THE CREATION OF ‘YOHO’
With “senioritis” setting in hard and a consulting gig at Deloitte already in hand, Patterson experimented. He began listening to beats on YouTube and writing poems and songs again. Then he found The Grill Recording Studios in nearby Emeryville. “All these rappers from the Bay Area would be there,” Patterson recalls. “And I was like, OK this is definitely the spot to be.”
The Grill Studio’s client list is impressive. It includes rap legends like Dr. Dre, Tupac, Warren G, and Snoop Dogg, as well as Bay Area legends like E-40 and B-Legit. Patterson also started using the infamous studios to record. Around the same time, Patterson was talking to a friend in a Haas negotiations course about his recently renewed hip-hop artist spirit. The classmate suggested Patterson connect with fellow Haas MBA student, Bomi Kim, who is a South Korean rapper, to write an anthem to Haas. Soon after, Patterson and Kim were in The Grill Studios recording “YOHO (You Only Haas Once),” which led to a music video with a Haas Dean Rich Lyons cameo and an astounding cult following.
“We didn’t really think anything of it, but it just picked up so much steam internally (inside Haas),” Patterson laughs.
They took the steam and ran with it. Soon they were not only performing on the Berkeley-Haas campus, but at nearby rival, Stanford. They were making shirts and selling merchandise.
“Literally, we were using the business school white boards to draw up our marketing plan,” Patterson says. “It became more exciting than the classes we were actually taking because we were putting it all into practice.”
On graduation day, there were Snapchat filters created with the YOHO phrase. “People had the YOHO bear that we created on their graduation hat with glitter and stuff,” Patterson says, still sounding in disbelief. “They designed it themselves, put it on their hats, and graduated with it. You could see the pride.”
GRADUATE, MARRY, LAUNCH RAP CAREER
All the buzz was another turning point for Patterson. Indeed, he thought he could be a rapper. And he had three months from graduating from Haas during the spring of 2016 to when he was starting at Deloitte’s San Francisco office. A week after graduating, Patterson got married and went on his honeymoon. When he returned, he began writing and networking with the local Bay Area music scene. The networking led Patterson to prolific local producer, Sean Miguel Thompson (also known as Sean-T).
By the time Patterson started at Deloitte, he already had his routine down. Instead of figuring out how to be a rapper and a consultant, Patterson already knew what he needed to do and the time it would take to continue writing, producing, and performing as a rapper. “All of that time helped propel the plane off the ground and by the time I was at Deloitte, I was already flying,” he says. It also helped that his position at Deloitte was to work with tech and media entertainment clients mainly in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
If he had to catch a plane, train, or an Uber, Patterson says he was writing. “If I fly from SF to LA, I can write a song in the air,” he says of his routine flights from San Francisco to Los Angeles.” If I fly in and out of LA, that’s two songs right there. I also probably just didn’t sleep.”
‘FOR ME, THIS IS MY SOCIAL IMPACT’
But it’s not just rap anymore for Patterson.
“For me, this is my social impact,” Patterson says with conviction in his voice. “This is how I’m able to create a positive influence and a positive image of a rapper.”
Just a few weeks ago, Patterson spent time at a high school in Davis, California, where he rapped one of his songs and then read them to the students as a conversation starter about social issues like racism.
“We all love Kanye West’s College Dropout, but how many people are rapping about their graduate degrees? How many people are encouraging you to save and invest as opposed to spending? And there’s nothing wrong with spending, but how many people are thinking about those types of things,” Patterson says. “I’m not condemning other rappers. I’d rather just be the change that I want to see and do it in a dope way.”
And for Patterson, all that goes back to his roots and being a product of an immigrant family of artists.
“I’m from the inner-city ghetto,” Patterson says. “I remember being homeless and not having anything in our names. To be in the situation that I’m in right now, it’s unfathomable, number one. But, number two, I just know the responsibility I have to give back. Especially, to similar communities that lack that pipeline of resources. So, to be that pipeline for these communities is something I’m galvanized to do. It’s part of my responsibility. When I’m rapping, I keep that in mind.”