Yakopo is an international display artist, and he’s here to declare his place in the music industry once and for all. Once you meet him, the energy is unmistakable, and he brings nothing but good vibes. Having grown up all over the world, Iakopo brings a melting pot of influences into his music, from reggae to hip-hop to R&B and everything in between.
When describing himself, Iakopo says, “I’m tropical, I’m on the vibes. Self-taught, I am a self-created culture. I’m very multicultural, so being born in America, growing up in Samoa, and then living a good portion of my life in Hawaii, Japan, and Jamaica, I’m a mix of a few cultures.
Iakopo has come a long way, fondly remembering performing in nightclubs as a teenager and going to school the next morning. His long list of hit records includes “Top of the Hill” with 2 Chainz, “Closer To You” with Sean Paul and r2bees, “Touch Down” with Shaggy, “Sparrows” and most recently “Not a Star”.
Fans can also look forward to Iakopo’s upcoming show in Los Angeles on April 24 and May 3.
AllHipHop: What is your origin?
Yakopo: I am very fiery. I live my life thanks to this spirit, this energy. I’ve always been like this, but the evolution of this is super dope because I’ve come to a consciousness where now you see what we’re creating is life. Music and life are the same to me. I treat songs the same way I treat real life: vibes. I go into vibration, then from there I do the song.
AllHipHop: When did you fall in love with music?
Yakopo: My mom, I come from a family of musicians, so I’ve always been into music since I was little. Even as a baby, I watched my mother play the piano. As soon as I could sit there, I was already playing. When I was 5 or 6 years old, they put me in class. I come from a strict musical background. I’ve always loved music, but it was around the time I became a teenager that I became a rockstar. In my own mind, in my own world. When I became a teenager, I was like “f### what are you talking about, I’m on my own wave.”
Around the age of 13 is when I started to dive into it, I started playing clubs in Samoa. I moved from California to Samoa when I was 13. When I entered high school, I completely changed countries, languages, cultures. I completely changed my environment. I was going to high school in Samoa and one of my classmates uncles was the leader in charge of that band and he took me down to audition. From that moment I started playing in nightclubs. This is unheard of. Even in the United States, you don’t go to a nightclub and see an underage child perform there. I was playing 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, playing nightclubs as a kid, then going to school in the morning.
AllHipHop: You linked with 2 Chainz on “Top of the Hill”. How was this moment?
Yakopo: I have 2 songs with 2 Chainz, one with Lil Wayne. Working with 2 Chainz is super dope. It’s crazy, I became more of a fan after working with him. Because I knew a few of his songs, but it was like “ok cool”. After working with him, I really became more of a fan. He’s super doped. Original.
AllHipHop: What was it like shooting the video with your wife?
Yakopo: The song is a super dope song. This is my wife, her name is Sakura Da Patra. She is a famous choreographer, event planner and dancer from Tokyo, Japan. We always have a great time together, we actually shot the video in Tokyo, Japan. She made the video creatively, that’s really what made it pop.
AllHipHop: I saw it in the video!
Yakopo: She is! She was 3 months pregnant. She was a stylist, so she’s a stylist, choreographer, and creative director for this video.
AllHipHop: How was born the song with Lil Wayne?
Yakopo: Very similar to the first, my former manager. We were already on a wave with 2 Chainz. Honestly, most of the songs I do get me stoned. I go to the studio and start making them, then send them out. The first song with 2 Chainz, he sent me the verse before I even did the song, then I did the whole “if I get a bag, let’s go”. The other was the opposite: I recorded it and sent it. They said “oh, we really like that. Alright, let’s do a verse.
I did a song with Sean Paul, he FaceTimed me with my brother Future Fambo the last time I was here in LA. He said “hey, we’re recording a song in Kingston, Jamaica, if you have some time.”
AllHipHop: What inspired “Sparrows”?
Yakopo: Literally, I just become authentic and real. I’m really f###### high and just freestyle, when I really like a better stuff comes that’s how I do a lot of my music. Usually I do the melody first, but even the last time it was all of a sudden. I then do the melody lines first like “oh I love this cadence” and then it just came out. Because I evolved. My music and my life is all this smooth, flowing vibration.
AllHipHop: How did you get your name?
