Courtesy of Size 10 Productions
Rihanna may have already sung about rude boys, but a reality star, local producer and local musician are putting their own reggae spin on the concept.
Syrus Yarbrough, John Rish, and Isis Yasmeen teamed up to create the song “Rude Boy,” a new kind of reggae song with hip-hop and R&B influences.
Yarbrough, known for his reality TV appearances such as “The Real World: Boston” and “The Ruins” challenge show on MTV, has a love for reggae, which inspired him to break into the music industry and create music.
Yarbrough has hosted Reggae Nation TV at reggaenation.com and has interviewed some of the biggest artists on the reggae scene. He’s also performed with Bad Fish and House of Vibe.
“I hated (reggae) back when I was a hip-hop head, R&B kind of guy,” Yarbrough said. “Then one of my mentors was on the original keyboards for The Untouchables. That band paved the way for bands like No Doubt. They were one of the first black bands to be on TV.”
Rish, a local Columbus producer for Size 10 Productions, met Yarbrough eight or nine years ago at a club at Ohio State while Rish was DJing and Yarbrough was emceeing, said Rish, also known as Rishbone.
“Since then, we’ve actually become really good friends,” Rish said. “We’ve done about 20 or 30 tours together where I would DJ and he would emcee. The whole time he’s always expressed to me that he’s wanted some time to do some music.”
Yarbrough first met Yasmeen, a local Columbus artist, at an after party at Miani’s Bar & Grill, which he was hosting.
After that, “he heard my voice and he really wanted to do some music with me. He’s always had a deep passion for music. He’s a really cool guy. He came up with the idea for ‘Rude Boy,'” Yasmeen said.
So what is a “rude boy?”
“A rude boy is someone that does what they wanna do the way they wanna do it,” Yarbrough said. “Kind of like a rebel, but a rebel with fashion.”
If talking about a woman, Yarbrough says she is a sexy, powerful lady.
“She’s very edgy in the term of sexy,” he said. “She doesn’t have to be the prettiest girl in the bunch, but she has the most flavor.”
Yarbrough’s explained his reggae name, SY-LESSA.
“Silence the horn, because it’s a whole different ball game,” he said. “In reggae music your style is kind of like your gun. So if someone’s messin’ with me, I put my SY-LESSA on. You don’t see it coming. You don’t expect it.”
Yarbrough, Rish and Yasmeen all wrote the song together.
“Syrus is in love with reggae,” Rish said. “When he’s playin’ around, he’s always talking with a reggae accent. Every sentence ended with ‘rude boy.’ He came up with that idea then Isis wrote the hook in about five minutes. I helped write it and did the music myself, polished, and produced it.”
Rish said Yarbrough introduced the song to more than 60,000 people at MTV’s Spring Break in Texas and got a great response.
“This stands out because you don’t hear too many singers right now in the industry that can actually sing,” she said. “That’s the one thing about (Yasmeen). Her voice is amazing. You don’t have to put any kind of effects on it. Especially with Syrus being so recognizable you’re at least gonna give it a shot because you know it’s somebody local and because of Syrus.”
Yasmeen, a singer from Delaware, Ohio, originally started out as an opera singer.
“My dad was a huge opera singer,” Yasmeen said. “He listens to it every Sunday. When I was a little kid I would always imitate what an opera singer sounds like. By the age of 7 he helped me find a singing coach, Professor Nims from Ohio Wesleyan.”
Yasmeen performed with Opera Columbus, but switched over to R&B and hip-hop because she wanted to create music her friends could relate to.
“It’s not something they would listen to and jam out to,” Yasmeen said. “I want my friends to be like this is tight, you know, I wanted their support, I wanted to learn opera because you can sing anything once you know that.”
Yasmeen is working on a solo album with Size 10 Productions that will be released next winter. Her style is a fusion of opera and hip-hop, Yasmeen said. She will continue to make appearances and perform in Columbus, but it’s hard to get followers in Columbus.
“Everywhere I’ve been stands behind their local artists except Columbus. It’s very hard to get anyone to play anything or support anything local. Hopefully we can change that,” Rish said.
Rish is coming out with a compilation album next month featuring local Columbus artists, including the song “Rude Boy.”
“Hopefully everyone can come together,” Rish said.
“Rude Boy” is available on iTunes and amazon.com.