In this exclusive interview, YelloPain talks about his viral hit song and how his stance on voting has changed along with his outlook on politics and the community.
With Election Day only one day away, rapper YelloPain discusses why your vote not only counts, but amounts to change.
His words and music are necessary reminders to join the headcount, hold your local politicians accountable, and VOTE.
YelloPain grew up in Dayton, Ohio. Discouraged by the living conditions and lack of resources available to get ahead, he gave up on the government. But he has realized that in order to fix the system you have to understand the system, so he is spreading knowledge about how government works and how to make your vote count. Now, he's encouraging everyone to hit the polls in the upcoming election.
His song "My Vote Don't Count" gained millions of views across multiple social media platforms, and the reaction he has received from fans and his peers back home has given him hope that change will come to the communities that need it the most.
YelloPain does not just rap about social empowerment and voting; his actions match his words. He has personally been registering new voters within his community, and his music is bringing his message to the masses. For anyone who still thinks their vote doesn't count, check out YelloPain's music video and let him break it down for you.
YelloPain - My Vote Dont Count 🤷 www.youtube.com
KIM GLUTZ: How long have you been rapping professionally?
YELLOPAIN: I have been rapping since I was seven years old. I always thought I was doing it professionally, but I guess I didn't really start living off of it until about 2018.
How did you learn so much about the voting process?
Besides the general education I received in 6th and 7th grade, I owe my knowledge about voting to my cousin, Desiree Tims, who's running for Congress in the 10th District of Ohio. She really sat me down and did the exact same visual you see in my 2x viral single, "My Vote Don't Count." She explained the importance of voting on all levels, not just the presidential election. It guided me to reach out to our local government about the issues my community faces daily.
“We all want access to the American dream. And that is the best language that I can speak: opportunity. So people d… https://t.co/CKbOyJf81p— Desiree Tims for Congress (@Desiree Tims for Congress)1594325010.0
Past generations fought for the right to vote, yet the younger generations forgot their struggle while never knowing what it was like to not have that freedom, a freedom that they take for granted and do not take full advantage of. You said you used to be like that, but then you "woke up" to the fact that not voting contributes to the problem and not to the solution. Do you think that the rest of America will "wake up" in time for Election Day this being such a critical election year?
I can't speak for America, but I believe as we continuously supply our younger generations with accurate knowledge of history along with information on our most pressing issues to date, we will effectively come together to vote people in office that represent us. Now that I'm enlightened, I hope that my music inspires the world to wake up too.
What kind of response have you received about the song from fans and on social media, and have people said whether or not they have changed their stance on voting?
Man!! It's been amazing getting messages and comments, not just from millennials, but from generations before me, saying that I'm bridging the gap on what we need to hear, especially with this being a critical election. I've gotten so many messages from people in my age group thanking me for reminding them the importance of voting locally, and from older people reaching out to me to tell me that they've shared my music to inform the youth, and even telling me that I reminded them why they should vote! I've been able to impact so many people's perspectives with my music and I'm truly honored.
The core message in your song is that voting is important not only because of the president, but because of Congress, as they are the ones who write the bills and therefore are the decision-makers who we all should be voting for. How much difference do you think we could make in our communities if we all went to the elections and voted for members of Congress?
There's a part in my song where I say, "Imagine life on the other side, roads better, schools better, everybody get their license back, grocery store food better, custody of your kids back, homeless people get new shelters." Congress controls those issues. If we elect Congress members that are ethical, utilizing their power and budgets effectively to reform our communities, we'd see enormous change.
Minimum wage in most places is not enough for the community to develop itself, let alone make necessary changes. If we elected Congressional officials that care more about roads, wages, human rights, and administering fair laws, we cut the agenda-setting time and execute on the goals.
On the back of the ballot this Election Day, there is a proposal regarding term lengths and whether they should be two or four years. Shorter terms allow voters to replace underperforming politicians with someone new while keeping politicians on their toes in order to be reelected. As a voter, what are your thoughts about term length?
