fierce, tough braggadocio and aggression. And thus is a collaborative relationship worth looking into, as the soulful singing of RLA pairs wondrously with the sultry bars of Yoshi. It’s also worth looking into the adjoining collabs with Yoshi and Berler, where Berler supplies cogent productions on tracks like “Fujiko” and “Stick in the party”, more in line with Yoshi’s more common rapping ability.

Finally, everything comes full circle and this discography comes to an important head in April 2018. I went from a high school classroom having to sign a paper to piss to finally driving around college where I can piss freely when an announcement of a new album dropped on Yoshi’s social media. Many of the catchy, double timed and frankly just hard hitting tracks released earlier are featured on this 9 track album Black Jesus, a project where I ultimately freaked out and overwhelmed my ex in the passenger seat with my incessant need to play “The Punisher” in its entirety… over and over. A long with the re releasing of a handful of singles, it is worth noting the opening track “Pump” is a track produced by Berler. It’s a strong opening track, and is a stepping stone into the rather consistent energy present on the album. It goes for the gut, it’s in your face, not lacking in aggression or energy. Save from tracks like “Gwta” and “Powerrr”, which are a rung slower, from start to finish the whole project is an exciting and easily consumable one. Past “Pump”, “Gucci Mane”, “The Punisher”, and “Du Rags” are veritable hits derivative of this album, despite the fact 4 of the 9 tracks are ones that can be heard already, they still stand true.

Seperate from the discernible star power that Yoshi is affiliated with, given all of C9’s members, Ronny J productions, and an XXXTentacion feature, it is worth noting that if I wouldn’t be sacrificing clarity, none of these names would come up from me in this piece. It is evident that there is some leering at the body of work Yoshi Thompkins produces that may very well just be a product of the names he works with (you know how overhype is), but it’s paramount to note that despite all that all of his tracks are distinguished and unique, as well as long lasting, lending themselves to that of Yoshi and Yoshi only. Whether it’s the elements of rapping in it’s “true” form, to harmonizing, to clever in depth lyricism and wordplay, or production, he’s a stand out character, versatile, and nary should be overlooked nor should he be cast in a shadow of his peers. The evidence is all there that Yoshi is a pivotal figure to Florida’s scene, and I implore you more than ever to indulge in his work. As always, run it up.