HOMETOWN: Seattle, Wash.
INFLUENCES: Michael Jackson, the Roots, Wu-Tang Clan
ALBUM: The Black Swan Theory, out 2014
WEBSITE: yonasmichael.com

Enamored of his grandmother’s extensive vinyl collection, Yonas Michael spent his early years practicing Michael Jackson’s signature dance moves. When he was a teenager, Michael’s family moved to the L.A. suburbs and he immersed himself in the world of hip-hop. After performing in talent shows around Southern California, he joined high school classmate Yannick Koffi (stage name Thurzday) to form the duo U-N-I in 2006. “We built a name, a fan base and a foundation,” he says. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but it helped me grow as an artist.” On his new album, The Black Swan Theory, Michael incorporates a range of musical styles including rock, electronic and funk to establish a new and entirely different identity. “The black swan theory basically represents a surprise to the observer,” he says. “It’s something that is rationalized in hindsight and eventually changes everything. I’m implementing elements that I grew up on into my own sound and cooking up something unprecedented in the process.”


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