Is it really about the length if we elect officials that stand by America's "Golden Rule?" An official can be elected for two years and do more for our communities than an official in office forelected four years. Collectively, we have to start looking at the time we are allowing the changes to continue to go unmet. Politicians should be actively making the community better, seeing that they took a pledge to do so.
When @YelloPain learned about down-ballot voting, he was shocked by what he hadn't been taught earlier about voting… https://t.co/4O73R5yql6— Aspen Ideas Festival (@Aspen Ideas Festival)1603321560.0
When they are up for reelection, voters should be knowledgeable on which bills they passed and organizational changes they've made to determine who to vote in favor of.
Due to the virus, a much higher percentage of voters this year will be voting by absentee ballot than usual. Having the ballot in hand at home allows the voter to study the ballot, research the candidates, and make a more informed choice, especially for those who do not follow politics closely. Do you think absentee ballots are an advantage this election year?
They are if every person of age has received their absentee ballot to their address, with return postage. If not, I encourage you to follow me to the polls! Early voting is still open in some states; don't wait until the last minute to vote. If you haven't received your ballot, go to www.Vote.org to get any additional information you need to pick up or drop off your ballot.
You say the communities who vote more have more, and your hometown of Dayton feels as though it has fallen through the cracks. What kind of reaction have you gotten from your peers back in Dayton about the song and their probability of voting?
Dayton is among many cities looking for positive change when it comes to elected Congressmembers. Thankfully enough, my cousin Desiree has initiatives promoting growth and development. I've inspired many of my peers from Dayton to vote. Days before Ohio's last day to register, I personally went to my community signing up people to vote. With me featured on some of my peers' favorite media platforms, I've gained their attention in hopes that my music helps increase the likelihood of them voting.
You talk about community pride. What are your hopes and dreams for Dayton if the community came out and voted for local officials?
I love my city with all my heart. However, my hope is not only for my hometown, but for the world. [I hope everyone] experiences a life that allows them access to the essentials of living, led by local and national officials that understand community and what it means, so that we have the same opportunities to advance and grow.
A lyric in your song says, "If we're gonna fix the U.S. we've got to start with these two letters: me and you." With everything happening in the U.S. this year—from the Black Lives Matter movement and protests to companies changing their packaging to avoid reflecting an outdated representation of Black culture—these are examples of individual people making a difference in society by standing up to the status quo and demanding change. What else can we do, besides voting, to make a difference in our communities?
Be better with uplifting and supporting each other. End Deprivation. Protect and educate our youth; they are the future!
YelloPain: My Vote Don't Count
You said that when Obama won the presidential election, that the Black community felt they finally had representation in Washington. Yet as you say in the song "Everybody got less food stamps," and the Black community felt there was no change for the better, and so they gave up hope for any change. Do you blame current living conditions on those who didn't vote, or on the politicians who promise one thing and deliver another?
I don't blame the living conditions on the politicians. I blame the educational system, and partially the media. There should be way more pressure on civic education as well as media attention on the smaller levels of government. I also believe politics are very complex, as far as the language goes. I think a lot of things can be simplified for everyday people to better understand.
It's pretty cool that Chelsea Clinton tweeted about your video and that First Families have seen it. Do you think that Obama has seen this video, or heard the song, and what do you think he'd think about it?
It would be amazing if I was on Michelle or Barack Obama's playlist! I think he would be proud of my efforts to get nonvoters to the polls! For Chelsea Clinton to mention my video on her platform really means a lot coming from a Presidential family. The importance of voting is so significant this election.
This is terrific. Thank you @YelloPain for reminding us why every election matters and thank you @ArlanWasHere for… https://t.co/n8ErJLhIBx— Chelsea Clinton (@Chelsea Clinton)1580140137.0
You have said that this was the most important song you have ever made. Do you think you will continue to write songs with social change in mind?
I will continue to make conscious creative music that comes from my soul.
So, are you going to vote?