Kevon Heath (YANKEY BOY)
Graduates Ent. took the time to catch up with the nominated Best New Male Soca Artist of the year 2011, Yankey Boy; and we were absolutely blown out of our seats with his story! Born and raised in East Trinidad, Yankey Boy got his nickname in the streets of Pinto, Arima after spending 2 years of his childhood living in NYC and returning with a “New York swagga”. But, don’t be fooled by his nickname OR New Yorker vibe, Kevon Heath is far from a Yankee. In the nature of a true Trini, he is an avid player of Steel Pan, the National Instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.
Kevon, a former Arima secondary pupil, was no rookie in the Pan business; copping 3 Pan Championships and upholding a major role in the Defense Force Pan Team. With his raw talent, it was no surprise when he received a scholarship to the University of the West Indies to read and write music. Once at UWI, Kevon really came into his natural ability to dissect music with his ears and play most instruments that he came across. His life then took a turn while playing around in the studio.
Yankey Boy’s first major hit, “Head Nice”, was a joke gone well! Thanks to his personal friend Lyrikal-- who gifted him the riddim, and his love for liquor, a playful joke became a hit! As I sat with Yankey Boy, he described the first time he heard his song on the radio was when he was pulled into a gas station. While waiting for gas, he witnessed a driver pull up blasting his song and singing along! Later that day, Yankey went into a bar and brought everyone in that bar a drink in celebration. Proving that his success was far from good luck, he had another major hit on his hands with “Bartender”! A tune that flooded the radio stations and DJ crates notably in NYC, Miami and Trinidad. Along with a radio presence, Yankey Boy was also working on his unforgettable stage performances.
Let’s take a minute to focus on Kevon Heath the man rather than Yankey Boy the musician. Kevon will be the first to admit that he wasn't initially a fan of soca music. But, that changed after being surrounded by the likes of Makamillion, Lyrikal and even Patch over the years. Kevon explained to us the ongoing mathematics that has worked for him continuously; “10% Talent, 40% who you know (Networking), 50% Marketing”. Most people can relate seeing that some of the most talented individuals are not being recognized because they don’t get the opportunity to network and market themselves as a brand. But Kevon’s rising success did not come without any obstacles. With success comes media attention, and with that, the rumors began.
Believe it or not, every line in his song “Rumors” is very much true. Yankee Boy did find his girlfriend in bed with another man; he did in fact get a flat tire on the notorious Beetham Highway in Trinidad and of course he consumes puncheon on a weekly basis. Kevon explained the “horn” situation as him walking into the bedroom and seeing a random man buckling his belt while his girlfriend was basically speechless. He was even bold enough to refer to Kevon as “Yankey Boy” and give him a high five on the way out. Kevon lost that night, but he woke up in the morning victorious. Heading to the studio with the experience fresh on his mind, Kevon initially directed the entire sound around his ex, and then felt that he shouldn't give her free publicity. That very next day Kevon recorded his massive hit “Rumors”.
Yankey Boy, along with his fans, sees “Rumors” as his number one breakout hit! And who can disagree? “Rumors” reaches all age groups, and was featured on the famous Machel Monday’s, and even helped him book a huge show in St. Maarten with the popular soca star, David Rudder! Speaking of Machel Monday’s, let’s discuss Kevon’s first encounter with the living Legend of Soca music Machel Montano. Yankey stated that people kept saying that Machel wanted to meet him but he never took them seriously. When he finally did met Machel, he was caught by surprise with the amount of things he knew about his music. “He knows everything!” Kevon even went on to say that Machel described the introduction of new soca artists in this era as being more embraced by the public compared to when Machel first started out and that he has to work hard to win over a lot of people even up to this day.
Recently, Yankey Boy has given us three new songs, “Keep Talking”, “Red Eye” and “Don’t Spoil de Party” for this Carnival Season. “Red Eye”, a song that goes hand in hand with the popular Red Eye event was released just before Miami Carnival. Returning from Miami, he then headed straight to the studio to record “Don’t Spoil De Party”, which came from his Miami Carnival experience. “Don’t Spoil De Party” has already made airways in Trinidad on the radio for the 2014 carnival season. With the season still in the early stages, there is no doubt that we will get more hit tunes from Yankey Boy!
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