Words With Easy Yves Saint of the Niceguys:
Real Name: Yves Ozoude
Hometown: Queens, NY
Influences: Jay-Z, baroque music, dancehall, New York music, Texas music
Who He’s Down With: The Niceguys, OG Ron C, Bun B
You moved from New York to Houston in 2003 and eventually hooked up with DJ Candlestick, Free and Todd to form the Niceguys. What was the move like and why do you think you’ve been able to fit in in Houston?
My brother is from Houston and he came up to New York and he was like, “Yo, you’re going to die or end up in jail in New York.” This was on a Tuesday. I was living in Houston by Friday. That puts it into perspective for you. I was like, “I can get out.” It was my small window, my chance, so I jumped.
I didn’t have any plans. I think I fit in because I told myself a few times, “You’re not here because you want to be. You’re here because you have to be.” I think that helped me take it more seriously. Now that I’ve been here, I appreciate that Houston is its own place.
You’re the only rapper in the Niceguys. What is that dynamic like, having three guys working on the music while you’re the only one rapping?
We all come from different backgrounds, but we all have a common goal to make it happen. We met each other from mutual friends and are all talented.
A lot of people get together in groups strictly based on a skill or because someone put them together because this guy could sing, this one could rap and this one makes beats. We liked each other as people first, which we were fortunate to be able to do.
I met Candlestick in about 2005. He was DJing college parties and I was MCing them. I met Free next because Free’s older cousin was my man Dallas Mike. I would write stuff but never rap it and Dallas Mike was like, “Why don’t you record some of that? My cousin makes beats.” I went over there and they already knew Todd. Todd is a skeptic so I could tell he’s sizing me up and judging me. We all just started shooting the shit in late 2006.
Houston has become synonymous with the Screwed sound. Since the Niceguys don’t make that kind of music, how do you think that will impact you?
I think that the guys who are pioneers of the Screw shit -- to me, someone like Slim Thug -- they’re doing songs with us.
I’ve got this dude who’s a legend to me doing a verse with me. We’ve got Bun B out here doing songs. OG Ron C, I’m with him every day. That’s my mentor. You’ve got Michael “5000” Watts and we’re building a good rapport with him. It’s about people, about relationships.
We have flashes of that culture in our music, but I don’t think it’s going to affect us at all because we’re part of the South. People say, “It’s not Southern music,” but fuck it, we’re getting it in with the OGs on a regular basis.
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