Photo by Kristina Baky
Raised in San Francisco, Rich Iyala rips tunes that take a page from the Bay’s rich history of funk and soul. Years after breaking into the music industry as teenage emcee "sayknowledge", the rapper has changed his moniker, and vibratory level . Iyala’s new sound has evolved into blends of elemental hip hop, finding a sonic home somewhere between eclectic future beats and favela funk . His upcoming album Camp Mendocino is heavy on the soul horns, and taps into his hometown’s identity as the launching pad for funk groups like Sly & The Family Stone. Lyrics drenched in escapism and humankind’s complex, evolving relationship with technology. Through his work, Iyala looks to define a distinctly California sound of social resistance — in his own words, “future soul hyphy funk.”
An early mover in the Bay’s hyphy movement, the artist released his first album Vibe Called Quest as Sayknowledge at the age of 18. The LP won him mentions for his lyrical agility and irreverent video concepts in publications like Vibe Magazine. Say knowledge’s single “Ariel” was a campus radio favorite. He received early co signs from artists who are now longstanding collaborators, like producer Mars Today and Mikos Da Gawd of Soulection. More recently as Rich Iyala (a tweaked play on his birth name Rich Ayala, the “i” a symbol of the media-tech issues being grappled with in his work) the emcee has performed at venues across the Bay Area and joined fellow SF native Mr. Carmack on his Immersion tour. Black and Puerto Rican, Iyala is passionate about his Bay Area community and has been involved in numerous social justice campaigns. Recently he organized an all star benefit event in San Francisco for Hurricane Maria headlined by "Joe Kay " and is joining an October '17 march from San Francisco to Sacramento and back with the parents of SFPD murder victims.
After years of hiatus from major releases during which he started a weed delivery business, Mirage Medicinals (featured on VICELAND’s Weediquette), Rich Iyala is ready to surface from the SF struggle. “Damnwell,” a single off the soon to be released Camp Mendocino LP is a feel good beat ride that speaks to Iyala’s fixation on what defines "classic" .