By Rashad Grove
(AllHipHop Features) Over the last decade, Los Angeles has been churning out some incredible MC’s and Yannick “Thurz” Koffi is prepared to add to his name to list. Thurz has gained a reputation as phenomenal artist boasting collaborations with Black Thought, Dr. Dre, and Anderson .Paak. Recently releasing some hot tracks including “777-9311” produced by and featuring Iman Omari & Wali Ali Jr. and “Long Live” produced by Jake One, is now ready to drop his highly anticipated project. I caught up with Thurz and we talked about the influence of being of Belizean descent, growing up in Inglewood, and collaborating with Hip-Hop legends.
AllHipHop: I’ve read that your family is from Belize and you recently visited. How was that experience?
Thurz: Yeah it was an awesome trip man. I haven't been there since I was in Elementary School of Middle school so going back was cool. It was all the different sites out there was family, my brothers. And it was just a don't trip. My parents built a home there. It was necessary and refreshing. I’m looking forward to going back again.
AllHipHop: Did your parents bring the culture of Belize when you were a kid in the house? Any kind of musical influences?
Thurz: Absolutely man. My mom and stepdad always kept the culture in the house when I was growing up. There was always New Year’s Celebration and other Belize holidays we celebrated, My stepdad and his brothers were DJ’s, so I got to be around the equipment all the time.
AllHipHop: When did you want to become an MC?
Thurz: I remember first hearing Kris Kross in the first grade. My mom got me their first single and their CD and I was like, “Okay, this is what I want to do.” I stuck with it since then. I started messing with around with a keyboard. Early on I had an interest in music. I was able to figure out how to record myself with two different radios and a mic. I would get instrumentals from Sam Goody and record myself.
AllHipHop: How did you link up with the legendary Black Thought on “Riot”?
Thurz: I first met Tariq at a Root’s jam session in New York at the Highline Ballroom. I was on tour with Warren G with kids in the hall and we had like a whole week in New York was able to get around and you know meet a lot of people out there you know, we got asked to come You know, rap at the Jam Session. Me and my partner in the group you and I we did our thing on stage and positive feedback. Get off stage and met Tariq. He said, “I thought yall were dope.” I was like, “Yoooooooo that’s Black Thought!” I’m a big fan of the Roots since Illadeph Half Life and When Things Fell Apart.
AllHipHop: You're from Inglewood. How does your hometown inform your music?
Thurz: I feel like there's a lot of things culture in the city. You know? You see it more in like hindsight, I was growing and growing up in you know, in an environment you don't realize this is happening. The blue-collar approach you know? The lifestyle around us and how we all value different things like basketball, dope shoes, different cars, and different Sonics in the music. Growing up there and sharing a lot of interest with my peers. Being a first-generation from Belize and I want to tell those stories in my songs. Inglewood has had a big influence on me. 've been aware it's going to be proud of every neighborhood has a lot of similarities to different regions and different to different elements variables that you know people that can speak on a regular
AllHipHop: As you progressed and grew up who were the West Coast cats that were that you were listening to?
Thurz: Some of my favorites were NWZ, Dr. Dre, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube but who I think really shaped me was when my brother introduced to the Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest. They really had an impact on me. One of my favorites is Red Man especially the Muddy Waters album.
AllHipHop: How did you come up with the idea for “L.A. Riot” for the project?
Thurz: By that time, I had a daughter and we were all in different places and had different interests. My boy Thomas Whitmore who shot all our videos, began talking about the L.A. Uprising. I began to research it and it inspired me. It tells of great story of racism, race relations, communication issues, and capitalism. I used all of that energy to introduce myself as a solo artist.
AllHipHop: It reminded me of me being from the East coast and listening to The Chronic and Dre and Snoop injecting those interludes like on “The Day The Niggas Took Over” putting the people who were actually in the uprising on the record.
Also, I’m a Prince fanatic and I love Morris Day and The Time as well. So, when you flipped “777-9311” you really caught my attention. What inspired you to use that?
Thurz: I did that one with Iman Omari. We went my studio downtown and he's playing tracks and then I stumbled across that one and it's just kind of got me stuck with a yo this is crazy. using that song. I just wanted to tell a different story. That still makes sense. It’s like meeting your old girl and you it her with, “If you need me, here’s my number, “777-9311.”
AllHipHop: You also worked with Anderson Paak. Tell me how was that?
Thurz: We officially got to connect while I was working with Dre. He was rapping on his project and had like 30 records. He wanted to release both at the same time. I wasn't working on his project like that because I was working with Dre and doing all the songs. And then, you know, like one of the records at the last minute before I started coming out to take one of the records. He just his thing on there. When we found out the week before the album was about come out that he was using, we were all excited, man. So, I guess that's our first real collaboration.
AllHipHop: With all your new music you’ve been dropping like “777-9311” and “Long Live”, another hot one, must all be a part of some project you have coming out.
Thurz: Yeah with all the new music I have, the project is tentatively titled Party In My Living Room. I been doing house parties around the country and it inspired the music for sure. Make sure everyone is on the lookout for it.