Yakopo: Iakopo: So I was born in America as Jacob, my birth name. I love this name, it’s a beautiful name. I was adopted as a child so when I moved to Samoa they said Jacob was Iakopo. They say Jacob, but in Samoan. There is no ‘j’ or ‘c’.
AllHipHop: How did you build your audience on social media?
Yakopo: I just rubbed myself, honestly. There is no limit to how much we can really help with this. I am constantly posting content. My formula contains as much content as possible, and it’s never enough. There are only 24 hours in the day, and now we have TikTok. Now I have to be on TikTok. I have 20 TikToks, but I’m definitely not TikToking every day. We release a single every month, we’ve been doing it for about a year or two now
AllHipHop: What kind of content have you posted?
Yakopo: I systematically release my music. When I see that a certain song really takes up more space or I just have more money, because I don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money on marketing for each single. I released a song and when I see it start to take off, more people share it – like it’s a dance song. I see people are really vibing, so I’m going to do a dance challenge. I will have 100 girls or dancers all dancing to my song. Every day I post and post. I’ll spend 2 months posting hundreds of dances, I’m sure that helps build it.
AllHipHop: How is the independent grind?
Yakopo: I love it. I love it. It’s something you have to learn to love. It’s always nice to have everyone doing everything for you with the major label – to be honest with you, that’s also a necessity. This is reverse engineered from what they did, but reverse engineered as an independent. I love it because I could literally do whatever I want. I could literally walk into a big company and say “hey, here I am. Let’s make a deal. Boom: $100,000, $500,000. I mean Kanye West probably has 30 to 40 million dollar contracts, but at least I’m about to walk into a place and get 1 million or half a million dollars, or 100 grand . All by myself, and I don’t have to pay anyone for it. I don’t need to ask anyone, so I really like it.
Although as a freelance artist there are times when I’m like “oh s###, I totally blew the budget of everything and we still have to go”. Sometimes this s### happens, but that’s great because literally tomorrow I could turn the corner and say “yes, I have that offer for you”. And there’s no one controlling me, it’s so much better. For me, that’s the only conversation now.
AllHipHop: Talk about touring Japan and the Jamaican Islands.
Yakopo: Living and filming in Japan is great, I love Japan, I love the people. Japan is great, the people are amazing.
One of the things I really liked about Japan was the dance culture. Japan has a real dance culture. They really do, they really do f###### and it’s just not the same. I really loved it, and I had so much fun with everyone dancing, it goes really well with the music.
The thing is, music and dancing go hand in hand. What is music without dance? I really liked that they were really into the dance stuff there, I had fun with that. I loved it, it makes me smile. Good food, so many dancers and clubs. Once on tour, we did one of the tours in Kobe Osaka, Tokyo. My wife organized it, she brought 100 dancers to the show. Every song we had another team of 5, 10, 15. Every night every show was with a different team and they choreographed their own stuff for my show. It was really dynamic, fun, unique, special, meaningful.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from “Not A Star”?
Yakopo: He just fell, look at him. It’s dope like f###. The inspiration behind the song, I wanted to connect with people. It’s this interesting dichotomy because I’m a star, but at the same time the message is that I’m not a star, I’m like you because we all have that experience in life. We all go through struggles. Whether you’re a star or not, it can go both ways. Even if you have 10 million dollars in the bank, a million or nothing, we are all going through the same things. Stress, worries, fears, insecurities, ups, downs. The message of the song for everyone: we all go through similar s###. We all go through ups and downs. We have ups, we have downs. “I’m just chilling with my brother getting out of control” that kind of vibe.
AllHipHop: Is there anything else we should be looking for, something else you’re passionate about?
Yakopo: We are starting the tour soon. On April 24, I play at Club Avalon in Hollywood. On May 3, I’m playing in Los Angeles at Poom Poom Tuesdays with my dancers Sakura Da Patra & JUNNA, it’s a very famous dancehall event in the southern hemisphere of America. That would be the most important then just focusing on the song. Of course, go to Spotify. We shoot more. We have more shows coming up in America, we’re excited to be here. I have a song with Snoop Dogg in the works. We don’t have a release date but the song is almost done. We’re planning to shoot a video in May, and it’s exciting. The song is really great, it’s a reggaeton atmosphere. Finally, Iakopo released his new single “Don’t Think” on April 22 with Californian pop group Zupa Nova.