By Ron Fisher
Pittsburgh based hip-hop group, the Yung Old Headz, is quietly putting on for the Steel City. The group’s lead member, TNT, has been in the game since the early 1980s and hasn’t looked back since.
A few years after stepping foot onto the rap scene, TNT would link with fellow Pittsburgh emcee Mello. The two rappers would drop bars back-to-back until the group’s third member, TNT’s son DTAZ, joined the group several years ago.
Now a trio, the group is working to bring back the pure essence of hip-hop. After dropping numerous albums and appearing on more than 30 mixtapes, the Yung Old Headz are proud to announce the release of their new project The Godfathers of Hip Hop, which dropped on March 21st.
The new album is filled with their unique sound, and lyrics that everyone can relate to. TNT, whose musical influences include the Sugar Hill Gang, Rakim, and Busta Rhymes, said he is constantly being told that the Yung Old Headz is what hip-hop has been missing. He said that is partly due to the group’s experience and authenticity.
“You can’t compare our sound to nobody,” TNT said. “All music has it similarities, but it also has its own touch to it. As far as rap goes, its all rhyming words, sentences and phrases, but how you put it together is one thing, and how you present it is another.” TNT describes the group’s sound as “one of a kind,” but at the same time, it’s something that all walks in life can vibe to, which is evident in their record sales.
According to the group’s lead emcee, Yung Old Headz is one of the few independent groups to achieve Gold Record status for selling more than 500,000 copies of their album The Essence of Hip Hop, which featured their hit single, “Anybody.” This is the group’s greatest achievement, TNT said.
“When you get people who actually like your music, and appreciate what you are doing with your music, it’s a great feeling. I do not take anyone who is a fan, whether young or old, for granted,” he said. “We love all of our fans.”
While TNT did recall times of receiving support from people he wasn’t expecting too, he did mention that the support from the Pittsburgh area is at times disappointing. He said that Pittsburgh is filled with great talent, but that the city needs to do a better job of coming together to help build each other up. He noted that most of the group’s fan base comes from out of the Pittsburgh area. Their music is currently being played in countries across the globe, such as Japan, Italy, France, Australia and the United Kingdom. However, the worldwide success, fame and the money is not what drives the Yung Old Headz. “I’m in it for the love of hip-hop,” TNT said. “Everybody wants to get there, but don’t know how to get there.” “We have spent thousands of dollars trying to make a name for ourselves. Young people have got to understand that none of this is for free and that the hood will never make you rich.”
“Creativity is key. You have to stand out and create your own lane,” TNT said.
“Every artist that has created their own lane is still doing it to this day in their fifties and sixties. It’s about longevity. I was there when rap started and people thought that it would never last.”
More than 40 years later, hip-hop is still going strong, so be sure to support your local artists and check out The Godfathers of Hip Hop by the Yung Old Headz, available now at www.theyoh.com.
This article was first published in Soul Pitt Quarterly Print Magazine (Spring 2017). Copyright Soul Pitt Media. All Rights Reserved.