In 2016, Yared Kiflai, a 23-year-old artist from Oakland, surprised us with his phenomenal single, “CGH.” Today, he’s back with another hit, one that he wants to share with the world before he drops his debut EP, Twentysomethings, in the next few months.
“Sign of the Times” is a rap-heavy, jungle beat-inspired track that Kiflai says was sitting “in the vault for years.” (If the production sounds familiar, it’s because producer Spencer Stevens included a sample from Erykah Badu’s “Other Side of the Game.”)
Kiflai was inspired by early 2000’s Jay Z and Timbaland recordings, and says he spewed the stream of consciousness rap while riding around with Stevens in his new Jeep Cherokee.
“It was essentially freestyled over the course of a slow-burning blunt as we rode around Lake Merritt, probably imagining ourselves on the set of a Roc-A-Fella video,” he says.
For a good two-minutes, Kiflai spits straight fire without taking a breather, in an effort to mimic the pace and enormity of the thoughts and concerns that he was dealing with during the song’s recording. At that point in his life, Kiflai had just dropped out of school and was toying with moving to New York City to pursue music.
“The cynical, yet aspirational subject matter is largely inspired by the major fork I had reached in my life,” he says.
Now that Kiflai has moved beyond this phase of his life, he felt the track would be incongruent with the rest of his upcoming EP, hence why he’s releasing it now. Better late than never, right?