When you think of cities made famous by their prominence in rap, you typically think LA and New York; East Coast/West Coast. If you want to break down the New York scene further you’d probably say Brooklyn or Harlem.Yet while Westchester fans are quick to point out names like DMX, Styles P, and Jadakiss, even Mary J. Blige as big names to come out of the city, Yonkers doesn’t quite get the same name recognition as, say, Hollis, Queens. A few up-and-coming local rappers, however, are looking to change that with a new track that’s been racking up the views on YouTube called “So Yonkers.”
“Once I heard the song from Casanova and Fabolous I automatically had the idea to do ‘So Yonkers,’” says Cash B, “but my idea was ‘I’m going to do a remix — and obviously this is going to help the city and get the city a lot of exposure — but after we do it then the other cities around us are going to start doing it and it’ll spread. We’re gonna do it and Casanova’s going to notice it and repost it, and then the whole world will start it.”The idea was definitely right on the money, as just a few weeks later Casanova himself announced the #SoBrooklyn Challenge. Already in motion, Cash B kicked his plans into high gear and started wrangling more local talent. Surprisingly, it all came together quicker than anyone expected.“I’ve known Cash a long time now,” says featured artist Kitreace Harris, a.k.a. Lady Slim. “We’d always say, ‘Oh, we should do something together; we should work together,’ but it didn’t line up. This time it lined up and I wrote my verse and that was it.”Jaewon Phillips came on board in much the same way. “Me and Cash B was talking about doing a song for a while, actually, and he had hit me up one day like, ‘Yo, there’s this challenge going on and I think we should do it.’”“We all came together trying to bring the city together to show unity amongst us, with all the stuff that’s going on around here, and that’s basically how the song came about,” says Keem. “Set up a studio session, we all went, and we knocked it out.”
Though unavailable to film the music video, the studio version of “So Yonkers” additionally features a verse by Yonkers artist Zeeky.“I wanted to get artists that weren’t noticed that much for being artists, because I knew that this would bring their exposure way up,” says Cash. “These artists are genuine. I know them personally and I have genuine relationships with them, and I wanted to help.”The desire to showcase Yonkers’ diversity — both in terms of talent and its varied neighborhoods — was a leading impulse for everyone involved in the project. “There’s so much talent here. Just building each other up instead of tearing each other down, that’s what’s gonna get us up there,” Lady Slim says.“My thing was showcasing not just Yonkers but exactly where I’m from in Yonkers, you know?” adds Keem. “We’re all from different sides of town out here in Yonkers: You’ve got Jaewon from Warburton, Cash B from the South Side, Lady Slim … all different parts, and if we can come together so can y’all. All that matters is something good can come out of it.”“Keem is from technically the North Side, being from Schlobohm. Everybody else is really from the South Side of Yonkers or the Central part of Yonkers,” Jaewon says. Our part doesn’t get much recognition. We don’t got too many artists on the North Side of Yonkers.”Jaewon has a unique perspective, having grown up on both Yonkers’ South Side and North Side. He is also a second-generation Yonkers native artist — his father, Jadakiss, is a huge star in his own right and is quite popular in the city for bringing Juices For Life, his healthy juice bar collab with Styles P, to Yonkers in 2014.Read More: This Juice Bar From Styles P and Jadakiss Brings Healthy Choices to Yonkers“I feel like it comes naturally, I think that’s why it’s easy for me to do my verse: It was just truth,” he says. “Speak the truth, don’t exaggerate, don’t shy away, because it would’ve been easy for me to say anything about all of Yonkers.”I knew what this would do,” Cash says. “We would mesh together so perfect. The stories that we have, we’re all unique in our own way, have our own way of doing music.”“The city is filled with talent from all angles, whether it’s sports, music, videography, entertainment, dancing, there’s tons of talent in Yonkers but it’s just not noticed. I want to open that door til everyone’s paying attention to Yonkers, so that everyone who’s talented can start exposing their talent and getting them the views. We definitely have the talent; we just have to get that door open and then it’s on from there.