We open in a smoky room; the beat is groovy and mellow. “When the sun don’t shine, I don’t pay no mind,” croons Adil Omar, featuring in Amy Yanick’s (aka Thekeenone) recently released video, “Shine”.
Yanick, 32, cuts in with her sharp, poignant phrases: “I’m going to find my life in the midst of it all, no tricks up my sleeve, I believe that’s all.” The lyrics come across as fresh and upbeat, and at the same time, wax poetic; they are deep. There aren’t any ‘generic’ textures to Yanick’s style — nothing like the stuff that’s been to no end these days.
Directed by Jon Buch and produced by Fredwreck — Fredwreck also did Omar’s “Off the Handle” video featuring Xzibit — “Shine” was entirely shot within the urban, widespread styling of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The crew used some GoPro Hero Cameras and recorded everything that happened without painstaking scripting or premeditated cinematography. The video follows Yanick on a bike as she traverses past a sunlit landscape of the streets and the people around. “I wanted it to be very spontaneous and give people some insight into how one rapper from California spends a sunny beach weekend,” says Yanick.
Omar describes Yanick’s style as “laidback and effortless, yet at the same time raw and lyrical”. She has a penchant for dealing with issues that she faces in life — death, depression, anxiety, struggle, happiness, faith, hope “and ways to overcome all of that”.
Yanick is an old hand at the game, with plenty of experience to write home about. She’s been at it since 1999, which is when she started rapping. “It took a lot of time to learn before I even let anyone know,” says Yanick who started taking her music seriously when she moved to Philadelphia and began working on getting her name out there. She initially formed a group called Subliminal Orphans, which had a large music following and later, broke up amicably. She’s been ‘Thekeenone’ ever since.
Yanick’s been in touch with Omar since 2008. They first met when her counterpart came down to work with B-Real, who Yanick has also worked with; everyone was “impressed with his skills as an artist as well as his grind”. Omar contributed to “Shine” when he came back to Los Angeles to work with Xzibit.
Omar is actually singing, which is something new for Islamabad’s resident rapper. “The reason I didn’t do a verse on this and just left the hook for myself was because it seemed like a really personal track to her and I wouldn’t want to add to it unnecessarily and take away from that,” he says.
“I was totally comfortable with switching over from my usual style because that’s what I do, I experiment and push my boundaries whenever I can,” he adds, explaining his versatility as an artist.
“Shine” sees a union of cultures and contrary backgrounds of two minds. Yanick feels Omar has provided her with a great education apropos of Pakistan, a country surrounded by far too much political and media hype with not enough emphasis on art and culture. “It shows people that even though we might be on the other side of the world, we share a common love for music and can work together to make some amazing art,” concludes Yanick.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.