Sunny-headed rapper Tyheir Kindred, known as Yellopain, grew up in a house with up to 16 other people living in it.
His family fostered a safe space for anyone. But in the small city of Dayton, Ohio, potholes spotted the streets, and he had limited opportunities.
Kindred said he didn’t realize the power of voting until late last year. His road to discovery was dipped and broken, like the ones in his home city, but once he realized he had a choice in politics, he felt empowered to write a song. His product is “My Vote Will Count,” released July 10.
The song is an update to Kindred’s “My Vote Don’t Count,” with the addition of Sevyn Streeter’s vocals. The “My Vote Will Count” video premiered Sept. 15 and showcased Kindred encouraging people to vote in a barber shop, in a gym locker room and on a street corner.
As the election approaches, Kindred emphasizes the song’s importance now.
Late last year, Kindred’s cousin, Desiree Tims, who is running for Ohio’s 10th Congressional District, suggested he write a song about voting. He told her he didn’t want to hear it.
“I voted for President Obama back in 2012, and you know, I felt like nothing happened,” he said. “I felt like our time was wasted.”
Kindred said she explained how his everyday life is affected by laws. He said once he realized the importance of voting, he was upset with himself for not knowing before.
“I have to make sure everybody has the same wake up moment that I had,” he said.
In the song, Kindred raps about how politicians never made his life better. He attributes the lack of change to a low voter turnout for elections outside the presidential.
“So you know how back in '08 when we all voted for Obama,” he raps in the song. “We was all supposed to go back in 2010 and voted for the Congress. Cause they the ones that make child support laws.”
Isabella Pellon, a 23-year-old UF alumna, said she listened to the song intently the first time. She sat on her bed and read the lyrics, analyzing them as his bars pounded in her ears.
“This is like a call to action that you need to vote,” she said. “This was just an extra push, I think, to really pay attention.”
Normally, Pellon listens to K-pop and dodges rap because she doesn’t relate to the lyrics. But Pellon said Yellopain’s music is educational and meaningful, and she likened it to “Hamilton.”
“For him to choose that he wants to dedicate this message in his music and his art form, I think is very unique,” she said.
Kindred also raps about heavy subjects like drug abuse, parent absence and suicide. His name Yellowpain poses a paradox, and he said it signifies a happy representation of his pain. His neon yellow hair carries the same message.
In each of his songs, a theme of resilience prevails. He attributes his attitude to his mom, who he said has endured loss.
“I grew up around that type of strength, that continual strength,” he said. “I want to give other people that same type of hope that I have witnessed and that I have inside of me.”
Growing up with resources spread thin and with minimal help from government programs, Kindred said he felt frustrated.
“Where I come from, it can be depressing… You could feel like there's no way out,” he said. “So I feel like I have to be a voice for people who don't have a voice.”
Kindred said the song is for anyone who feels like the system is broken and wants to see change. And to those who feel like their vote doesn’t matter, he said just a few votes can impact an election.
“There's people that show up to every election,” Kindred said. “They vote in their favor and not in your favor. So why would you let those people make the decision for your life when you can show up the same way that they do?”
Along with “My Vote Don’t Count,” “My Vote Will Count” is available to stream now on all major platforms.
In honor of Yellopain’s song, Danielle Gray, a marketing rep for the record label AWAL, and her friend painted “My Vote Will Count” on 34th street with a sunny yellow background, the same shade as his hair. When Kindred saw the mural, he said he almost cried.
Katie Delk is a sophomore with a journalism major and an anthropology minor. For the Avenue, she writes about music, culture and the environment. When she is not writing, she is outside with the trees, reading a fantasy book or listening to Beach House.